Gannon creates Soulful Space

Matt Wickstrom

For most people, 5 p.m. marks the end of a long, strenuous work day. For Shawn Gannon the day is just getting started.

The jack-of-all-trades Gannon begins his days at Bluegrass Community and Technical College where he teaches welding and technology courses and ends with curating musical events and ensuring the artists involved feel right at home during their time on the road.

Gannon along with Jay Hawkins pour much of their free time into Soulful Space, a gothic-inspired church built in the 1920s. The two have been holding shows at the picturesque church since 2014, holding five or six shows per year.

“(Soulful Space) is an alternative venue in the sense that we’re not asking for anyone to play for the church, it’s completely secular, sing what song you want,” Gannon said. “Language is not a barrier, if it’s in the song it’s in the song. We’re not asking for anything gratuitous, but if it’s part of the music you sing then it’s part of the music you sing and we want to be open to everybody.”

The final installment of Soulful Space’s 2016 series will feature Portland-based indie rockers Horse Feathers on Oct. 20. According to Gannon Horse Feathers is the biggest band in terms of following that will have played to this date in the building.

“This is the first time we’ll be dealing with guys who are legitimate rock stars coming through, so we’re learning that there’s a lot more that goes into organizing a show for them,” Gannon said. “Some of the people who play locally and know us well understand the quirky nature of the church and that it’s just me and Jay carrying most of the work load so they work around that. People coming in from Portland like Horse Feathers have a certain expectation and we’re making it work.”

Aside from his involvement curating music for Soulful Space, Gannon is also Vice President of the Board of Directors for The Lexington Area Music Alliance, a local nonprofit that seeks to provide the most hospitable experience for visiting musicians as possible. Founded in 2010, the group helps to provide artists with any accommodations they may need, including dentists, urgent care, and laundry services.

“The goal of (LAMA) is to encourage big touring bands to come through Lexington not just because somebody has booked them but because they want to,” Gannon said.

Gannon and Soulful Space have teamed up with West Sixth Brewing for an Oktoberfest extravaganza on Oct. 1 at Coolavin Park that will feature musical performances from the Debraun Thomas Trio, Blind Corn Liquor Pickers, Daisy Helmuth, The Rooster’s Crow and Small Batch.

Other activities include pumpkin carving, bouncy houses, food trucks and a tented beer garden. Six percent of the day’s proceeds will go toward benefiting Foodchain, a startup nonprofit that currently operates the only indoor Aquaponics Farm in Lexington.