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Gathering Place

Owners have big plans
for their new venue

Red Bicycle Hall plans
grand opening Dec. 5 in Madison

(December 2014) – Stage lights, laughter and music have replaced what was once an empty and dark building at 125 E. Main St., in Madison, Ind. A group of like-minded individuals who wish to bring cultural events to the Madison area have come together to create a venue dedicated to the promotion of music and the arts. For the past year, the Red Bicycle Hall has on occasion seemed to burst at the seams as people flocked to see exciting musical acts and live theater. It is all a part of the plan of six owners who have set out to do their part to make Madison a hub of cultural events.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Watkins

The popular band SHEL
performs in November at the
Red Bicycle Hall, one of
Madison’s newest music venues.

The grand opening of the hall will be celebrated from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5. This provides people with an opportunity to stop in and see what all the fuss is about. Partners Kevin Watkins, Bill Lancton, Tony Novello, Buck Rogers, Charlie Rohlfing and Keith Acree will conduct a formal introduction to the community. After all, the building is available for much more than live music and theatrical productions, and the group is excited to let people know about it.
“Part of our plan is to be completely flexible,” says Watkins. The layout of the first floor has been kept open so that the configuration of the room can be changed to suit various needs. The stage size can be changed, an area for dancing can be left open, seats can be in rows or made more intimate for smaller shows. Table seating is available for receptions, private parties and meetings. Bar service is available and a serving kitchen makes catered events possible. In addition to all of this, the hall is the home to events that are produced by the Cultural Continuum of Madison, the Riverrun Theatre Co. and the RiverRoots Music and Folk Arts Festival “Music Series.”

Photo by Jenny Straub Youngblood

The Red Bicycle Hall has become a popular spot on Main Street.

The second floor is currently a beautiful open space that is available for events or conferences. Currently, the group is considering numerous options for the second floor.
Lancton, a member of the Indianapolis Jazz Hall of Fame and Madison resident, imagines the second floor as a dance or photography studio. He also thinks it would make a beautiful loft apartment.
Watkins agrees and says the space could make a lovely office for a corporation or a law firm. The third floor is set up in the same way as the second floor and is currently serving as storage for the building. This area is accessed by a freight elevator.
The building has certainly seen a lot of changes since its beginning in 1838 when it was a two-story saddlery. Photography studios, hardware stores and tinsmiths have all called the building home. Madison TV and Appliance once set up shop within the walls before it finally became an antique shop. The Red Bicycle Hall group had rented the building on numerous occasions for events until the building became available for purchase in July 2013. By October, the group was ready to hold its first event when it held the Brew, Brew, Brew and Brew, a craft beer tasting that took place during the Madison Chamber’s Soup, Stew, Chili, and Brew event.
However, before the doors could open for this signature event, there were many improvements and repairs that needed to be made. The electricity and plumbing were replaced. The heating had not been changed since around 1900, and 15-16 windows needed to be replaced. A lot of the work was done by the partners. “We all have our own niche,” adds Novello.
Novello, who has been exposed to a lot of music and booking agents through his involvement with RiverRoots, is responsible for signing many of the musical acts. He says that he is able to find a lot of musicians at the Folk Alliance in Kansas City. “Music is the love of my life,” he says. Novello says he hopes the Bicycle Hall, in conjunction with other local venues, will be able to increase the amount of cultural experiences available in the area.
The Red Bicycle Hall is home to the RiverRoots Music Series, which began last fall and runs through the winter and spring months, leading up to the festival in May. The December monthly concert is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 6, featuring The Tillers, with opening act The Williams Family Band. Tickets are $10 at the door and a cash bar is available.

• To view a schedule of upcoming events at The Red Bicycle Hall, visit: www.RedBicycleHall.com.

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