Music Events

ALL EARS: Forage Launches New, Multi-Faceted Concert Series

All Ears Listening Sessions premiere in downtown Eau Claire

McKenna Scherer |

LISTEN UP, FOLKS. Forage (403 S. Barstow St., Eau Claire) is bringing a brand new concert experience to the area, and a first-time event to its own space. (Photos via Forage's Facebook)
LISTEN UP, FOLKS. Forage (403 S. Barstow St., Eau Claire) is bringing a brand-new concert experience to the area, and a first-time event to its own space. (Photos via Forage's Facebook)

Forage, downtown Eau Claire’s shapeshifting venue, is known for hosting vendor markets, cooking classes and dinners, book clubs, and more. Beginning in late February comes another first: a live concert series.

All Ears Listening Sessions will offer a new kind of concert experience combining live music with audio and video recording, and a live interview portion in partnership with Converge Radio, all wrapped up in one to offer a truly music-centered experience.

Opening on Friday, Feb. 24, is Minneapolis-based Luke Callen and the Band with Milwaukee-based Long Mama, followed by four more concerts: Ironstill on March 24; Sprig of That on April 2; a local favorite, The Nunnery, on May 19; and Friend Dog on June 30. All shows will open doors at 7pm with showtime set for 8pm, tickets available for $20 in advance and $25 at the door.

The five-event series is something Lydia Park, Forage event manager, has only dreamt of happening in the space before finally taking the head-first leap to make it happen. For Park, a classically-trained musician, Forage offers a unique, special kind of space fit for this type of experience and event series.

“The acoustics, it’s almost like a church, sort of,” Park explained. “The reverberation … for those of us that play acoustic instruments, it’s something that is worth so much; it’s like gold.”

When Park first played her own cello in the space, she couldn’t shake the thought that Forage could really offer something special to not only an audience, but to musicians.

Though her own background is mostly in classical music and not so much in sound production, thanks to the help from so many other talented locals, she’s been able to figure out how to get things prepped for the first-time Forage series. “Classic DIY Eau Claire, you know?” she laughed.

In a community like the Chippewa Valley and particularly Eau Claire, where an appreciation for the arts and music is something widely shared, perhaps one niche hasn’t been entirely explored. Park described a feeling picking up in the area of folks thinking less venue-first – as in, not necessarily looking for a venue where they can eat, drink, and hangout with friends with a background live music – and more performance-first.

“I think that (this type of venue experience) s something that isn’t as rampant around this area,” Park explained. “Having the chance to just sit, be quiet, listen and receive, it’s really powerful. You’re here to really know who this person and what their music is, that they’re giving you this gift, and I think that’s what makes the interview aspect really cool, too.”

Along with the hour or so of musical performance at each event, a live interview will follow between Converge’s Jordan Duroe and the musicians. While Park hopes to eventually have a more Tiny Desk-style interview with musicians interviewing other musicians, Duroe has been a crucial aspect of getting All Ears Listening Sessions on its feet and setting the tone.

Series lineup.
Series lineup.

Interview topics will likely shift throughout the series, but Park said topics like how the musicians developed their sound, met the people playing with them (if they’re non-solo act), why they chose to perform what songs they did, etc.

While Forage is not a huge venue space, Park estimates maybe 100 people could fit, but the ideal number would be about 50. Forage envisions having a space where performers are at the center with seating around them .

“We’re not going to be dampening any of the outside sound, so you’ll be able to hear traffic go by or maybe the upstairs neighbors,” Park explained. “It’s just going to be super real.”

The series is something fellow musicians have told Park they’ve wished would pop up in the area for some time, and they hope it will become a longstanding component of the downtown venue.

Buy tickets in advance on or show up to buy them at the door, at 403 S. Barstow St., Eau Claire.