When Mike Manuel has a big idea, the consequences spread in concentric circles, as though he dropped a pebble in a pond.
A series of big ideas – and big bucks – over more than a decade have combined to create the London Music Hall, a music venue with a national reputation among artists, promoters and fans. Since he began by creating by Rum Runners in 2004, he has added amenities, features and technology to make the Music Hall something special, home to about 250 shows and events annually.
The consequences of his big ideas include a growing local concert scene, new music festivals, a local music hall of fame, and weekly opportunities for students to interact with musicians in the former Nash Jewellers building, now part of the Music Hall.
Further down the list of consequences is a note I get every two years from London Inc. editor Gord Delamont, asking me to write about Manuel’s latest adventure. My cover story in this month’s London Inc. is the fourth story I’ve written about Manuel, always keyed by his latest big idea.
This time it’s the installation of more than 200 bar stools in the main room, in a sloped configuration behind the standing-room main floor. The project will be done later this fall, giving fans a new way to enjoy concerts, without turning the venue into a theatre with padded, folding seats – anathema to Manuel’s vision for the Hall.
A revamped Rum Runners will reopen around the same time, and the latest iteration of the Music Hall will forge ahead, bringing in bands from across the country and beyond. Meanwhile, Manuel will be dreaming up his next project. I look forward to hearing all about it in two years or so.