“In-store performances were a big deal when I was growing up, in the 80s and 90s,” says CD Heaven owner Candace Redden. “Then they began to die. I think the idea of an in-store performance is very romantic.”
For the past four years, the Dartmouth music and merchandise store mall has hosted free all-ages in-store performances by local and visiting bands of all stripes - from Glory Glory to Hellacaust. Since the store is nestled in a Wyse Road strip mall, loud shows are restricted to Saturday nights (usually between 6 - 8pm) while quieter acoustic shows happen on Friday evenings and weeknights.
Redden tries to book three bands per show, and bands are free to bring along support acts of their own choosing. A PA system, microphones and stands are provided. Although you can’t charge at the door — “I will never charge anyone to come into my store to see a band,” says Redden — bands are encouraged to strike a deal and leave merchandise at the store to be sold. Over half their inventory is local.
Turnouts vary, depending on factors such as the weather, publicity, etc. Redden recalls an Envision show four years ago when the store was packed to the gills.
“It was a beautiful sight — punks sitting on punk shoulders,” she says. “It was nerve-wracking but also amazing.”
It’s pretty clear that Redden does this because she loves it, and by hosting these shows, she allows bands to reach out to an all-ages Dartmouth-based audience that sometimes gets overlooked.
September is a busy month for in-stores, starting this Friday with Burnt Sugar, an acoustic duo. You can learn about upcoming shows by joining the CD Heaven group on Facebook, and if you’re looking to book a show there, call 464-0123 and ask for Redden.
If you have an all-ages venue that we should know about, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.