The Evening Muse: Celebrating fifteen years of the perfect neighborhood sound

By Alex Cason

June 5, 2016

There is definitely a speakeasy feel to The Evening Muse upon entering the doors for the first time. It’s like being invited to an intimate studio that one of your favorite acts has rented out for the evening, and they’re taking over the venue to bring the audience along for the ride. All preconceived notions of a “small” music venue might as well be thrown out the window here, and a different level of music appreciation and sound engineering takes hold. It embraces the audience and the acts alike, with complete focus on the sound and intimacy, creating a memorable and personal musical experience that rarely goes unnoticed.

“I think a lot of the successful folks still enjoy coming and meeting people face-to-face and seeing their fans. That’s what we try to provide for some of them,” says Joe Kuhlmann, owner and the head of sound at The Evening Muse.

15 years and 11,000 live performances later, The Evening Muse moves forward into the next 15 years proudly and unabashedly. The perfect sound vessel that Joe Kuhlmann has built in the heart of NoDa, on the corner of 36th and North Davidson Street has been a mainstay in the otherwise ever-changing arts district just north of Uptown Charlotte in “NoDa.”

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Joe Kuhlmann of The Evening Muse. Photo by Alex Cason

The template for The Evening Muse is simple: provide a platform for artists to hone their skills and showcase their talents in a room engineered to focus on their musical strengths, while catering to a highly respectful, attentive, and appreciative audience. The performances are always strong, whether playing to an audience of 20 or 120, whether it’s a big-name band or a relatively unknown, whether it’s a local act or a traveling show. It’s all about respecting the sound.

“There wasn’t a place for singer-songwriters. There wasn’t a place for up-and-coming acts to develop. Most of the venues were over 200-capacity, and so there really weren’t enough spaces that allowed acts to grow and incubate,” says Kuhlmann.

Recently, more comedy acts have been added to their calendar, and the Open Mic Night on Mondays is more popular than ever. As for the future of the venue, Kuhlmann recognizes the need to embrace the progressing landscape of the neighborhood, and understands that adaptation is part of survival.

“As far as any big, major plans— yeah, we’ve got some stuff we’re working on, but we’re going to keep that close to the chest for a little while,” says Kuhlmann.

The one constant that never seems to change is the amazingly crisp, pure sound that all bands are wanting to share with their fans, and The Evening Muse is the optimal venue to provide it in a great neighborhood with a comfortable setting.

Watch our full interview with Joe Kuhlmann:

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