In Session: Brian Dorn

GLOVERSVILLE – In an otherwise quiet area of Upstate NY, efforts are being made to bring more arts-related events into the community. Spearheading the effort is Brian Dorn, owner of Dorn Space. Over the course of a few years, Dorn has brought in a plethora of talent, ranging from nationally-touring independent acts the likes of SIRSY, as well as first-time performers. Hosting events ranging from music, poetry, and more, the space has really developed into something special in a short amount of time.

I had a chance to sit down with Brian this week. What follows is our conversation.

Lucas Garrett: Thank you, Brian, for sitting down with us today. How’re you doing?

Brian Dorn: I’m doing alright, Lucas! Thanks so much for contacting me.

LG: I first heard of you a while ago through another singer-songwriter in the area, Girl Blue. I saw that she was playing there, and I really liked what I saw. How did that all come to be?

BD: That’s a really good question; sometimes I wonder that, myself. I started out really interested in the poetry world of upstate New York. I started going to open mics and reading my own poetry, and really enjoying that scene. I actually started promoting some of the events, as well. I promoted with a guy named Harvey Havel; we did some stuff in Albany. I started running a poetry contest at the William K. Sanford Library, which was pretty successful.

I decided to expand on things and find an inexpensive, small room that I could do whatever I wanted to. I went out to Gloversville – I was born there – and I figured they could probably use more arts’ related activity out there. I thought they’d be pretty receptive to it. I looked into a couple of small rooms, including a space above the Glove Theater.

I found a couple of interesting spaces, but I happened to bump into somebody out in the street who told me I could buy a building in Gloversville for almost nothing. I looked into it and I thought that it’d cost this amount of money to rent a space, or I could buy a building where it’d be cheaper to just have the whole building; around ten times the space I was looking at. It happened so quick, where the next day I was buying a building. It was about spoken-word, poetry, and stuff like that, and it turned into a multi-arts place with tons of singer-songwriters, comedy, and more.

LG: One of the most unique things I’ve seen in a venue like Dorn Space, is the variety of people that you have coming in and out of there. You have people that have never performed before that are playing there, and then you have people like SIRSY, who’ve toured the nation, that are playing there. It’s really fascinating. How do you go about booking? Do they reach out to you, or you to them?

BD: When we first started out, no one knew who we were, so we were asking people like Girl Blue and Kevin McKrell – people we knew were really good to bring out. People were thrilled by the fact we had these great artists coming. It didn’t take long before people started contacting us. It’s a great place for opportunity for a lot of artists…

We do the best we can with accommodating people, but now I’m getting so many requests. Every day, I get so many requests to play, and I wish I could get back to everyone. Maybe someday we will be able to do five or six shows a week, and that’d be great. We’d be able to give people even more chances.

LG: Where do you see the venue going from here?

BD: We take it one event at a time, just seeing where it goes. We’ve done different things; tried different things during COVID. Because we couldn’t have any events for a year due to COVID, we used the upstairs as a gallery. We called it “Lefty’s Pop Culture Gallery,” with a thousand different pop culture images. It’s a really nice space upstairs. We’re just going with wherever it takes us, not necessarily making any long-range plans.

LG: Is there anything else you’d like to talk about today?

BD: We’ve got some really good people coming up. We have an interesting event in June called the “Dorn Space Awards.” That’ll be the third time doing that. We also call it the Dorn Stars; we try not to take ourselves too seriously. That’s coming up Sunday, June 11th at 2:00 pm. We have Mark and Jill Sing the Blues on May 20th.

LG: They’re fantastic; I love their music.

BD: We’ve had 300 events now and every one of them has been good. It’s been tremendous how great everybody has been.

LG: That’s pretty awesome. Thank you again for your time, Brian. I look forward to seeing more of what happens at Dorn Space!

BD: Thanks so much, Lucas!

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