Teri Dosher and her daughter, Zoe, at The Willow Tree Coffee House & Music Room.
I have been involved with booking festivals and concerts for much of the last decade. One thing I have learned is that the music business can be amazingly fickle and money can be made – and lost – very quickly. That latter reality has had me working on a volunteer basis in all of my endeavors – sure, I don’t make any money, but I am able to feed my musical addiction and, at the same time, don’t risk losing money, either.
Teri Dosher, proprietor of The Willow Tree in Johnson City, Tenn., shares my passion for live music. But, I admit, she is much braver than I. Teri was willing to mate her money with her vision and open a music room of her very own.
Last week, The Willow Tree wrapped up a month long celebration of its first year in business. Teri and her crew brought some great bands to town for the festivities, including Sam Quinn & Taiwan Twin, Yarn, Possum Jenkins, Big Daddy Love, and Sam Lewis, who was featured in this blog last month.
Other great bands that played The Willow Tree in its first year were Dangermuffin, Sol Driven Train, Ian Thomas & The Band of Drifters, Valley Young, The Howling Brothers, Woody Pines, Zach Deputy, among many others.
Considering the plethora of talent that has already graced The Willow Tree’s stage, it is not a stretch to say that the room will soon be a serious player in the regional music scene. Fans – and bands – take notice when word begins to spread about a killer place to see live music. It’s my guess that Teri and The Willow Tree will not be lacking in crowds for some time.
I recently caught up with Teri to chat about The Willow Tree turning one.
BRO – What led you to open a music venue?
TD – My passion for music and the appreciation I have for the people who make it. Music moves my soul every day. I wanted to have a place where those I love to listen to so much could come play and I could introduce them to other music lovers.
BRO – Describe what you were feeling the night you opened the doors for the first show.
TD – The same thing I have felt this whole past year. It’s very surreal, and I’m not really sure how I got here. But it’s always an overwhelming feeling of gratitude.
BRO – Knowing what you know now, do you have one piece of advice you would offer aspiring music venue owners?
TD – Not really. Chris Phelps, my friend who runs my other favorite music venue in Lexington, N.C., called High Rock Outfitters, had me read a book called A Rock And A Hard Place. It was written by the guy who opened The Handlebar in Greenville, S.C. It was his perspective on how hard it can be. That helped me see that everyone who is involved in music isn’t in it for the love of music. I think that it’s important to love it and appreciate those who make it. I think that’s been what has made us successful thus far. It also makes it all worth it when you aren’t making any money, which is all the time. My payment comes from the music and from making people happy.
BRO – Cast any and all budgetary worries aside and book your dream show. Who would it be?
TD – I have a vision board of all those bands I hope will play for us one day. Many have come true already. Sam Quinn played this week and sold out. Yarn and Big Daddy Love was our double header grand opening show and it also sold out. Having Elephant Revival was a huge show for us and a dream come true. Other dream shows are Gregory Alan Isakov, Joe Purdy, and The Black Lillies.
For more information on The Willow Tree, including hours, location, and event calendar, surf over to their website. Already, there are some great shows on the horizon. Emi Sunshine will be there this Saturday, while Jalopy Junction and Megan Jean & The KFB hit the stage next weekend.
If you feel like checking out a show at The Willow Tree, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with THE WILLOW TREE in the subject line. Teri has offered up a couple tickets and a couple drinks – caffeinated or fermented, your call!! – to the show of your choice. A winner of this special offer will be chosen from all emails received by noon on Friday, February 6th.