Night out: Brothers Drake Meadery

  • Photos by Tessa Berg
By Columbus Alive
From the March 22, 2012 edition

The meadery a block east of High Street on Fifth Avenue has unintentionally become a space for music, art and film. That wasn’t part of the original Brothers Drake blueprint.

“The only plan was to make mead and sell mead locally,” said co-owner Oron Benary about the meadery’s move last year from a home brewing location in Worthington to the current spacious, industrial location.

The part of the meadery open to the public has a bar and a stage with plenty of seating for an audience. After hosting a few arts events last year, the Brothers Drake owners were approached by more and more artists offering their talents in return for a place to perform.

Visitors can find a wide array of musical styles at the space. The event calendar includes jazz, classical, rock and folk performances. Brothers Drake also acts as a satellite gallery for 83 Gallery and rotates its featured visual artist once a month before Gallery Hop, and it has become a regular host of Columbus International Film + Video Festival showings.

“Other big cities have got venues like this that are outside of the traditional places you’d expect to see a certain kind of art,” Benary said.

It’s not a theater, it’s not a club and it’s not a museum.

Its hybridism is a good thing, said musician Lydia Brownfield, host of the recurring Shut Up & Listen events at Brothers Drake that feature musicians talking about and playing their music.

“There’s a lot, these days, of house concerts. It’s kind of a new phenomenon,” Brownfield said. “People play music in houses for an audience. Brothers Drake is kind of like that. It incorporates that sort of environment where everyone’s listening and it’s more of an intimate environment.”

It’s also a place for non-mainstream or new musicians to get a push in Columbus.

“I can go to Atlanta and pack a whole place, but here no one really knows me yet,” Brownfield said, adding that it’s hard to get shows sometimes at bars when she can’t promise a certain sized audience. “Sometimes it doesn’t matter how good you are, sometimes the bar is just dead. Brothers Drake is a great opportunity for me and the musicians of Shut Up & Listen. And they showcase a real diversity of music here.”

Now, more than a year after the space opened, artists play an unexpectedly important role at Brothers Drake. Supporting them is a mission the meadery hopes trickles to the public it serves.

“There’s never a cover. They can come in and hear music and give back what they feel like” by buying drinks or tipping the musicians, Benary said. “We’re trying to teach people to pay what they receive, but on their terms.”