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The Frequency

in Madison, WI
by Mike Huberty - May 2008

Photo Caption: Darwin Sampson playing bass with the Skintones in 2003 - photo by Dustin J. Williston

Darwin Sampson playing bass with the Skintones in 2003  - photo by Dustin J. Williston

Darwin Sampson has been a fixture in Madison music through bands during much of the Nineties and aught in bands like Uncle Eddie, The Skintones, and Helliphant. He used to book The Anchor Inn, but his most recent stint was booking The Annex. Now he’s set to open his own place. We talked with him for a few minutes about the new club.

Q: What’s the name of the new club? What’s the inspiration behind the name?

The new club will be called The Frequency. The inspiration? Mostly sound and music with an affinity for geekiness mixed with multiple marketability factors. I was laying around just meditating on it and the name kinda just popped into my head. I didn’t instantly gag at the thought and passed the name by some folks. I received only one negative comment, which came from a generally contrarian human so I took the gripe with a grain of salt and ran with it.

Q: I heard the location is going to be where the Slipper used to be. Why did you pick that location?

A: Availability, location and market climate. I had fun every time I played there. Plus, it has enormous potential.

Q: Have you done any remodeling to the place?

A: We are working feverishly to make the club look and sound like a million bucks.

Q: They still have the video cameras pumping the show to the front bar?

A: I don’t have that planned as of yet, but thanks for the suggestion. It’s a great idea!

Q: When is the club going to open? Any details about the first show?

A: We plan to have a weekend of “private” shows May 30th and 31st to get feedback and general critiques of the place. I haven’t booked a single act yet, but plan to have that finished ASAP.

Q: What kind of bands are you hoping to bring to The Frequency?

A: Bands that love what they do, and are good at what they do. I appreciate many kinds of music and look forward to The Frequency being a place where hard working local, regional, national and international acts can call home in Madison, WI.

Q: Are you planning any theme nights, open jams, pool league, etc…?

A: We don’t have anything specifically set in stone, but diversity will be key. Theme nights, dart leagues, pool leagues, all are within the realm of possibility.

Q: Booze and food or just drinks?

A: Drinks with some snacks such as hot pretzels, frozen pizza, chips, etc. Good local brews, standard favs, you name it. I have an excellent bar management staff that has their finger on the pulse of what people are digging.

Q: What made you want to open your own place?

A: Since I’ve been a musician, I’ve always wanted to own and run a venue. Pretty cheesy, huh? I have always felt like I owe a severe debt of gratitude to music and the things I’ve learned through it over the years. Giving people a place where they can develop their thing is important to any community that supports live music, I believe. Music has taken so many hits, especially in our educational system. I’d prefer not to stand by while an art form slowly dies.

Q: Any trouble getting the liquor license? It seems like the ALRC didn’t like the idea of more Madison bars (even the ones that had music) just a couple of years ago. How was your experience?

A: *cue Twilight Zone theme*

I have had an incredible learning experience going through this process. It was much different than I expected it to be. It was not easy by any stretch; however I was blessed to be surrounded by a ton of knowledgeable and experienced people that helped me through the process to this point. It’s been the sort of thing where you hear things both positive and negative about people you’re going to do business with, and they completely turn your preconceptions around instantly. Alderman Mike Verveer in particular was extremely helpful and informative. I can’t thank him enough, and I can say the same of everyone I’ve met thus far.

Q: What excites you most about opening the club?

A: Everything. Some of what excites me the most is being able to put into practice the things I’ve gleaned from some really talented business owners in my industry. Chris Langkamp, Cathy Dethmers, people that truly love what they do and pour their heart and soul into their craft. I’m lucky to be surrounded by people that love live music and have years of experience, which will help make The Frequency a consistent venue for years to come.

Q: What are your hopes for the place in the next year?

A: To develop our niche, and deliver some great music and tasty drinks!

The Frequency
121 W. Main Street
Madison, WI 53703 (608) 819-877

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