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The Boom Room: A Show of Gratitude.

January 10, 2017


Text by Ian Schobel. Images by Charles Shan Cerrone.

It’s 9 p.m. on a Tuesday night in Fishtown and Gary Dann, in his solid gray T-shirt, geometric patterned shorts and flip-flops, is dressed for the beach.

But he’s not ready for a vacation just yet. Perched in his control room, Dann monitors an analog mixing console for a hard rock band in the midst of an explosive jam. The female vocalist unleashes a wail that drowns out her bandmates, prompting Dann to adjust the faders, while he bobs his head with the drums and occasionally tweaks a knob on the massive soundboard. Gradually, a pent up smile relieves the furrows of concentration on his forehead; he’s pleased with the sound.

Dann – an audio engineer, producer and musician – opened The Boom Room, a recording studio and rehearsal spot, in 2011. He’s building the space into a fully-equipped, multifaceted center for the arts, while diligently developing a diverse musical community within the white stucco building that sits across the street from Kung Fu Necktie.

“The location of the studio put me in the right spot at the right time,” Dann says. “Not only has The Boom Room grown but around me, the whole neighborhood has exploded. We have a really awesome family of R&B, hip-hop, rock, jazz, ’80s cover bands and everything in between.”

Though acts like Billy Paul, The Heavy, Aimee Mann and Beanie Sigel have come through since The Boom Room opened, big-name clientele is not the norm.

“We’re in between the high-end studio guys and the basement recording guys,” Dann explains. “It’s a really wide market.”

Dann is riding a wave of success in his niche and he’s sharing the love with his extended musical family. Because of the support he’s been shown not only in the last five years of having the studio, but also in the 10 years of being an engineer and drummer in the city before that, he wanted to do something to give back to the local music community.

So once a month, he brings in artists to use The Boom Room’s new live streaming video service for free. Called “The Free Jawn,” this gift gives artists an opportunity to shoot, record and stream their live performance with professional-grade video camcorders, microphones and lighting.

“If you don’t have a performance video, it’s hard to get in anywhere,” Dann says. “For most people, video production is just not accessible. I’m helping to uplift these artists who would not otherwise have a way to show the world what they’re doing.”

And since most people have the ability to stream video from their phones or laptops, people from anywhere in the world can watch these live performances.

Philly musicians are already feeling the love.

“Gary is extremely professional and meticulous when it comes to getting the sound, the camera angles and ambiance just right,” says JaE The Artist, a soul-infused rocker who recorded a free set in June. “Over 8,200 views later, it helped us book events in Charlotte, North Carolina, and two music festivals, one in Virginia and one in South Carolina.”

In a sense, The Free Jawn is an extension of The Boom Room’s overall philosophy: take good care of the family, provide a cost-effective space with the latest and greatest in music technology and the community will grow.

You get the feeling Dann is already looking for the next jawn to add to his repertoire.

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