The Warehouse gives intimate setting for artists and fans

Larry Deaton, 69, started the catering business of Mount Victor Warehouse with his wife for 11 years. They do catering for any event with a large gathering. For some people they are known for their concerts from different musicians and bands. “We both love music and follow it,” said Deaton. “It’s what we did in our vacations. We go places like New York or New Orleans and watch artists and follow them. A lot of people start here to grow and we always like to see them move up.”

Griffin Fletcher

If you haven’t heard about it already, maybe you’re just not looking hard enough.

Despite being an unlikely culprit, The Warehouse at Mt. Victor is becoming one of Bowling Green’s most popular locations for checking out both budding and seasoned musicians from Texas to Tennessee for cheap.

Larry Deaton, a 1971 WKU graduate, and his family opened The Warehouse officially in 2009. The Warehouse hosts concerts on an almost monthly basis.

Originally intended as a space for Larry’s wife, Michelle Deaton, to host events for her catering business, Larry decided to expand the warehouse’s horizons. A long-time music lover and concertgoer with a nearly unrivaled history—he attended Woodstock, a historic 1969 New York music festival, before graduating college—Larry said his family’s hearts have always been with music.

“We love music,” Larry said. “It’s our passion.”

However, from cleaning out and refurbishing the once-empty warehouse to learning the ropes of booking musicians who will sell tickets, not everything was easy, Larry said.

“It’s a learning process,” Larry said.

“There’s no school you go to to book bands.”

Though Larry said he originally stuck primarily to booking artists who played Americana music—a type of music he generally prefers—he adapted in an effort to appeal to more listeners in and around Bowling Green. He said The Warehouse now hosts artists primarily with country, southern-rock and folk roots, which provided necessary variety that kept people coming back.

“It’s business,” Larry said. “A super-fan would be out of business quick.”

Despite the relatively small size of The Warehouse when compared to other premiere venues for seeing big-name musicians, Larry said well-known musicians such as Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson, both of whom have performed at The Warehouse, praised the venue for its intimate setting. Larry said he believes this is possible due to the venue’s arrangement, with various seats and tables placed near the front of the stage.

“They like to have that intimacy,” Larry said about the closeness to the audience musicians are afforded at The Warehouse. “They like to see their faces.”

Larry added he believes many artists who have performed at The Warehouse keep coming back because of the way his family makes sure the musicians “feel like they’re at home” during cross-country traveling and sometimes months away from their own beds.

“They don’t remember me, but they remember the town, they remember the venue,” Larry said.

In part with attending to band members’ various needs before and after shows, Michelle’s catering business, Michelle Deaton Catering, is responsible for feeding the bands. Michelle said that part is easy.

“I just try to cook like I would for my family,” Michelle said.

Aside from The Warehouse’s success, however, Larry said it can prove difficult to feature successful bands and still turn a sizable profit. As many bands that perform at The Warehouse are typi- cally paid much more for playing larger venues, Larry said, sometimes small-town charm just isn’t enough.

“You’re not making big, big bucks,” Larry said about the financial side of booking and hosting shows. “The band gets most of the money—they have to.”

Michelle said this was especially difficult when The Warehouse first opened. “You never know about the guarantee,” Michelle said. “At first, we lost a lot.”

She said this especially opened her family’s eyes to the oftentimes difficult nature of the music business. Rather than always being able to enjoy the venue’s concerts, various members of the family handle tickets, seating, bartending and sometimes all of the above at any given show.

“Takes out the element of, ‘Oh, it’s fun going to a concert,’” Michelle said. “It’s work, and if you’re not getting your guarantee and you’re stressed about the money part, it’s not fun.”

Larry said he believes the family is able to manage these difficulties simply because it’s family.

“We hold our expenses down by being family,” Larry said. “We couldn’t do it without our sons and daughters.”

Larry and Michelle’s daughter AnnChaney Deaton, a Bowling Green native and senior at the University of Kentucky, said she appreciates the family business and the work her parents put in daily to keep it running. On concert nights, she said she often does everything from helping bands unload gear to helping guests find their seats.

“I think it’s really unique to have parents in this business,” AnnChaney said. “Not many people do.”

She said she’s especially happy to see how The Warehouse has affected her father.

“I appreciate what he’s done,” AnnChaney said. “I do this for my dad because I know how much he loves the music.”
AnnChaney said she attributes the

venue’s success to its unusualness. Though nearby Nashville is known for its catering to country and bluegrass music fanatics, she said she believes Bowling Green is an outlier.

“There is no one like this in Bowling Green,” AnnChaney said. “I think that’s what makes us stand out.”

Larry said he’s grateful for the support his family has received over the past decade. He said he has met people from all over the country who have come to see a show at The Warehouse.

“We have a lot of great supporters who come to a lot of shows,” Larry said. “They want us to succeed, because they know there’s not that many venues where they can see their favorite artists and sit within three feet of them.”

Whether someone is near 80 or just over college-age, Larry said he loves to see them at the shows his family plans and makes happen. He said he believes the Bowling Green community’s enthusiasm toward live music is something special.

“The people respect their music here,” Larry said. “That’s what we’ve seen for 10 years—how much they respect the music—and they show that respect to the artists. And the artists, they really appreciate that.”

Aside from hosting concerts, The Warehouse is also home to Michelle’s catering business, where both Larry and Michelle work most week days. Offering a wide variety of home-cooked meals like pork roast, beef tenderloin, bacon-wrapped chicken breast and shrimp and grits, the business serves catering events in the entire surrounding area, including Nashville, Paducah, Elizabethtown and Somerset.

On concert nights, tickets at The Warehouse typically cost $20 for seating and $15 for standing, while WKU students who present a valid student ID may receive a ticket for $12. Its next show is scheduled to take place on April 13, featuring Nashville artist Ward Davis. More information regarding shows and services is available on its website and Facebook page.

In keeping with its history, however, Larry said he’s always liked the business’ word-of-mouth manner of operation. He said he believes it keeps The Warehouse honest.

“That’s really the best way—your product is proving itself,” Larry said. “If we didn’t love it, we wouldn’t do it.”

Reporter Griffin Fletcher can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected].