THE JIVE MILL IS A NEW MUSIC VENUE ON NORTH BROADWAY IN ROCHESTER WHERE I WITNESSED AN INVITE MIc—A PLANNED EVENT WHERE MUSICIANS OR SPOKEN WORD ARTISTS ARE GIVEN A THEME OR TOPIC TO WRITE AND PERFORM ON. The JIVE MILL HOSTS invite mic events ALONG WITH A VARIETY OF MUSICAL GROUPS.
The Jive Mill, which opened its doors in June, began in 2012 as a house concert at the home of Noelle Tripolino Roberts, owner, and her husband, Christopher Roberts, manager. With the help of Joshua Poencet managing the physical space of the building and Carsten Earl creating ambience with lighting and sound, this team has created an experience between musician and audience that must not be missed.
For the past four years, they have been relying on family and friends to open their homes for house concerts. This intimate setting allowed for a dialogue between audience and musician and time for an artist to share more of his or her vision and experience of creating a piece.
Carsten explains the mission of The Jive Mill with clarity and vision: “This intimate setting allows the musicians to take the audience on a musical journey,” he says. “The ability to share back stories and inspiration gives the audience an insight and closer look into the musician’s experience, enabling them to hear the songs in a new way.”
The Jive Mill’s core value is “music first.” This was immediately apparent upon my first experience at the venue. When I arrived, the sound check was really loud, so I moved my folding chair to the back wall. I had some judgments until the music started. Then I got what “music first” means. There’s nothing like seeing really exceptional musicians
playing live music right in front of you, without any distractions. Your
whole being is engaged—all your senses, even your soul. It reminds me of the Blue Note in New York or the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis, except there wasn’t the pressure to buy a meal, and as a family-friendly establishment, The Jive Mill isn’t serving alcohol. It isn’t about any of those things. It’s about “music first.”
The first Friday I went to The Jive Mill I saw the D’Sievers and Root River Jam. It was impressive to see them so close up and be one with the music. That night was also the opening to Beth Sievers’ art show, her artwork adding to the living room-like quality of The Jive Mill. The Sievers’ daughters served the audience cookies, and I left with a strong sense of what it means to be part of a community, where everyone can play a part, have a role.
The next Friday, The OK Factor performed, with Olivia Dierecks on cello and Karla Colahan on violin. They were the first performing musical group for The Jive Mill’s new space opening and performed again for the three-month anniversary. They have graced the stages of The Cedar Cultural Center, Stone Arch Bridge Festival and the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis. Their authentic sound of mixing classical with original music was addictive. Olivia shared during their set the challenges that family and friends give them to take historical or popular songs and create new music as a string duo. The one that struck me was “Wade in the Water,” which they retitled “Dirty Water.” It was so incredible to hear string instruments capturing my favorite spiritual song.
The Jive Mill offers concerts every Friday night and hosts both local and nationally known jazz and classical musicians and singer/songwriters. Visit thejivemill.com to keep up-to-date on who is playing there. Whether they stay in the same location or move to a larger venue, they will continue to create powerful musical experiences for the Rochester community.
Joy Blewett is a local freelance writer, designer and art teacher.