Musicians need a place to play. People need to listen. Towns need a place where both of those things can happen. In Madison, that place is JoeyG’s, and the person who helped make that happen was Joey Gayles, who passed away this weekend.
I didn’t know Joey well at all, but as a place-ist, I believe the places we make are a reflection of who we are. I know the place Joey helped to make, and so I know he was a generous person who loved music and art. I know that the place he made has been a central part of the social and cultural life of our town, and so I know that Joey cared about Madison.
JoeyG’s is the place where I first met and hung out with many of the people who would eventually become my friends and my community. It was for years the place where a group of us would get together every Wednesday night to drink beer and talk about the unimportant things that needed to be talked about. It was a different version of our own little pub, our own little barbershop, a place where you could show up or not, but everyone would be happy to see you when you did.
JoeyG’s is the place where, in that little group, I got to know my husband. It is the place where, after much persuasion, we went on our first “date.” It is the place where the two of us sat in one of the front tables that is encased by window, looking out onto the heart of downtown Madison in the most satisfying combination of people-watching and privacy. It was at that table that my husband convinced me to please, please give him a chance, over a veggie burger and a Bass Ale.
JoeyG’s is the place where several years later, my husband and I stood up on the stage, singing and playing for a room full of friends. It is the place where countless other people were also able to do that for the first time. May it continue to be that place.
JoeyG’s is the place that always has art on the wall, and it is always local art. It is the place where you probably first saw the work of many of our local artists. It is always a place with something interesting on the walls, even in the bathroom, where you can hang with Janis Joplin and Tiny Tim.
JoeyG’s is the place where, even if you don’t necessarily stop by, there is always music. Dixieland music, blues music, punk music, rock music. On your way to somewhere else, you can glance in those big glass front windows and see someone making music. If you want to hear music in Madison, it is the place to go. It is a musician’s home. It is the place where music matters.
I didn’t know Joey Gayles very well, but I know the place he made. And so I know Madison will miss him.