Slow Down Sunday, Central Venue

Central Venue Serving Up Local Food, Music This Sunday

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On Feb. 24, Central Venue will host its second Slow Down Sunday, a relaxing wrap-up to the weekend featuring an exhibit by photographer Charles Yesenczki and performances by three area songwriters.

Local legend J.D. Hutchison, sometimes referred to as “the last of the iron-ass folk singers,” will join Parkersburg’s Todd Burge, who will likely play a few tracks from his new album, Building Characters.

Burge has also created his own version of Love’s Labour’s Lost, a new spin on tried and true Shakespearean verse, so you might hear some of that too—if not, it’s definitely worth checking out.

Athens singer-songwriter Kelly Latimore, who released his album Trails last April, is set to kick things off with some textured acoustic tunes.

“Kelly played at our opening last year,” said Jake Householder, media director for Central Avenue Church. “He is a great friend and a good musician. We’re really excited to bring J.D. and Todd in, too. They are amazing songwriters with a great presence.”

Slow Down Sunday is also a potluck event, but Householder isn’t too concerned about remarkable culinary skills being brought to the table.

“You can bring a two-liter of Pepsi if you want; no one is going to judge you,” he said.

However, the event is in accordance with the 30-Mile Meal movement, so there will definitely be some local goodies and greens present (grown within a 30-mile radius).

Donations will also be taken in celebration of Solidarity Week, a seven-day period of cutting back on luxuries and using that saved money to contribute to eradication of extreme poverty.

“The whole purpose of Central Venue existing in this community is encapsulated in this event. We want this to be a space to foster relationships and community of Athens by and large through music, arts and education,” said Householder.

Since its renovation two years ago, Central Venue has become exactly that. The site, once an auto supply warehouse at 29 East Carpenter Street, now serves as a second location for the Central Avenue Church, as well as a community center for anyone who wants to use it.

And while Householder is used to booking musical acts (he’s a musician), he is always open to new ideas for use of the space.

“The Ohio University Jitterbug Club was in here last weekend and that was a blast. There was swing dancing and a live blues band playing till who knows when,” he said. “Right before Halloween, Honey for the Heart rented out the venue—they make these cool, larger-than-life puppets and show them off in parades. We’re just excited for what’s next.”

Besides Slow Down Sunday, Householder has some big things in the works. Nashville folk singer-songwriter Matthew Smith is scheduled to make an appearance sometime this spring, and Best Pets Dog Training has just started using Central Venue for classes.

But there’s one basic thing that’s still missing: a sign.

“I would love to get a sign up front so that people can actually find the place,” he said. “We’re working on that right now–we just got a permit from the city, and are working on sprucing up the front to make it more identifiable.”

As for actual use for the space, Householder says that’s up to the community. The staff at Central Venue doesn’t want to dictate what they think the town needs.

“We are a space for Athens. It will become collectively whatever [the community] wants it to be. And we are excited to see what that is.”