Tucked away in an inset doorway on Kedzie, Brown Rice is an experimental musician's dream come true. Opened in February 2008 by five musicians (Renee Baker, Dan Godston, Ben Gray, Jay Ve Montgomery and Joel Wanek) looking for a venue for musical expression and a place to try out new ideas, this hidden gem of a performance space is something like your parents' basement, only much hipper. "Eclectic" is almost too tame of a word to describe the venue, which features red and brown walls decorated with random artwork.
The "audience" sits on mismatched couches and chairs spread throughout the room. Don't like your spot? Pick up your chair and move it. Most listeners bring their own notebooks to riff in their own way on the creativity the space creates. "You'll hear a lot of firsts and works that are in the process," explains co-creator Renee Baker. That's the idea behind this creatively organic workspace: artists can test material here on smaller audiences in the same way that classical chamber music was once played in smaller intimate settings.
There's no telling what the performance of the night will be (well you can check the site for listings, but it's mostly improvisational, so anything can happen). There are poetry readings, experimental jazz, film screenings and multimedia presentations (both projected onto a large pull-down projector screen hanging from the ceiling) and all types of ethnic and exotic band performances, among other things. The prices are unbeatable, typically listed as "suggested donations," and while those with strictly formulaic musical tastes may balk, anyone looking for a surprise and a unique musical experience will not be disappointed.
Centerstage Reviewer: Zach Freeman