It’s a conference room like any other, the type of place where you might expect to hear life insurance rates and compare Excel spreadsheets. But on a recent weekday afternoon, it’s quiet, save for the soft hum of an HVAC unit.
That is, until Christopher Brooks and Patrick White begin jamming.
Brooks, a violinist, and White, on fretless bass, have reimagined the space on Embassy Drive as more than just a corporate meeting space. On Wednesday, the pair will perform music, both improvised and rehearsed, interspersed with poetry readings. Refreshments will be served starting at 7 p.m. The music starts at 7:30.
The pair say the night is inspired by the spirit of the beatniks of the ’50s, who found performance spaces in all sorts of unusual spaces. So why not a conference room?
For Wednesday night, Brooks and White are reimagining the space as Cafe Oy Vey. The space is long and narrow, with a low ceiling. It’s draped in hues of eggplant, emerald and gold, and unusual mirrored panels line the space as part of the decor.
“The green wallpaper doesn’t affect the acoustics,” says Brooks, who is also a professional acoustician.
“I don’t mind the green wallpaper much,” quips White. (He’s blind.)
Jokes aside, the sound of the space is quite impressive given its intended use. You can hear the words and music clearly no matter where you’re situated in the room.
Brooks discovered the space during a meeting with his financial adviser, Richard Braverman, in one of the offices other buildings. After some expensive events where he barely broke even, Brooks was complaining to Braverman about the lack of affordable concert venues available to rent.
So Braverman led him down the stairs.
Brooks then brought White, with whom he’s collaborated on several events this year, and played for him so he could experience the acoustics.
“There’s a little bit of a delay, but not much, and the bass seems to radiate very nicely in here,” White says.
The pair collaborated on a setlist of ’50s jazz pieces intertwined with poems by Dylan Thomas and e.e. cummings.
“I’m still fascinated by the idea of written poetry and improvised music,” Brooks says. “It seems to work. You say a poem, and it kind of gives you a place to start.”
In the middle of the show, White will play a solo soundscapes piece with a robust pedalboard that fans of King Crimson’s Robert Fripp will enjoy. (Fripp himself was White’s mentor.)
“Expect the unexpected,” White says. “We don’t know fully what’s going to happen either, and we invite whoever shows up to engage in this adventure with us.”