Featured Venue
July

The   Woolshed

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Talking to

MichaelJ Rossini

owner   Spiker  Upshaw

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We love the Woolshed.  It has a wonderful authentic "Aussie ambience" and was one of the very first members of our Favourite Venues page, so to do a feature on this terrific venue and its personable owner Spiker Upshaw was a complete no brainer !  Spike kindly took some time out of his latest building project to share some of his thoughts and experiences with our readers ....

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Michael:     Hi Spike  - thank you so much for taking time out to do this interview with Toggle For Music. 

First up  - Could you tell me something about your background and how you got involved in the crazy world of Second Life in the first place? 

Spike:      Hey Michael, Well I happen to be watching a current affairs show here called 60 Minutes and they were doing a feature on this latest craze,, Virtual Worlds. Who would have believed it! SL was a big  part of their feature and as I watched it I got to thinking it may be worthwhile checking out. It took a couple weeks when I remembered the feature and decided to have a look and 15 years later,, never left,,lol.

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Michael:      In your early SL days did you plan - or even envisage - owning a successful music venue ?

Spike:     Actually,, after only a couple months I knew I wanted to start and own a Jazz & Blues club. So a friend at the time, who was also an RL designer, built a club,, which I have on the land here on the sim, called Ocean Dreams Jazz & Blues. I had a very close friend that was co-owner of the first club and she was a big part of my getting into the whole club scene. We use it now for our Blues events we have on the occasional Sunday am. I ran that club for about 8-1/2 years before I felt I needed a break so closed it. Then Came the Aussie Rock or Bust club which lasted a few years,, and now,, The WoolShed,, which will be 3 years this month!! The one thing I tell everyone,, is when you own a club here,, you do it for the love of the music!

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Michael:       So how did it happen? Were there high points and low points along the way ?

Spike:     Highs & lows,,, over 15 years I have lost count, LOL! It was heart breaking to close my first club but I was losing my mojo for the club. Trying to think of things to do,, events,, how to attract people into the club,, trying to get the numbers up with land traffic count,, it could be stressful at times and I was close to burn out. The thing though,, is this,, club owning,, is in my blood,, or I am just plain crazy!! 

Michael:       So here you are now - so tell me all about Woolshed please.

Spike:     The WoolShed is unique. I was between clubs. I had closed the Rock or Bust club and feeling a at a bit of a lose end. I have a very close friend who also owned a club with live music for many years called Kameleonz. We got to talking about clubs, and it was her suggestion that I build a uniquely aussie club, and suggested a woolshed. So, that was the birth of this new club, The WoolShed. At first I tried a mix of DJing, which I have done for many years, and live music until we progressed to just live music a couple days a week. We also have the occasional event featuring Thunder Rock who are a tribute band. With that,, I haven't looked back. Its been a great journey so far, and I am sure there will be some great times moving forward. 

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Michael:      You know the Second Life live music industry inside out by now.  Do you feel it is in a healthy state at this moment in time ?  If you could do one thing to improve it - what would it be?

Spike:     Honestly, compared to how it was nearly 15 years ago and currently, is really different times. I used to have some live singers at my first club and they were mostly aussies. Well alot of the aussies that were around are gone, but now we have alot of very talented singers from the Asian countries. Times have really changed, but there is still some awesome talent around. So yeah, I think the live music in SL is healthy. Improve it? I do miss some of the amazing singers we had and would love to see some back, but I don't think I see anything I would improve.

Michael:       Conversely what would you say irks you the most ?  (aside from annoying interviewers)  

Spike:     LOL. What irks me most is that some folk think that they can wander into a club and just make a nuisance of themselves. Spoiling things for the folk that just want to chill, listen to some great music and have a good time. Over the years my tolerance has reduced with no time for people who want to be asshats. If they don't respond after one warning in IM, my eject finger is at the ready!! LOL

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Michael:       So - when you aren't running your amazing venue - are there other activities in Second Life that you enjoy ?

Spike:     I love to build. Test out my creative side which at times is very hard to find! Although I did build my last 2 clubs and I must say am very happy with the way The WoolShed turned out. I have picked up the 1/4 sim ajoining the club sim and am currently working on that. I am considering building a bike track and a bike drag track both things which I enjoy very much. I also enjoy exploring SL. There seems to always be new things to see and do. 

Michael:      Clearly you know all about how to run a successful venue - are there any tips you can pass on to anyone considering going down the road of starting up a live music venue in Second Life today?

Spike:     Firstly, don't over think it,, keep it fairly simple, secondly, running a club does not make you rich! So if you are in it for the money, forget it!! You will only be dissappointed, so you have to do it for the love of it. Expect to work hard, at keeping it running, and depending on what you want out of the club will have an impact on how much you need to do. Getting people into the club can be hard work and has its ups and downs. When I was DJing I have played to empty clubs,,lol. Go into it with an open mind and not too much expectations. You have to enjoy it. Afterall, this is SL and we are here to have a break from that place known as RL and enjoy ourselves.

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Michael:        Finally, the future ... Are there any plans or new projects that you would like to share with our readers - or are you content with what you have created now and enjoying the ride ?

Spike:     I am always thinking of what else I can do with the club and sim. Also as I mentioned earlier I am developing the 1/4 sim next to The WoolShed, so watch this space!! LOL


Thank you Michael and TFM for this opportunity!

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Thank You Spike !!!

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