By Elizabeth Derstine
Steve Martin, owner of Ignition Garage, a music Mecca in downtown Goshen, has two daughters who both listen to music. The eldest is 34 and has one of the largest CD collections he has ever seen, and the youngest is 26 and until recently didn’t own a single CD. With the advent of digital music, the consumption of music has changed dramatically over the last few years.
“Digital music is like fast food,” said Martin, “but if people want an experience there is still the really good restaurants.”
Ignition Garage is a smorgasbord of fine dining. The store offers CDs and vinyls from the Beatles to Mumford and Sons to Jay-Z.
“Young people need to hear recordings how the artist intended them to be heard,” said Martin. Ignition Garage provides the means for this end through both live performances and the retail for purchase. “[You can] download an album of music for $9.99 but for 10 dollars more you can get art,” said Martin.
“There is a current generation of young people who only share music through links and rarely sit down and listen together,” said Martin.
Ignition Garage is for energizing artists who can deliver their recording live and for audiences ready and rapt to listen to new music.
Many of the bands that play live at Ignition Garage are Americana. Michael Holland, a senior who interned at Ignition Garage, said, “They are normally really popular but not top 40.”
What bands need, according to Martin, is radio airplay, retail and venues.
Other than Goshen College’s award winning radio station, 91.1 the Globe, Martin decided to provide two other radio stations. So he created something that was relatively scarce—a place for listening to live music that holds under 200 people. Many smaller places where artists could play, like coffee shops and nightclubs, would not be focused on the listening, and larger venues need to amp up the sound for projection, which can cause the music to lose form. Bands comment on the authenticity of their experience at Ignition, the acoustics and the novelty of playing before an audience that doesn’t watch through their cell phones but actually listens.
Martin said, “Jason Samuel [manager of the Goshen College radio] calls it the 360 experience.”
Ignition Garage has triedto offer student discount tickets in the past, though it’s not always possible. Sarah Jarosz, a singer whose music has been described as “newgrass,” a new form of bluegrass, will play at Ignition at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Los Colognes, a country blues duo, will perform October 26.
Will Johnson, who plays American roots music, and special guest Ernie Hendrickson, will come for a show November 12. Birds of Chicago, a singer/songwriter duo, and folk artist Chicago Farmer will play November 23.
Martin said, “If I would have the audience I could book this space three nights a week.”
Ignition Garage has been on national tours for bands. Just this year audience members traveled over 100 miles to see the folk-pop band Pearl and the Beard.
Michael Holland said, “One artist played on David Letterman the night before us.”
Martin was able to sum up Ignition Garage in four words: “Good music done right.”