Last time I saw Aaron Bowen, in 2007, he didn’t seem particularly happy. Now, seated at my dining-room table with his wife Kate, the Sweetwater High alum is beaming.
“I was very depressed. My outlook — everything’s changed. We didn’t have a coffeehouse community. I started getting angrier about it. Then, in 2008, while touring, I saw amazing scenes in Oregon, San Francisco, and Brooklyn, where artists support each other. That’s not what I’d been seeing here. Instead of whining, which I’d been doing a lot, I decided to do something.
“I thought about what worked in those scenes and what wasn’t working here. I’d shared bills with people. When they weren’t onstage, they’d pull their audience outside to chat. Like, there’s only one ladder we’re all trying to climb. Well, guess what? The scene doesn’t go anywhere.”
Your last CD was called The Supreme Macaroni Co. Ltd. Do you love the stuff?
“I hate macaroni. The Macaroni Club was a group in the 1700s — flamboyant guys who entered parties and caused a ruckus. They were political in the community — rabble-rousers. ‘Yankee Doodle...put a feather in his cap and called it macaroni’ — that’s where that came from.
“Our first event was in May, 2010, at Lestat’s. Then the opportunity opened up at Monica’s. It’s a great room for it. It’s about arts-and-crafts, too — we have painters, photographers, soap-makers, jewelry-makers, knitters...”
Did you start with chosen artists or was it open?
“I invited people. I’d get email from others, ‘Hey, can I come down and play?’ I’d say, ‘Well, you can come to one first and support’ — like, this is community — get it? Would you show up if I asked you not to play one month? Or would you suddenly find something else to do? That’s community. Not, ‘Where’s my shot?’”
The Macaroni Club, with Aaron Bowen, Lorelai Musique, Jon Ji, and James Musselman, August 13, 7–11 p.m. at Monica’s at the Park in University Heights.