Critic’s Choice Venue Blues: Jaco Fitzpatrick, Crossroads
Jaco Fitzpatrick, Crossroads
Edited by Kalanite Bluestar and Eleanor Medier
Not only does Crossroads house a popular Blues performance and dancing porch, but a Blues Museum that is a must-visit for anyone in Second Life® that is interested in learning more about music. The “Crossroads Mythology” note card gives an overview of development. Additionally, the sim seamlessly incorporates a motorcycle track, art museum, Hobo Hill, and one of the best beaches for dancing. There are a million places to lounge and listen, as well as a large, comfortable dance floor.
The Crossroads Blues Museum was started by Chriscloud Loon in 2007 in a separate building. After he dropped active involvement, it moved to the basement of the Blues club, so that it could be easier to find by club patrons. I organized it by style of Blues and geographic location of the musicians, with rooms and walls separating them.
This is the original and only Blues museum in SL, as far as I know. We like to say that at the Crossroads, our Blues run so deep that there are roots in the basement! Crossroads not only plays the best Blues in SL, we provide a learning experience for those who want to know the history.
I have always had an interest in architecture and public space design, so the sim has been an experiment in creating environments for people to hang out. Originally the sim and club were built by Anodyne Darkes, the first owner. Since I bought the club from her 3 years ago, everything, other than sections of the road, have been replaced. Pet Freenote built most of the current buildings, heavily modified by me over time to suit ongoing needs. Much of the landscaping detail is by Nua Moonwing.
The sim also has two other venues, the Aweful Epicurean Cafe & Gallery, and the Gonzo Lounge. These are concepts in development, but I don’t have the time to run them as on-going concerns. I used the book, A Pattern Language, as a technical guide for building the public space environments. With basic building skills, I can evolve due to a good eye for detail and my visualization skills. The Crossroads is the premier Blues club in SL, taking care not only for the music, but for the overall build, the selection of dances, seating, landscaping, and other details.
Yet, different skills are needed to run the club than to build the sim. The first challenge is to find talented DJs, devoted to playing the Blues. Many are essentially rock DJs who want to work in a popular club, but who’s knowledge and of the Blues is limited. I strive to make this a real Blues club, not using “Blues” as a marketing slogan, like many other clubs in SL.
In general, I do not scout out DJs, though I do follow up on recommendations from patrons. Mostly DJs come to me because this is the top of the SL Blues world. Once appropriate DJs are found, they must fit in with the available times. Though SL runs 24/7, I don’t attempt to keep a round-the-clock roster going. It is too much to manage. I run the club and sim by myself, without any help, so I can only put so much time into the place. We manage to be near the top of traffic for real Blues clubs, while only running half the schedule that most do. I attribute this to quality rather than quantity of DJs, and to having our own radio stream of deep Blues music when no DJs play.
My real life background is in systems analysis. My main skill here in SL is in systems design and visualization, if you think about a sim and club as a kind of system. I have always been a lover of music and made mix tapes for years, so being a DJ and club owner is an extension of that, with real time feedback on how people react.
I first came to the Crossroads in late 2007 to ride my new motorcycle, became a DJ here in January of 2008, and DJ manager a couple of months later. When I started, there were only three other DJs, including the owner, with only a few events a week. So I started filling out the schedule until we have over two dozen DJs. I bought the club and sim in 2010. I still keep my original Tuesday evening 5pm set that I started with, the longest job I’ve ever had, RL or SL!
Part of the idea of the club is to cater to all types of people who enjoy blues music and like to ride motorcycles. We have a safe, non-sexual environment where single women can feel free to just hang out without being preyed upon constantly. Couples can come enjoy a romantic evening dancing or cuddling in one of the many semi-private areas around the sim. There are also a number of vendors for clothing, accessories, bikes and other items around the sim, but I have made an effort to keep these at a distance from the main entertainment area. Many clubs are little more than dance floors in the middle of a mall, but I have tried to keep the more commercial aspects out of sight from the dance areas.
Many clubs are also glossy and hyperactive with hosts constantly filling the air with gestures and false cheerfulness, and that is completely alien to the concept here at the Crossroads. We have a run down home look with a laid back, relaxed environment, and don’t even officially employ hosts. We’re the mellow alternative to the many over hyped clubs, and I think this is a big part of our success.
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© 2014 by Eleanor Medier, Sim Street Journal. Articles cannot be reprinted without permission.