BY BRIDGETT HENWOOD
From the street, nothing about the house at 1417 W. Monon Dr. appears out of the ordinary. But every Sunday night it transforms into a music venue called The Switchyard, where friends and friends of friends share an evening of entertainment and community.
“We wanted to start up a weekly event with class that allowed artists to have their time to shine,” says resident Tim Baker. In 2010 Baker and his housemate, Jason “JP” Payton, began inviting friends over on Sunday nights to play music, read poetry, and share other special talents. The name was inspired by the house’s proximity to the former railroad switchyard along what is now the B-Line Trail. Soon, Payton and Baker began expanding their artist base by inviting local performers to play at The Switchyard.
“About that same time, touring bands began finding out about us as a place to play,” says Payton. According to Baker, it’s rare for touring bands to find good Sunday gigs. Because a Switchyard show can attract up to 60 people, bands benefit from the extra audience exposure. And guests needn’t worry about getting bored with one artist, Baker says. Every show includes three acts and each plays a 30-minute set. If sitting back and watching isn’t enough, every first Sunday of the month is open-mic night.
Ryan Deasy, The Switchyard’s audio engineer, records each show, and he included some of the best songs on The Switchyard Volume I, a compilation CD, which can be heard from time to time on WFHB community radio. Volume II was released in March 2013.
But The Switchyard is about more than just live entertainment, says Baker. It’s about community. “We didn’t want to have an event that excluded people.… Usually there’s a gaggle of little kids running around the house, and different parents take over watching them.” The preshow potluck supper, for which everyone is invited to bring a dish, is shared in the kitchen or backyard. According to Payton, this meal helps foster the sense of inclusiveness at The Switchyard. “This is our house, and this is your house,” says Baker.
Check The Switchyard’s Facebook page for details of upcoming shows at a house that is out of the ordinary.