How The Troy Speakeasy Reinvigorated The Local DIY Scene
TROY – The Capital Region’s DIY music scene is alive, and much of its current vitality can be attributed to the Troy Speakeasy and its founder Dan Shapiro. I spoke with Dan about his experience running the music venue.
Originally from Boston, Shapiro is a musician, an independent contractor, and a concert booker. The Berklee grad grew up playing jazz music, but he started joining rock bands in Brooklyn after graduating from the prestigious music school. “Seeing basement shows, house concerts, and DIY venues [in] places like Allston, MA, Brooklyn, NY, New Paltz, NY, and Kingston, NY” inspired him to start a venue of his own.
When asked to describe the Troy Speakeasy, Shapiro referred to it as the result of a question: “what are the structures and limitations of the DIY music scene?” The Covid-19 pandemic left performers and audiences hungry for live shows, so he created the venue in 2021 as “an opportunity for artists to be themselves. To be weird. To try new things.” This shines through with featured acts like She’s Having A Meltdown, a performer who cooks grilled cheese sandwiches on a griddle in front of live audiences. Dan sets out to “be a positive influence on not only the music community, but the cities and towns where we reside.” He does this by giving artists “a stage, literally and figuratively.”
Beyond live grilled-cheese-making, performers of all types are accepted onto the Speakeasy stage. Everyone is welcome so long as their work embodies creativity and self-expression. This includes rock bands, DJs, pop singers, experimental noise-makers, performance artists and more.
Shapiro compares running a DIY venue to “being in a band with a hundred different people.” According to him, “the most difficult aspects are creating and enforcing boundaries, talking money, running the door, and promoting.” He books through e-mails and Instagram DMs, and states that working with bands and managers who are “communicative, organized, and on top of things” is crucial to helping him stay focused on hosting, cleaning, running sound, and hospitality. His advice to anyone looking to start a DIY venue is to make sure that artists and audiences feel safe, welcome, and comfortable. Also, “get extra gear in case it gets lost, broken, or beer spilled on it.”
When he is not hosting shows, Dan spends his time doing construction work, going to music festivals, traveling, making music, reading, hiking, doing yoga, doing dump runs, and building camper vans. He writes, records, and performs original music under the name LSDaniel.
Upcoming shows at the Speakeasy include Albany-based indie-rock band Side-B on Jan. 19 and Norwegian duo Ask Carol on Feb. 28. More information about upcoming events like these can be found on Instagram @troyspeakeasy.