Wynnefield: The PSALM Salon Offers Community an Intimate Musical Experience
At 5841 Overbrook Ave. in Wynnefield you arrive at the home of Jamey Reilly. From the outside, besides a neon light in a second-floor window, there is little that looks particularly special. The experience begins upon entering.
You walk right into the living room, which also just happens to be a 60-seat listening room with a state-of-the-art recording and lighting equipment. More traditional décor includes a pot with a Chinese inscription and other Asian-inspired art as well as various small sculptures.
Reilly started the PSALM Salon in 2003 as a not-for-profit arts and culture organization and it has grown and gained popularity ever since.
“Because I was the chairman of the society we decided that I would be the one who held most of the performances which was fine with me,” said Reilly. “Little by little we started charting the space into a performance theater and its been evolving ever since.”
The PSALM Salon does not get much funding and Reilly absorbs most of the expenses out of his own pocket. Because the PSALM Salon is a nonprofit it is allowed to take donations, but as far as other funding Reilly explained that in the current economic climate nonprofit funding is almost non-existent.
The salon only invites the very best to perform and allows music from all genres and styles. The locale is booked about a year in advance with top touring artists who love playing at the venue.
“We have some of the best artist imaginable,” said Reilly.
The salon also does not advertise. People only find out about it through word of mouth, the mailing list or they can sign up through the website at http://www.psalmsalon.com/
“We do not advertise, people come here once and they invite their friends and they invite their friends,” said Reilly.
The intimate setting goes far beyond just the 60-seat acoustically pristine space. For $8 Reilly’s wife and chef Suyun prepares authentic Cantonese home-style meat or vegetarian Chinese dinner.
“[My wife] cooks a wonderful Chinese dinners for each and every show and I’ve heard people say that they come for the food and stay for the music,” said Reilly
During the intermission of shows where audience members get the opportunity to chat and interact with the artists and others in attendance over refreshments served by the Reillys and a glass of wine if you chose to bring your own.
“The nice thing is you get to interact with the artists during the intermission, they hang out in the kitchen they talk to everybody, you don’t get that at any other venue,” said Greg Gaughan, who is a volunteer and valued figure at the salon and helps Reilly in many ways.
Gaughan’s other lengthy contributions to the salon include working the door, handling tickets, doing the live video feed for the Internet broadcast, setting up the lights and assembling up other equipment on stage if they are running late.
Gaughan’s most creative contribution is reading a behind-the-scenes introduction online that gets broadcasted live before the artists are introduced on stage. He meticulously prepares the day before the show by gong on the artists website and prepares a short story or poem out of the artists song titles.
Intermission also brings the opportunities to purchase the artists CDs, handmade Chinese artisan wear, jewelry and other items for sale imported from China by Reilly’s wife. In addition, she is a master knitter and offers custom made hats, scarves, shawls and sweaters at bargain prices.
Besides an intimate setting rivaled by no other music venue it is Reilly’s nearly half of century experience as a musician, professional engineer, record producer and venue manager that makes the locale a top notch establishment to see live music.
“It’s a small room it only hold 60 people, but we put in a level of attention designing the acoustics and the sound system that you might find only in a venue many many times the size,” said Reilly. “People say that our sound is the best sound of any venue in the tri-state area and that is something that we work hard to try to maintain.”
More than just Reilly’s knowledge and love of music his hospitality is just another aspect that adds to the PSALM Salon experience.
“I’m an old hippie and I love to invite people into my home.”