Musicians Ben Opie, David Throckmorton, Colter Harper, Chris Parker and Matt Booth keep busy with multiple projects at a time, occasionally collaborating with one another. Despite their differing musical styles, they understand the importance of trying out new work on a live audience, even if it's still under construction.
"[David and I] have been talking for years about wanting to have some sort of regular series," says saxophonist Opie (of OPEK and Thoth Trio). "Not necessarily us playing every single week, but having a place to play on a regular basis to try to not only keep ourselves out in the public but also help develop these projects."
Last October, Harper, Parker and Booth joined the discussion. The five musicians tossed around ideas at a show at which Opie was performing, and continued their conversation via email for several weeks after.
From that seed grew Space Exchange, a free weekly concert series that takes place Tuesdays at Thunderbird Café. The musicians take turns booking bands each week, giving them an opportunity to introduce any of their blossoming projects to the public. Since January, the series has garnered a steady audience on what's generally an off night for live entertainment.
"It serves as a really good platform," says bassist Booth. "You're able to develop new projects." His band City Dwelling Nature Seekers performed music by The Band in a tribute to the late Levon Helm at April 24's Space Exchange.
Sharing the responsibility of booking has enabled the team to bring out acts that are "very diverse but of high quality," from jazz to country, according to guitarist Harper, who has played with Rusted Root among others. While the event allows each musician to experiment with his individual projects, Harper says that for Space Exchange they want to deviate from a jam-session vibe.
"What we've focused on is programming nights of music that are much more organized ... and we think that maintains a high level of performance and interest for people listening," Harper says. "We're invested in putting together the best music we can for more of a concert setting."