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The Project Lodge

in Madison, WI
by Mike Huberty - July 2008

Photo Caption: Project Lodge in Madison

Project Lodge in Madison

***Permanently Closed

Filling an important gap in Madison music venues, serving a crowd hungry for all-ages shows and concerts outside of bars, is The Project Lodge on 817 E. Johnson St. It was founded by recent Madison immigrants (via Portland, Oregon), Christopher Buckingham (a multi-instrumentalist that played music in Portland who also performs locally) and Kendra Larson. The Lodge opened in February and has been hosting at least one show a week since.

Buckingham explains the idea behind the founding, “In Portland we put on shows in our house, music shows and art shows, moved all the furniture into one room and put up artwork and let someone play for a night. I’ve been involved with art for awhile and wanted to get something going in Madison too that would involve the music and art scene.”

Most weekdays, The Project Lodge is more about art than music. Buckingham says, “We have artwork there and keep it open during the day for gallery hours. On Sundays, generally we’ll have a brunch, a potluck thing where people can bring food and we can talk about art.”

An upcoming artist they’re going to feature is Christopher Steuer from Portland. Also, they have had several Master’s students from the university showcasing their exhibitions. Coming up in the fall, there’s going to be a gallery from Chicago bringing up some artists for exhibitions and workshops as well.

When it comes to escaping the stigma that’s caused other all-ages venues in Madison to close down, Buckingham hopes to avoid that, “When it comes to running an all-ages venue, we’re in a neighborhood, so we’ve had earlier shows to make sure everyone’s been getting along. The people that go to the shows don’t have as much time to get drunk so they can really appreciate the music.”

About the difference between his hometown and his adopted city, Buckingham says, “A lot of the music is quite similar and we do get a lot of touring bands. Madison and Portland definitely have a lot of similarities in the things people are into and people have been really receptive to the all-ages club and the art-slash-music venue, so I’m glad we could fill that niche. There’s a good number of these in Portland, so that was my inspiration.”

When it comes to the future, Buckingham expands on his free-flowing vision, “So far, the art shows have been pretty short, like a week long, and I’d like to see them get longer so that reviewers can come and more people can appreciate them. I’d like to do more activities. It’s called The Project Lodge. I’d like it to be the place where people do stuff, whether that’s drawing parties or collaborative jam sessions. It’s a do-it-yourself kind of space.”

The Project Lodge has a small PA system for bands and is open to a variety of musical styles. Bands interested in hosting a show at the Lodge should contact Chris and Kendra from the Lodge website.

Project Lodge
817 E Johnson Street
Madison, WI 53703

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