There are a few things that differentiate the nondescript brick building that houses Douglass Street Music Collective from its industrial neighbors in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn. Freshly planted flowers by the door, a two-tone sign reading Gowanus Arts and, a few times a week, a crowd spilling onto the otherwise abandoned street or improvised music emanating from the open door.
In its two months of existence, Douglass Street has filled a niche that many didn't even recognize. The much-publicized Brooklyn renaissance created spaces for musicians to perform--Barb?s, Tea Lounge, Zebulon--but also recreated situations that have perennially plagued creative musicians. Performance spaces and clubs are booked in advance and you have to always think ahead. And they always expect
something, remarked pianist, composer and
collective member Frank Carlberg. I mean, I'm not blaming them, they're just trying to run a
business...many times, some kind of a compromised business, but they want to make sure that things are viable enough for them, which puts them in a kind of defensive posture. That, coupled with the closure of creative havens like Tonic and CBGB's in the past few years, gave rise to the need for a musician-run space. Douglass Street gives you the opportunity to present something in an environment where you don't have to answer to anybody. You don't have to convince
anyone, except for the audience, of course.