The Neon Parrot Lounge is determined to revive the live music scene in downtown Abilene and provide a platform for blossoming local artists.
The Neon Parrot Lounge purposely evokes memories of an old-time jazz club or speakeasy. The live music venue is located on Pine Street in the Majestic building, one of the oldest buildings in historic downtown Abilene. The owner, Andrea “Babs” Robinson, moved from Austin to open a venue specifically for live music in the tight-knit downtown Abilene community.
“There are a lot of places in Abilene that have live music, but they are not live music venues,” Robinson said. “We are trying to create a space for people who aren’t going out to drink and want music in the background but are going out to listen to music because they love music.”
The lounge emphasizes sound quality and acoustics, despite the cavernous and acoustic-infringing aspects of the historic Majestic building. The owners hired a sound technician as well to ensure high-quality sound.
“We want musicians to know they aren’t background music, but they are the focus,” Robinson said. “We are people that love music.”
The Majestic, the first moving pictures venue in Abilene, was functioning as a rental event and meeting center when the Neon Parrot Lounge purchased it. It continued to function as a rental venue over the past year, but starting in June, the Majestic will transition full-time into Neon Parrot Lounge.
The transition will enable the lounge to host live music events Thursday through Saturday nights. Currently, the lounge only puts on Thursday Night Live, a live music event featuring local and traveling musicians. Some of the recent Thursday night performances featured the Rocketboys, Abilene Jazz Collective, Tripp Mathis, Happy Fat and Our Version. The Cabin, featuring Jake Rosser & Band, Jake Hall and Anthony & Jamie played Thursday night.
“Our passion is really just music, having a platform for music and making that the focus for people,” Robinson said.
The lounge’s mission to put musicians and their music first has been well-received. Several older and former musicians have reappeared and immersed themselves in the blossoming Abilene music scene, Robinson said.
“The buzz has been getting around that this is a place where we take care of musicians and a place where we care about the music,” she said. “It’s getting to where, instead of us seeking out people to play, they’re coming to us and saying they’d like to play here.”
The buzz is also spreading to college students.
“I looked online when I came to ACU and couldn’t find many live music venues,” said Chantal Kinsey, freshman biology and global studies major from Allen. “I just recently discovered the Neon Parrot and went to the Tripp Mathis show. It was a great experience, one I didn’t expect to find in Abilene.”
The lounge hopes to take advantage of Abilene’s location on the I-20 corridor and attract musicians traveling between Texas and the western states.
The Neon Parrot doesn’t want to only support the local music scene, though. They aim to become a hub for culture in downtown Abilene.
“Music will always be our main goal,” Robinson said. “But I can see us doing a movie night for super, super cheap. And have an Alamo-Draft-House-style old-school movie that everyone knows and do quote-alongs or sing-alongs.”
The long-term goals for the Neon Parrot look to fulfill Robinson’s aim to become a downtown culture hub. One of the future plans involves local artists. The lounge would like to host rotating exhibits displaying the work of local artists and highlighting Abilene’s rich culture.
The lounge is not only increasing the variety of events, but they are also designing new architectural additions for the interior. The new furniture and architectural additions, like an elevated stage, aim to enhance the intimacy of the environment and quality of the Neon Parrot experience.
“It will have a lot of really neat architectural elements that will be practical but will speak to an older time,” Robinson said.
Although the lounge doesn’t serve their own drinks or food, the venue is also home to Public Haus, which is part of the Good-Haus family and includes Abi-Haus, a popular Abilene eatery. Public Haus supplies Neon Parrot guests with an assorted selection of beverages. Soon, the Neon Parrot plans to bring a smattering of the exploding Abilene food truck scene to its events.
“We don’t sell our own alcohol, we truly are a music-only venue,” she said. “Everything we pay the musicians out of, comes out of the cover charge. It’s about making a statement that, ‘I want to spend my time supporting live music.'”
Cover charges vary per show, but college students get a $2 discount with a student ID. The Thursday-through-Saturday-night live music schedule will begin in June.
Read more at http://majesticabilene.com/neon-parrot-lounge/, or follow them on Instagram at: neonparrotlounge.