Along the cluttered line of shops on Boscawen Street, Valley Cat Studios stands out amongst the drab of Old Town Winchester on such a cold November afternoon. The white finish and bright blue letters reading VALLEY CAT on the window was a stark contrast to the darker-toned shops around. Chris Kallick, the owner of the venue, hustled into the building for his interview, in which he discussed the topic of Valley Cat in great detail.
The venue is fairly new, starting out about a year and eight months ago. It originated in a more cramped building where Chris was focused on live recordings, but it was recently relocated to downtown Winchester in order to be less hidden. It was a well-needed addition to the Winchester music scene, as Valley Cat opened a new door for indie rock, punk, metal, alternative, and even rap artists. Surprisingly, his hip-hop shows were some of the most well attended. “It’s ‘cause there’s nowhere else to go to get it. Winchester’s scared of hip-hop,” he explained, alluding to his experience with the scene in D.C., which is where he’s originally from. Prior to moving to Winchester, he took part in many different aspects of the music business, but he left D.C. to get away from all of the chaos and discovered Winchester. Upon finding the small town, he realized there was a need for a stronger local music scene, and he saw many opportunities in starting a venue that was solely meant for music.
Valley Cat is definitely unique to the Winchester scene, not just because of the venue itself, but because of everything else that’s involved. Apart from exciting shows, there’s the studio and record label aspect of Valley Cat. When bands play, they have the option for their live performance to be recorded, but they can also record their music to be produced. The record label gives bands the opportunity to start somewhere safe and small. The point isn’t to make bands extremely successful, but it gives them support and the chance to reach a larger audience. The bands on the label range from indie to metal including Morning Banana Diet, Older Notes, and Bishops.
“Within the next two to three years, I wanna be able to pack this place twice a week. And once I can do that, if it’s sooner that’d be awesome, then possibly go into a bigger location that’s a full-on venue setup,” Chris said, describing his future goals. As he further explained his visions, he revealed his ideas about having some form of concessions and the potential to serve alcohol. But more importantly, he has goals for the town as a whole, stating that he wants “Winchester [to be] on the map as a good spot. It’s already kind of getting there, but instead of a band that just wants to play D.C. and Virginia, maybe they wanna play Richmond, D.C., [and] Winchester after five to ten years.”
Overall, Valley Cat is the perfect place for a blossoming band and opens up Winchester to many artists, whether local or on tour. With high energy shows about twice a week, it provides an inclusive and supportive environment and has the potential to give the Winchester music scene enough momentum to finally take off – which could result in something incredible.