WHITE ROCK — Most recording studios can't fit more than a producer, an audio engineer and a band, but that's not how Kelly Breaks runs things at Blue Frog Studios.
Breaks opened the studio on Johnston Road about five years ago, in the former Rock Beach studio space, but it wasn't until 2010 that he decided to try something different and test it as a venue for live music.
(SEE VIDEO BELOW OF HEART TRIBUTE BAND 'BARRACUDA' LIVE AT BLUE FROG STUDIOS)
"We had several people come in just wanting to shoot music videos without an audience," he recalled. "We set up the stage in the studio for that and then realized that, 'Hey, we can put an audience in here as well and sell tickets to it.'" The studio's first show was Grammy Award-winner Dan Hill, best known for the 1978 smash ballad "Sometimes When We Touch." It didn't take long for Breaks to figure out that adding a live-music component was a good idea.
"We put tickets on sale - it sold out within a week," said Breaks, noting that Hill added a second show that also quickly sold out. "We knew we were onto something."
Since then, Blue Frog has hosted acts from a variety of genres, including funk, rock, soul, jazz, country, pop, blues, Celtic and roots. The studio seats a little more than 100 people, making for a very intimate setting.
"It's almost like a VIP experience," said Breaks. "The artists like to connect with the audience - a lot of times during they show, they talk back and forth. They hang around after the show and sign CDs and meet and greet people."
Breaks said most other recording studios aren't designed to seat 100 people, so in that regard, transforming Blue Frog into a live venue wasn't all that difficult. However, they had to invest a lot into technical equipment such as LED lighting and a $60,000 mixer.
"It's an amazing venue because it's a recording studio, so it's acoustically perfect," he said. "It's a great place for artists to play in, and it's a great place for people to see an artist in their best space."
Breaks doesn't seem to have any trouble filling the place with every act that comes through. The studio has a number of upcoming shows, including jazz by the Jodi Proznick Trio on Oct. 25, Santana tribute act Supernatural on Oct. 26 and the blues of the Harpdog Brown Band on Nov. 15.
"The live concerts and live events have become probably equal to the recording side of our business in terms of revenue and busy-ness," he said, noting that he's always looking for high-calibre talent to take the stage. "We look for groups that are really working to get up to the next level in their career or groups that are already established.
"If we don't personally go out and see them (beforehand), at least we know someone who we trust and respect who has seen them."
In addition, the studio has taken further advantage of the performing space by offering artists high-definition video recordings of their shows.
"The music business now is all about playing live, and so bands need good video to put up on their website and up on YouTube," said Breaks. "It doesn't work when they're playing some local bar and there's glasses clinking and waitresses yelling - we treat our concerts like it's a recording session."
© Copyright 2013