The Leonard Nimoy Center


Kennedy Booker

The Leonard Nimoy Center.

Kennedy Booker, Writer

Sadly enough, the amount of all-ages venues in Northern Alabama has been limited throughout the years. Due to the small amount of affordable venues to rent, people began booking house shows.

BJ Wilbanks, former owner of Blurry Vision, began booking shows at his own home in order to keep the music scene alive after his record store/music venue was forced to close. “When Blurry Vision shut down at the end of January, I still had shows booked through February. I didn’t want to cancel them, so I planned on moving them to my house and being done with it for a while. I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t be done. So I said that I was only going to have shows on the occasion that any of my friends in bands from other places came through. But I was still getting 3 or 4 emails or Facebook messages a day from great bands I had never seen or even heard of. I didn’t want to turn them away just because I didn’t know them so I continued doing shows on a regular basis at my house. My fiancé, Clare, isn’t super thrilled about how often shows happen here because we plan on making this our home and living and raising a family here and more shows mean more wear and tear on the house. But she understands that this is what I love doing and that most of the people in this music scene are like a second family to me, so she’s still pretty supportive.”

Booking and organizing shows can be stressful and financially risky. No event is truly guaranteed to have a crowd.

Wilbanks explains, “The reason I started booking shows, and the reason I didn’t give up even after my venue closed down is because I believe in this. There’s no money in DIY, no, but the feeling I still get every time I book a show and every time someone keeps coming back after their first show because they love it too, that feeling is the greatest feeling in the world.”

He books shows in his big yellow house in Decatur under the name, The Leonard Nimoy Center. Different genres of bands are booked each time, so there’s something for everyone.

“I will book literally anything if I like it. Indie, metal, punk, hip-hop, hardcore, literally anything. I usually like to keep the price at $5, so that it’s affordable and it’s enough to pay the venue and to pay the touring band at least a little gas money. Sometimes, if it’s a bigger touring band, the price gets a little higher to meet their guarantee but I’ve never charged more than $10, and I’m not strict on the money part. I mean, if you have the money, pay it, but if you could only scrounge up a dollar in pennies, that’s fine too! Having people there is more important than making money,” he said.

He encourages everyone to come to the venue and experience the local scene, “I want to have good bands come through here. I want to see new people at shows. I don’t think a lot of people understand that a music scene is and always should be a safe and accepting place to everyone. Whether someone is straight, gay, male, female, transgender, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, whatever, as long as you’re not a bad person, the music scene is overall a good place.

Visit here for more info on the venue.