On Friday, July 22, singer Austin Bristor and the bands Sidekick, Rescue Dawn, and Pines performed at the Valley Cat venue located in the heart of downtown Winchester, Va. The show marks one of many happening Friday nights this summer. The venue, which has been open since January of this year, originally started off as a record label/studio before expanding into the venue and music spot it is today.
Christopher Kallick, Valley Cat owner and chief executive officer (CEO), mentioned the process as being “the evolution of the Cat,” having started as a record label two years ago, before progressing to live sessions via YouTube, and then eventually adding on Valley Cat venue.
Kallick got into the music industry at the early age of 16 with his recording rig that he built on his own, “very D.I.Y.” He started out just wanting a studio and label, but realized that having a venue would help expand by drawing interest to the label.
Currently, the label side of Valley Cat officially has three bands signed: Bishops, Morning Banana Diet, and Older Notes. However, various bands come to the venue to play, typically from nearby states such as Maryland and New Jersey, from genres such as alternative and pop punk. Different nights correspond with different genres. As the venue and label both grow bigger, there is the hope to expand on bands that come in and play shows, as well as those that are signed to the label.
As for how the venue contributes to the local area, Kallick mentions, “We provide this environment that people can come and enjoy. You can be 16 or you can be 60 and still fit in. Everywhere in Winchester you can hear acoustic, bluegrass, and metal… we bring everything else.”
“The bigger goal here is to become the hub for the Shenandoah Valley,” Kallick says. “We wanna be that spot where you’re coming from Interstate 81 or 66, where there’s D.C. and then there’s Winchester. Our goal is to put it [Valley Cat] on the map.”
Kallick advises that anyone dreaming of starting a venue, that they “treat the bands right. That’s something a lot of people miss out on. Treat them the way that they are, they’re family now, rather than reflecting on the risk and any expenses due to the show. At the end of the day, that band liking the show and liking the experience is going to come back and they’re going to tell all of their friends. It’s all about making good connections.”
He continues, “If you’re going to do a studio, YouTube. Get on YouTube. You can’t just do a studio anymore; you gotta do something on the internet too. Get a YouTube channel going, talk about what you do, talk about you as a person.” The important thing is to show what people are doing behind-the-scenes, in order to gain interest and likeability.
Valley Cat offers snacks, drinks, and merch for purchase to anyone coming to their shows. The cover charge is $10, but when you have the chance to see multiple bands, it is more than worth it.
For more information on Valley Cat, go to their official website and for updates on upcoming shows, check out their Facebook page. To hear more from Kallick about Valley Cat, check out the interview above, and also check out the interview below with one of the bands that performed on July 22, Rescue Dawn!