By Kris McDowell
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Whether choosing the life of a brewer or the life of a musician, it’s a choice that means committing to a challenging career that often requires long hours. Those who succeed are the ones who combine skill and commitment to crafting a product that they not only can be proud of, but their fans can consume.
John Harris, an icon in Oregon craft brewing, has managed to balance his primary career as a brewer with a love of music by sitting in as a guest for bands with both a local and national reach. As a kid, John said he was "always banging on stuff," which led to banging on things in a more musical manner — playing the drums in junior high band. Between band and private lessons, he learned to read music and keep rhythm, skills that he would draw upon years later. Attending a concert in 1985 he saw Billy Hults, a washboard player who, according to his posthumous induction into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame, "played with about everyone in Portland in the ‘70s and ‘80s." John thought what he was doing with the washboard looked fun and he proceeded to pick one up for himself at a thrift store.
When asked how he learned to play it, John replied "You just kind of do it." No doubt his background in playing the drums helped him figure it out, and for a couple of years he was officially part of a band called the Hardly Boys. Being a musician generally isn't a high-paying gig and since washboard players don't hold the cache that a lead guitarist or vocalist does, there’s a greater likelihood that they won't be paid often, so when he was kicked out of the band it wasn’t the blow it could have been. At the time, John was beginning a career in brewing, something that would be at least a bit more lucrative than playing the washboard.
In 1986, John had a roommate that saw a brewer position advertised in Willamette Week by McMenamins Hillsdale Brewery & Public House and encouraged him to apply for what he felt should be "his job." John had done some homebrewing and read up as much as he was able to on it, which didn’t amount to much formal literature at the time. Feeling light on qualifications, he was somewhat surprised when McMenamins offered him the position. His boss proclaimed his chances of success directly from the get-go: he would either get the flow of brewing or not. As it turned out, John got it.
Two years later, with some professional brewing experience under his belt, he once again saw an ad, this time with Deschutes Brewery in Bend. They were looking for someone with two years of experience, which was considered a lot at that time. John knew that this was his job to go after and he was in a position to be able to relocate to Bend, which is what he proceeded to do after accepting the job.
When he came on board at Deschutes, owner Gary Fish taught him to brew three year-round offerings: a golden ale, a bitter and a porter along with seasonal beers. John's first seasonal was a wheat, followed by what is now a Deschutes staple — Mirror Pond. Sales of it quickly outpaced the bitter 3-to-1. But even with numbers to prove its popularity, Gary resisted replacing the bitter with Mirror Pond. He finally gave in a bit by bringing it on as a nine-month seasonal.
While John and his beers were successful at Deschutes, he said living in Bend wasn't much fun for someone who was an outsider. After four years, an opportunity with Full Sail Brewing came along that would allow John (and his now-wife) to return to Portland. John had known the Full Sail guys before they started looking for someone to head up their Portland location and both parties were comfortable with the autonomy John would have to run Portland operations.
Compared to the amount of beer the Bend facility turned out, the Portland location’s annual maximum capacity of 5,000 barrels was small, but it allowed John to continue to develop new beers for the Full Sail Brewmasters Reserve series. It was there that he also got the chance to learn more about the business of having a brewery, which included traveling with distributors and selling what he was making. From the beginning, John had viewed Full Sail as a good place to work and it was a solid job for a guy with a wife and two young kids. John was loyal to his job and ended up spending 20 years at Full Sail.
Throughout his career as a brewer, John continued to nourish his love of music, attending concerts and getting to know bands. That interest garnered invitations to play a lot with local bands Crawdads of Pure Love (based in Eugene), Ed and The Boats, and The Buds of May. He has even played with national bands such as The Mother Truckers, Zero, and Kingfish, fitting in appearances around their touring schedules and his brewing schedule -- a brewing schedule that changed in 2012 when he left Full Sail.
Some might have considered a 26-year run as a brewer a good one, especially when taking into consideration that he created recipes for Mirror Pond, Black Butte, Jubelale and Obsidian, among other things. Perhaps this would be when John started to think about spending his time doing something else. In his own way, John was. He was brewing up a plan for opening his own place and applying what he’d learned on both the brewing and business sides at Full Sail. In 2013 he opened Ecliptic Brewing, a brewpub whose name and the names of the beer, along with its interior design, speak to another love of John's: astronomy. When you have your own place, you set the rules -- and at Ecliptic, John has also brought music into the mix with a regular schedule of live performances. One band in particular, Off the Cuff, plays often -- with John shifting from brewer/owner to washboard player when he can.
Beyond the regular schedule of live music at Ecliptic, John has put together an event that will take place there Thursday, June 16th. Brewers and Their Bands will feature five brewers and bands they play with: John and Off the Cuff, The Moonshine with Max Skewes of Burnside Brewing, Indiana Tex Mex with Matt Swihart of Double Mountain Brewery, and Left Coast Convicts with Shaun Kalis of Ruse Brewing. The music will start around 5:30 p.m. and it will surely be an evening filled with great music, great beer and great people whose talents go beyond the brew kettle.
By Valerie Smith
For the Oregon Beer Growler
You know from instinct how certain music and sounds make you feel — relaxed, happy and energetic. It might even evoke vivid memories. Music is diverse and exists in every culture around the world. Humans like music. Plants even respond positively to exposure to music. Studies have shown that high-frequency sounds produce more antioxidative enzymes in plants. Would it surprise you that not only do you and your plants “like” music, but beer yeast cells do too? Sounds far-fetched, but it isn’t.
Metabolomics is the study of small molecules in the cells of an organism. In 2011, metabolomics researchers from the University of Auckland (U of A) in New Zealand did a study involving music and yeast cell growth. They used the single-celled organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae (S. cerevisiae), the species of yeast used since ancient times by brewers, winemakers and bakers. These forward-thinking lab geeks tested how S. cerevisiae reacts to sound pressure waves by putting the yeast in shake flasks along with a food source -- a glucose broth with vitamins — and let it sit overnight. They then piped in high- and low-frequency sonic vibration to the rooms where the flasks were being kept. The control for the study was a silent room. The study showed that the brewer’s friend, S. cerevisiae, grew 12 percent faster with music playing. High frequency produced slightly better results than low frequency, so it seems that any music therapy for yeast will prove successful!
Michael Kora, brewmaster and owner of the soon-to-open Montavilla Brew Works, appreciates the U of A’s findings. Kora received a bachelor’s degree in jazz studies from Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich. He played and taught drums and guitar years before delving into Portland’s brewing community. Because of his background, Kora believes music’s effect on yeast makes sense. “I think since yeast are living things, they may have some sentience, maybe on some form of preliminary consciousness. At any rate, I think that music on a very fundamental level is full of vibrations, wavelength and frequency patterns. All these measurements seem to correlate on some level with the rhythm of nature and definitely the fermentation of beer and yeast-powered products.”
Kora begins with the yeast selection when building recipes for Montavilla Brew Works. According to Kora, “Yeast is the unsung hero -- they do so much work! You treat (them) like a living thing and they’ll react like that. It’s almost like they’re human in a way. If you’re good to them, keep them healthy and happy, they’ll give back to you.” He nurtures beer development with seasonal music tracks: reggae, funk and the Grateful Dead in the summer, classical and blues in the winter and everything in between at other times. Jimi Hendrix and rock play during the cleanup.
The expansive and beneficial relationship between music and yeast may have come about because of brewer intuition, superstition or other cultural influences during the millennia. Today, the U of A’s metabolomics study proves serenading developing yeast has more benefits than anyone previously recognized. So play whatever rocks your brewhouse and the yeast will love you back.
Kyle Hollingsworth, keyboardist for The String Cheese Incident, played a show at Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House in April as part of the Craft Brewers Conference events. He regularly tours the country and serves as a guest beer maker at several breweries when not producing suds on his system at home. Photo by Emma Browne
By Andi Prewitt
Of the Oregon Beer Growler
Fans of “This is Spinal Tap” will be familiar with the phrase, “These go to 11.” The lead guitarist says the line while explaining to the rockumentary’s director that all of his amplifiers’ knobs go one level above the zero to 10 setting on standard equipment. Turning it up to 11 expresses maximal effort — going above and beyond to create an extraordinary experience. It’s not surprising, then, that this saying is often uttered by the keyboardist with The String Cheese Incident, Kyle Hollingsworth. He uses it to describe both the passion he puts into his music and enthusiasm he has for craft beer. Hollingsworth, who lives in Boulder, Colo., was in Oregon in April for a performance at Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House as part of the Craft Beer Conference. His unique ability to travel the country while on tour has allowed him to become immersed in geographically distinct craft beer scenes, gain access to a number of breweries as a guest beer maker and learn how his skill set gained through collaborations as an artist cross-applies to the brewhouse.
There are people who enjoy drinking beer and, perhaps, even exploring by sampling styles outside of their comfort zone. But then there are individuals who exhibit a deeper interest in the beverage — they seek out knowledge on the history of the craft. They want to know the ins and outs of the process and remain on top of developments in the field. Hollingsworth exhibits that deeper commitment to brewing. But his initial interest didn’t necessarily stem from such principled reasoning. He recalls getting into homebrewing around the age of 18, a time in life where motivations can be dubious.
“My brother had been homebrewing a couple of years before me, so, of course, I was like, ‘Cool, I’ll do what he’s doing! He’s listening to Grateful Dead, I’ll listen to that! He smokes pot, I’ll do that!’” Hollingsworth laughed.
He also admitted it was handy to be able to make something that ferments in the basement and then get a little buzz from consuming your experiment all before turning the legal drinking age. But brewing still took significant effort. Hollingsworth, who grew up in Baltimore, Md., didn’t have access to a wide array of brewing equipment. Decades ago, there certainly wasn’t the same sort of homebrewing boom that has been seen in recent years. Hollingsworth said there was pretty much just one homebrewing shop in the area that was run by an old guy with a big beard. While it sounds like some things haven’t changed in the realm of homebrewing, there clearly are advances he’s now grateful for. Hollingsworth would rely on this sole outpost to buy his homebrew “kit.” And in those days that simply meant cans of malt. Therefore, his attachment to the hobby was more about its inventive nature.
“I think the first thing that attracted me to it was the process for sure — the creativity that can go into the process, the ability to create something new out of three or four different elements that can become something else after it’s fermented,” he described.
Years of experience have allowed Hollingsworth to graduate to a 10-gallon Ruby Street homebrewing system that he uses in his backyard. He cites the advances in technology as allowing him to fine-tune things. And similar to the way that The String Cheese Incident’s sound is kind of funky and unique, Hollingsworth brings that style to his recipes. One of his favorite concoctions included sassafras gathered on his property. He cut up the roots and essentially used a “tea of sassafras” as his wort.
Hollingsworth readily admits he’s a better musician than he is a homebrewer. But the two roles have plenty of overlap. Musicians know that once they master the fundamental elements, it allows them the liberty to move beyond the basics and break the conventions. This describes much of what Hollingsworth’s sound has evolved into — when not playing with The String Cheese Incident, he’s holding jam sessions with other artists, often from other genres. There’s an element of risk involved as there is with any impromptu performance. A note could fall flat. Things could get out of sync. But not knowing whether something could go wrong makes it all the more thrilling, and a successful execution results in a more rewarding experience. Hollingsworth said the same idea applies to brewing. Once you get the technique to make standard styles, the freedom to “riff” becomes possible.
“And you’re never quite sure what’s going to happen,” Hollingsworth said. “You throw in sassafras root or you’ll try an orange peel or something or really weird adjuncts that you never thought would really work. And sometimes it turns out to be the best brew you’ve ever made or the best jam you’ve ever played. And out of that comes joy, in my mind at least. The joy is part of the grand experiment — it’s what’s going to happen when all of these things, all of these elements come together.”
He also pointed out that music and beer need proper balance. In a band, for example, it’s important to make sure the guitarist and lead vocalist aren’t 10 times louder in the mix than everyone else. Similarly, Hollingsworth said that if you’re drinking a beer and notice the malt bill is over the top or the hops are overpowering, the combination of ingredients needs adjustment. He added that sometimes the industry as a whole needs to check its balance. In the way that music fans flock to iTunes and download the hits, creating demand for similar-sounding music, breweries also encounter a certain beer or style that will have a surge in popularity, such as an IPA. Over time, that could compromise quality and lead to homogeneity. Hollingsworth said his hope was that a willingness to experiment would counteract that trend.
Hollingsworth is certainly driven to explore with his beer making. That’s led him to become a gypsy brewer, of sorts, and perhaps the envy of every craft beer aficionado out there. He’s made special collaboration brews with the likes of Stone Brewing Co., Boulder Beer Company, Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery and Ska Brewing Co., just to name a few. Of course, his involvement in the music industry opens a lot of doors that the average beer lover wouldn’t be able to access. But Hollingsworth’s fanatical approach to the projects probably helps as well. What really gets him weak in the knees isn’t encountering big-name rock stars — it’s meeting the elite of the beer world.
“I play with a lot of famous musicians, from Paul Simon to Zac Brown. And when I hang out with them I’m like, ‘Oh hey, how’s it going?’ And I’m not really that star struck,” he explained. “But when I see, like, famous brewers, I’m full on like, ‘Oh my God! That’s Mitch! That’s Mitch from Stone! I don’t know what to say. Should I say hello? Should I go up?’ I get all stammered, you know?”
One of his wildest brew dreams came true when he got to make a beer at Stone with fellow musician Keri Kelli, hard rock guitarist who used to play with Alice Cooper. Head brewer Mitch Steele wanted to produce a musician-inspired beer and he certainly ended up with two artists whose sounds are wildly different. Their approaches to the project were as well. Hollingsworth said he wasn’t really sure what type of beer he wanted to make, so was open to suggestions and experimentation. Kelli, however, came in and nixed that right off the bat. He was determined to do a double IPA. Hollingsworth, who loves the style, was immediately on board and the Stone Collective Distortion IPA was the result. To add some of The String Cheese Incident, hippy vibe to the beer, Hollingsworth had the head brewer play around with different herbs and spices, such as chamomile, lavender and sage. But elderberry and coriander won out in the end.
Now a brewing day with two musicians and no music just wouldn’t have been right. The experience ended up wrapping with a giant jam session that included the Stone production line. Hollingsworth estimated there were some 19 guitar players and 11 drummers. Working with new people, both in music and brewing, forces Hollingsworth out of his comfort zone and provides fresh perspective, since it’s easy to get used to the styles of those you’ve spent years with.
“For me, collaborations always bring out — not always — tend to bring out the best in everyone,” Hollingsworth said. “I feel like everyone kind of shows up to a collaboration bringing their A-game, so in a lot of ways the sum is always greater than the parts.”
Hollingsworth took pause when asked what he gets from brewing that he doesn’t from music (besides the obvious drinkable end product). Ultimately, he landed upon the satisfaction of consistency in what seems to be a life filled with constant change and improvisation.
“Even if I have a composed piece I’m playing the same every time, it’s always a little bit of wiggle room. It doesn’t always sound the way I want it,” he described. “But in some degrees with brewing, once I get good at it, as I talk to people who have more experience, I can make a good beer twice in a row versus I can’t make a great jam twice in a row. And once you get the elements together, you’ve kind of followed through on it. I feel like you get the consistency out of beer that I don’t always get out of music.”
In the near future, Hollingsworth will keep playing music and making beer. His touring is sure to bring him back to Portland as well. He sees this region as sort of the grandfather of the craft beer movement that will eventually help ground emerging markets like Asheville, N.C. He’s entertained the idea of starting his own brewery, but admitted it sounds like a lot of work. His thoughts then drifted to creating what sounds like the ideal hangout for any beer lover.
“I just kind of have this vision of a wooden bar with 15 of my favorite tap handles,” he shared.
There would be one saved for his own creation along with space for The String Cheese Incident and other acts to play in the back. Lucky for the people in Boulder, Colo. if Hollingsworth makes it happen. In the meantime, though, you can be sure that whatever he does, it won’t stop at 10. He will be turning things up to 11.
By Erica Tiffany-Brown
Of the Oregon Beer Growler
Our state’s capital is home to one of the most humble czars you’ll ever meet. His laid-back demeanor likely stems from the fact that he’s in command of something quite unpretentious.
Known as the “Venti’s Beer Czar,” Jarred Venti has been providing two of Salem’s favorite hangout spots with an amazing lineup of beers and beer-themed events for more than a year and a half now.
When Jarred’s dad, Mike, and uncle, Dino, started their business back in 1996, it was initially branded as Venti’s Bento and was housed in downtown Salem’s historic Reed Opera House. In 2008, the place now known as Venti’s Cafe + Basement Bar moved to a new space across the street and has been wildly successful ever since. Today, bento is still the signature dish, but the menu has increased dramatically — including 10 craft-only beers and ciders.
“Dino was way ahead of the craft beer scene in Salem. He was paying more attention to what was going on in Portland and Eugene. No one in Salem was really paying attention to that,” Jarred says. Dino and his wife Leslie now own both locations.
Venti’s Cafe + Taphouse, which opened in south Salem in 2011, is the bigger location and hosts many fun events, including a huge anniversary celebration every August. Last year, the event was called “Salem’s Amazing Local Exhibition of Microbrews (SALEM).” All 24 of the taps were taken over by Salem beer and cider.
As beer czar, Jarred helps put together these kinds of festivities, including tap takeovers, Beer Geek trainings and Craft Brewed Concerts. Since October 2013, Jarred has also been fully in charge of ordering beer for both locations, including around 100 bottled beers at the Taphouse, and about half that at the Basement Bar. When it comes to beer, he makes all the final decisions — just like any czar would.
So, how does one obtain such a regal title? In Jarred’s case, it’s kind of something he just fell into. “The beer czar at the time, Matt Killikelly, was also starting up Santiam Brewing with his partners. He had a lot going on, so they were looking for someone to come in and help out a couple days a week. One day a week became two days a week, became three days a week, became four days a week … Almost a year into it, Matt decided he needed to devote himself full time to Santiam Brewing, so I had to step up and fill some pretty big shoes. And I’ve been immersed in the craft beer scene ever since.”
When Jarred isn’t busy being a commander of beer, he is a member of not one, not two, but three bands. If you think that’s impressive, you’ll find it hard to believe he was involved with six or seven bands a year ago. His current lineup includes playing bass for Rich McCloud, providing bass and vocals for Magical Mystery Four (a Beatles tribute band) and bass and vocals for Still Water Vibes.
While Jarred tries to divide his attention equally among the three bands, Still Water Vibes has been keeping him the busiest lately since their debut album came out at the end of May. “We call ourselves a blues band, but it’s really also heavily influenced by funk and soul music … and a little bit of rock ‘n’ roll.”
Just like how Venti’s started as a family affair, so did Jarred’s passion for music at the age of 14. “We have a lot of musicians in my family, my uncle Mario is an amazing piano player, and his son Josh, my cousin, is an amazing bass player. He’s sort of the inspiration for me picking up the bass.”
Although Venti’s is well known for its live music, you won’t find Jarred playing there too often — but he’s happy to let other artists take center stage. “Andrew (Hussey) books the music there, and he always does a good job at bringing in a lot of great out-of-town bands, which I think is awesome.”
Hussey books the musical acts for the Taphouse’s Craft Brewed Concerts, and Jarred chooses a beer pairing. “I usually try to arrange a special tapping of some sort to coincide with the music. It’s a cool way to bring live music and craft beer together.” A recent evening featured the video game sounds of Emulator combined with eight space-themed beers.
The Taphouse also hosts Lounge Nights, in which two of Jarred’s good friends, Nathan Olsen and John Pounds, play keyboard and bass during the opening set and then allow any and all singers to join in. “They’re both incredible musicians. The best at what they do in the area, for sure. We’re really lucky to have them come down every Tuesday.”
Aside from hanging out at Venti’s, you’ll likely find Jarred playing shows at Salem’s Vagabond Brewing, Half Penny Bar and Grill or Duffy’s Hangar, where he even hosts a monthly jam session. “I know a ton of musicians, and it’s a cool way for me to bring everyone together in one spot and just play music together.” All artists, regardless of skill level, are welcome to join.
If he ever needs some extra help warming up for his night gig, the beer czar likes to keep it local. “When I play at Vagabond, I always try something new. Every time I play at Half Penny, I’m drinking Hop Penny from Salem Ale Works (an Irish red only available in-house). When I play at Duffy’s, I like to drink Gilgamesh Vader (a coffee CDA).”
“I’m just super proud of Salem. We’re finally starting to get a beer scene down here. It seems like every day something new is opening up. I’m really excited to be a part of it.”
This is one czar who is definitely all about his people. He’s the true definition of what a leader should be: he’s passionate about what he does, he supports his community as much as possible and he makes a valiant effort to bring everyone together. Oh, and he supplies the masses with funky music and tasty beer. All hail Jarred Venti!
Cafe + Basement Bar
[a] 325 Court St. NE, Salem
Cafe + Taphouse
[a] 2840 Commercial St. SE, Salem
The Eugene-based band, Blue Lotus, recently recorded an album at Ninkasi Brewing’s in-house studio and will hold a release party at the brewery in late June. They’ve developed a longstanding relationship with the beer maker since playing their first show on Ninkasi’s patio in 2010. Photo by AJ McGarry
By Anthony St. Clair
For the Oregon Beer Growler
In 2010, guitarist and singer/songwriter Brandelyn Rose was organizing shows with her new band, Blue Lotus, based in Eugene. Their search for interesting venues led to a young brewery.
“Our first show was actually on Ninkasi's patio,” says Rose, but the band’s involvement with the brewery didn’t stop there.
Later, Blue Lotus organized a national tour but needed a trailer. “We didn't have any outside funding,” Rose recollects. “We went to Ninkasi and proposed a sponsorship, and they helped us purchase a trailer. Ninkasi also provided us with beer in trade for advertising.”
Fast-forward to 2015. After four albums and accolades including being named as one of Relix magazine’s "Bands on the Rise" in 2012 and 2013, Blue Lotus wanted to create their first full-length “live” album, with studio support. Ninkasi had recently opened an in-house production and recording studio, inside their new administrative headquarters.
“It just made sense to have them record us,” Rose says.
So it was time to talk to James Book.
The Man Behind the Music
Book came to Ninkasi after 25 years in the music business, much of it on the road. As part of American post-grunge group The Flys — whose 1998 "Got You (Where I Want You)” hit number five on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks — Book toured Europe. “Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was learning a lot about beer.”
After the band went on indefinite hiatus in 2002, Book decided “it was time to leave the party” in Hollywood. Now in Eugene with his family, Ninkasi’s brand and experiential marketing director revolves around imagination and fermentation. “From my experience, music is a lot like craft beer,” Book explains. “Both put an indelible stamp on the psyche. Think of the best things that ever happened to you in your life. Music and beer were probably there.”
The two are also in the midst of disruption. “Like beer, music is finding a revolution,” Book says. “The music business in the ‘90s got really locked down in the corporate world. But brewing and making music are pursuits of the heart that can’t be denied. Lots of today’s breweries are rooted in that.”
The Business Sense of a Brewery Studio
Ninkasi mixes sounds and suds as a combination of passion, personalities, business sense and favorable laws. At its most practical level, Book says, “states such as Oregon allow us to also support for-profit organizations such as bands.”
Along with Ninkasi co-founders Jamie Floyd and Nikos Ridge, and chief financial officer Nigel Francisco, Book has worked on focusing Ninkasi’s sponsorship efforts around things the founders and employees are personally passionate about. “We’re still able to do the things we love and use them as our marketing, whether it’s music, or outdoor sports such as climbing, surfing or fishing,” Book explains. “We sponsor everything from pro kayakers to musicians, the kinds of niche activities that we like to participate in.”
Ninkasi’s musician support takes many forms: co-branding merchandise that bands can sell, supporting tours, designing album covers through Ninkasi’s in-house art department and showcasing bands at the South by Southwest (SXSW) annual festival and conference in Austin, Texas.
“The primary way this year has been helping musicians record or produce albums in Ninkasi’s studio,” Book says. Since opening the studio last year, Ninkasi has worked on recordings and production with 12 artists. “We tailor support for each band individually, since no two bands need the same thing.”
While Ninkasi supports bands, they only work with musicians who have a clear sense of purpose and goals. “We get a lot of bands that say ‘sponsor me,’ but they have no idea what they want from us. That usually stems from them not knowing what they want for themselves, from their own careers,” Book explains. “We aren’t here to design their goals for them, we want to help them reach their own goals.”
Inside the Creative Cave
The studio can be toured by the public but booked only by musicians Ninkasi sponsors. Once inside, you find creative caves, complete with a live room, isolation, a control room, a digital audio workstation called Pro Tools and Class A mic preamps.
Book beams at what’s ahead: installing an API console, what many consider the greatest mixing board. “There have been more gold and platinum records from that board than any other,” Book says.
The studio has capabilities similar to a label: Book produces and presses albums, and Ninkasi’s marketing team facilitates publicity. “While our logo might appear on the back of the record, the album and the intellectual property of the songs are the property of the artist, not us,” Book explains. “We never take revenue from any of the albums that are sold. That all goes to the artist.”
Blue Lotus Blossoming
As Blue Lotus and Book put the finishing touches on the new album, Brandelyn Rose is excited about the band and the brewery’s continued progress.
“I love that we can support Ninkasi,” Rose says. “We have watched each other grow from seedlings to where we are now. I love that James has incorporated his love of music into his work. I think it is brilliant. Who loves to drink beer? Bar goers, music lovers, bands. By sponsoring the music and becoming a part of the music scene, Ninkasi has created a ‘music culture’ around the beer.”
Book’s outlook is similar. “Watching Blue Lotus merge live and studio art forms before my very eyes has been exciting.” Steeped both in the music and brewing businesses, he understands that what really matters is passion, authenticity and doing what you love.
“Any brewery can sponsor bands,” Book points out, “but having a studio at the brewery campus? It’s a way for us to authentically be involved in the artists we support. We make music with them, producing them or just enabling them to make the music they want. Authenticity cannot be replaced in music, beer or any line of business.”
Then it’s time to get back to work. Blue Lotus plans to release their new album, “Across the Canyon,” later this month — with a release party at Ninkasi.
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