Kevin Kleptz talks about booking bands as if asking for musicians’ phone numbers and haggling over guarantees is something he’s done for the past decade, not just the past ten weeks. “It’s just like being friendly,” he explained.
By now, “being friendly” has resulted in approaches from, on average, five bands per day. Local musicians are enthusiastic about JC’s Corner, the new concert venue in Elkhart that Kleptz started with three friends who have known each other since high school: Keith Beber, a junior communication major who handles the sound and technical aspects, and Nathan Martin and Knox Capre. Kleptz, a sophomore communication major manages the Web site and promotion.
JC’s Corner is on County Road 113, near Target and Meijer. The building is connected to New Life in Christ Ministries, whose pastor, Donnie Greathouse, financially backs the endeavor. Beber said, “He likes it because it gives kids a safe place to go on Friday nights.” Though local bands get 35 percent of the profits from a show, Kleptz said that Greathouse is the one who shells out the three or four hundred dollars that signed bands with “fierce booking agents” demand as guarantees.
In return, the profits from JC’s Corner are donated to the church and the community, and the friends have come up with an ethical code for their venue. “We are doing our best to present a positive message to our patrons,” their website says. “If you/your band are all about negative junk (i.e. suicide, death, killing people, etc.) you will not get booked for a show. There’s enough junk in the world. We don’t need or want to promote any more of it.”
The bands they’ve attracted so far are mostly local and regional. However, they are planning on bringing in a group from Chicago this summer, and there’s even talk of one from California. JC’s Corner is already booked through May with two or three shows per month.
The audience turnout “keeps doubling in number,” according to Kleptz. Approximately 80 people have showed up to each of the recent shows-friends of the bands, high school students and Goshen College students. Kleptz added, “We want to get as many kids from the college there as we can.”
Kleptz is putting in about 14 hours a week of volunteer time on the project now. “It definitely helps that we’re all friends,” he said, “Because a lot of times we have to tell each other no. If we weren’t friends, we’d be at each other throats.”
Beber doesn’t know what will happen after next year. “It depends where we go after graduation, where we can get jobs,” he said. However, there are at least a couple of summers left to expand the venue.
“I don’t see it going anywhere,” said Kleptz. Then he corrected himself with a laugh, “I mean I don’t see it leaving.”
This Saturday JC’s Corner hosts Stop Cancer Fest. All proceeds will be donated to Relay for Life.
Details and directions are available at www.myspace.com/jc39scorner.
There is also information online about other upcoming shows, which are usually on Friday nights and cost $5 at the door.