A SPECIAL PLACE
Musician’s personal studio transforms into arts venue
Inside the Dreamsicle studio in Suncook.
Musician Vinx De’Jon Parrette.
A performances is held inside the studio.
Comedian Alonzo Bodden and Vinx De’Jon Parrette take the stage.
Last year, a new musical creative arts center opened in a small brick building right along the Suncook River. It’s called Dreamsicle, and if you love eclectic soulful music, have a taste for something different, and want to expand your musical horizons, you might want to check this place out. Because Suncook has become a whole lot cooler since Dreamsicle came to town.
Dreamsicle is the concept of two partners: vocalist and business manager Jennifer Lambert, and world-renowned vocalist, percussionist, and songwriter Vinx De’Jon Parrette. The two founded and opened Dreamsicle in February 2013 and since have brought a series of events and musical happenings to the space.
Who is Vinx?
Vinx is larger than life. Sitting next to me in a comfy corner of the Dreamsicle studio, Vinx commands attention. With his signature colored glasses, bandana, and rich baritone voice, his personality fills up the room. Vinx has had an incredible life, and I can tell he’s going to shake up the local music scene.
Originally from Kansas City, Vinx first made his mark on the world as an Olympic track and field star. His posting of the second longest triple-jump in the world gained him a spot on the 1980 U.S. Olympic team. His hopes of Olympic glory, however, were dashed by the 1980 U.S. boycott. When an injury prevented him from competing in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, Vinx left Olympic competition, and turned to music.
As a songwriter and percussionist Vinx had his first breaks with blues guitarist Taj Mahal, and Ricky Lee Jones, and wrote songs for Tom Jones. While performing with Robben Ford, Sting heard Vinx and invited him to play on his album Soul Cages. Vinx would then get the nod to tour with Sting over the next 18 months, performing nearly 200 shows all over the world.
Since then, Vinx’s career has led him to collaborate with some of the greatest musicians and bands in the music industry, including Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Sheryl Crow, Branford Marsalis, Darius Rucker, Vance Gilbert, Cassandra Wilson, Cher and many more.
Today, he is a professor at Berklee College of Music in Boston and a highly sought after musician, songwriter, and clinician. During his gig at Berklee he met vocalist Jenn Lambert, who is originally from New Hampshire. The couple settled in the Concord area, and began looking to build a new creative studio for Vinx.
“We looked at spaces in downtown Concord, but needed to find a space that didn’t have sound issues with neighbors,” Vinx said in a recent interview. “When we found this building in Suncook, we knew this was the place.”
Originally conceived as a personal studio for Vinx, Dreamsicle has since broadened its concept to include a wider, more public audience.
“Initially, this was just my workspace. But then we thought we have this great space here, we should do more with it,” he said.
The space itself is the perfect place to inspire creativity. It’s an older brick two-story building, with a basement and a working bell tower. The main floor features a large performance space with a stage, an isolation booth, a control room with the latest audio recording equipment, and a basement that is being converted into practice rooms. High ceilings, big open rooms and maple floors abound.
The main performance room holds about 50 people, and has warm acoustics and clear sightlines. Vibrant colors, and African and music inspired art decorate the walls. There are numerous social areas with casual furniture, couches, and tables for hanging with friends. It’s a soulful and funky environment used for concerts, events, and private parties.
A bit of everything
But it’s hard to describe what Dreamsicle really is. It’s a little bit of everything. It’s a space for creativity and education. It’s a recording studio where bands and artists can record and rehearse. It’s an artist management and booking agency. It’s a place to take classes. It’s a music school that offers lessons to students. It’s a place to hear awesome music that you won’t hear anywhere else.
Dreamsicle hosts many events throughout the year that feature world-class musicians in small and intimate settings.
Their ongoing series of Soul Recitals showcase local and national artists, musicians, and performers in every musical genre. Recent Soul Recitals have featured the Latin/reggae/jazz vocalist and composer Virginia Rubino, a claw-hammer banjo seminar, and Concord folk songwriter Ryan Williams
The recitals are open to the public, but to attend you must join Dreamsicle’s listening club. All you have to do is sign up on their website dreamsiclearts.com.
Over the recent Memorial Day weekend, Dreamsicle hosted the Shire Vocal Summit, a three-day series of workshops, discussions and performing clinics for singers and vocal artist. Performers and guest artists flew in from all over the country. The summit featured vocalist Dolette McDonald (Talking Heads and Rolling Stones), the lead singer of Living Color, Corey Glover, and comedian Alonzo Bodden, a frequent panelist on NPR’s Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me.
In October and November, Dreamsicle will host the New England regionals for the national Songwriting Festival & Competition. Over four weeks the studio will be home to an amazing array of professional songwriters and performances, with celebrity guest judges and a star-studded grand finale performance night. The competition will determine the Northeast winners for both the best individual song, and the best songwriter, who will then move on to the national competition.
“The best song chosen at the end of the festival, will be performed by professional musicians in three different genres, because a great song should work well in many different styles,” Vinx said.
Also, Dreamsicle was recently chosen to be a participating venue in the “Live from Lincoln Center” Jazz Series broadcasts. These concerts, streamed live in high definition from Lincoln Center to a small network of venues, will feature the famous Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and Wynton Marsalis, and many other jazz greats.
For information about Dreamsicle events and to join their Listening Club, visit the website at dreamsiclearts.com