by Bao Le-Huu
North Avenue Studios' David Plakon welcomes visitors to Off the Avenue Live (photo by Ashley Belanger)
Out there in the Orlando exurb of Orange City, just past Blue Springs, some defining, culture-moving work is happening. Between its Off the Avenue video series (featured on both Orlando Weekly and Consequence of Sound) and its solid production work, North Avenue Studios is already one of the area’s top indie names. But new stirrings over at the Orange City music factory are signaling next-level developments.
The first is Eye Four Records, a new label venture by studio co-owner David Plakon and Ian Maikisch that’s just about to launch. The other is the recent premiere of Off the Avenue Live (Oct. 25), the concert series North Avenue Studios has had in the works for a while now. Before, the work the studio has done existed either in a cloistered creative lab or worldwide but virtual. Now, with OTAL, there is a public, real-time extension of that magic.
Off the Avenue Live (photo by Ashley Belanger)
Unlike the studio sessions, these performances are in a live stage setting that’s open to all. The studio’s lot has been transformed into a nice mini festival ground with a permanent stage and, of course, pro sound. Although outdoors, the setting is cozy and close enough to have a meaningful and engaging live experience.
The Groove Orient at Off the Avenue Live (photo by Ashley Belanger)
The inaugural concert featured music by local legacy-band-in-the-making Thomas Wynn & the Believers, the Groove Orient and Hannah Harber. I’m definitely a fan of the Believers but, due to the constant chase of the now and the next, it’s been some years since I’ve caught up with these local stalwarts. This occasion was as ideal and moving of a situation for falling back into their deep Southern waters, and it’s reawakening to find that even deeper, harder currents lie there now. After seeing them again, the wait for the album they just finished recording at this very studio takes on new thirst.
Thomas Wynn & the Believers (photo by Ashley Belanger)
Off the Avenue Live has all the ingredients to become a really great tradition. This debut featured good local music, local BBQ (Free Wil BBQ) and beer from a DeLand brewery (Persimmon Hollow) that just opened two weeks ago. Throw in that warm DeLand vibe and it’s hard to ask more of a night, especially for five negligible dollars. Plakon tells me that they’re looking to do this quarterly for right now so start following North Avenue Studios now.
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