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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Intimate new music venue in historic building north of Kendall Yards debuts Jan. 1

Don Hamilton and Lorna St. John, not pictured, are turning their photography studio into a new concert venue. Country singer-songwriter Brennen Leigh and her trio performed on New Year’s Day at the new Hamilton Studio Listening Room, 1427 W. Dean Ave.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Spokane will be breaking in the new year with a new, intimate concert venue nestled in a historic building a short walk north from Kendall Yards.

The Hamilton Studio Listening Room’s inaugural concert on Jan. 1 will feature Nashville-based country singer-songwriter Brennen Leigh. Tickets are selling for a flat $80 fee; all profits from the event will go to support Spokane Public Radio.

The Hamilton Studio, formerly the St. Joseph’s School Auditorium and Gym, is on the Spokane historic register. The listening room is an experiment by longtime photographer, filmmaker and producer Don Hamilton, who bought the building in 1985 from the Catholic Diocese of Spokane, in partnership with his wife, Lorna St. John.

Arranged on two sides of the stage, none of the venue’s 90 seats is further than 30 feet from the performers.

“In that room, the music is perfect,” Hamilton said.

It isn’t the first time that a concert has been held in the venue – two concerts over the summer confirmed the space could support acoustic and amplified performances, but Hamilton was inspired to make the space into a permanent concert venue with a state-of-the-art audio system.

Hamilton hopes the venue can help to fill some of the void left by the closing of Lucky You Lounge in August a little more than a mile away.

“After the Lucky You Lounge closed, we thought, jeez, some of these bands would like to book a venue between St. Paul and Olympia,” Hamilton said.

He’s excited about the sound system and intimate nature of the space, and noted he was thrilled to have gotten Leigh to agree to be the first performance. Leigh’s album “Ain’t Through Honky Tonkin’ Yet” was released earlier this year.

“It’s an experiment, but I think this will be the best concert I’ve ever attended, and I saw The Beatles – twice!” Hamilton said.

Hamilton serves as president for Spokane Public Radio’s Community Advisory Board and hopes that the listening room’s first concert will be proof of concept for the venue and raise money for the city’s National Public Radio member station.

“Spokane Public Radio definitely needs financial support,” Hamilton said.