The Grant Street Musician’s Co-op is not a conventional music venue, nor a conventional anything. Located in a small building just off the alley adjacent to Soma Coffeehouse & Juice Bar, the atmosphere is far removed from the world of stages and spotlights; it hearkens to the days before recording, when, if you wanted to hear music, you had to make it yourself.

The co-op was established at its current location in May by a group of local musicians already informally associated as a collective, including Travis Puntarelli, Marc Haggerty, and Aaron Comforty. “It blew up by the end of August,” says member Joe Savarino, “with all kinds of people volunteering and doing awesome creative things.”

Every conceivable art form is welcomed at the co-op. African drum lessons are taught on Sunday; creative open mic takes place on Monday and includes storytelling and poetry as well as music (no prior signup is required.) “Every Wednesday night, I help teach a world chants class, where we do all types of chants—mantras, Gregorian, and Native American,” says Savarino.

At the ever-present jam sessions, one might hear everything from traditional spirituals to protest songs to Jane’s Addiction covers, as well as original material. Local bands and touring acts also perform there but because of neighborhood noise restrictions, the music is strictly acoustic.

“It’s become really inclusive,” says Jake Braunecker, a Bloomington native and busker whose group, Wildflower Union, is a fixture at the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market. “A lot of the people aren’t even artists. They just come in to share with us, help us organize…there are so many ways to be involved that have nothing to do with playing an instrument,” he says.

The building is owned by, and next door to, The Venue, Fine Art & Gifts, and was once the site of a lingerie boutique. The co-op is currently renting on a month-to-month basis. “We’re hoping to sign a lease when we have funds secured for an entire year’s rent in one lump sum,” says Braunecker. A Kickstarter campaign is in the works to help raise the money.

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