CEDAR RAPIDS — Inspired by the intimate music halls where he performed and worked in Chicago, singer-songwriter Dick Prall has created a new Cedar Rapids performance venue.
The Shake Room, located in a former northeastside trophy shop, hosted its first live music performance on April 5.
“I call it a big experiment,” Prall said. “People in the community who love music have been without a venue like this. It’s an intimate thing. You can see bands here that you might see play a larger venue like the Paramount in a couple of years.”
Prall, who grew up in Sheffield in north-central Iowa, spent 18 years in the Chicago music industry before returning to his home state in 2014.
“The biggest catalyst (for the Shake Room) was knowing my own story,” he said. “I had to leave Iowa to pursue music because there was no developmental outlet. Hopefully, having a place like this will keep more people around and inspire them to perform, write music and network with the performers who come through here.”
In July 2016, he purchased the former Mahoney’s Irish Pub, a College District fixture since the early 1990s, and leased the adjacent space, which had been the longtime home of the House of Trophies. In August of that year, he reopened the newly renovated bar as Dick’s Tap.
The Shake Room, next door, took longer to come together, requiring installation of a sprinkler system and other building improvements. Prall exposed the wooden rafters, which served as natural sound baffling, and installed a stage and sound system.
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“I wanted to provide a space that sounds incredible,” he said. “The feedback alone from the musicians has been it’s one of the best rooms they’ve played.”
The space has a capacity of 110 standing and 50 seated. A door connects the Shake Room to the bar, so patrons can go next door to order drinks and talk.
“People don’t need to shout over the music to have a conversation or try to hear the music over the noise of the crowd,” Prall said. “The people have been awesome. We’re bringing in music listeners who aren’t treating the music as background noise.”
For now, Prall is booking all the performers himself, with plans to host up to four shows a week. He said his focus is on original music, including local, regional and national artists.
In addition to live music, Prall plans to use the space for community events such as political discussions, book tours, art shows, poetry readings and other events. The venue also may be booked for private parties.
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At a Glance
l Owner: Dick Prall
l Business: The Shake Room
l Address: 1600-1602 E Avenue NE, Cedar Rapids
l Phone: (319) 364-5754
l Email: email@example.com
l Website: www.dickstapandshake.com