PSALM Salon: House Music.
Text and image by Jane Sorensen.
“I like finding the strangest places to play,” says California singer-songwriter David Berkley during his recent performance at the PSALM Salon.
About 60 people – a full house – sit in the intimate listening room, which is decorated with candles and ornate vases. If there is a sense of comfort, a homeyness, in the Overbrook venue, it’s not by accident.
PSALM Salon chairman Jamey Reilly resides there with his wife Suyun and their children. The stage is located in what was previously a living room. Unlike the average living room, however, it provides crisp acoustics that surpass those in most theatres.
Using state-of-the-art equipment, Reilly can adjust the sound to accommodate solo artists with guitars, such as Leon Redbone, or bands like the Andreas Capsalsis Trio, who employ a variety of drums, keyboards and string instruments. Reilly is a music veteran who has worked as a sound engineer for major artists including Aerosmith and Frank Zappa.
“Music is my passion, and this is what I really love to do,” said Reilly.
He opened the PSALM, which stands for the Philadelphia Society for Art, Literature and Music, in 2004 (there is no religious affiliation). They hold all-ages shows every weekend, with more than 80 performances per year, plus a monthly blues jam.
During intermissions, the audience is invited into the kitchen where they are offered a gourmet meal catered by a nearby restaurant Avril. The musicians generally join the patrons for this dinner.
While the salon has a few regular fans who return for almost every Saturday evening show, most patrons discover the venue by following an artist faithfully. Anthony Patrick traveled from New Jersey to see the Andreas Capsalsis Trio.
“I came here excited to see them perform,” he says. “And then I ate dinner with them!”
In the next room over, a table displays rare jewelry, artisan ware, and scarves. Suyun Reilly imports these items from China, her native land, and sells them with her company, Suyun Imports.
“This is one of the nicest venues we’ve ever played,” says Gena Gillespie of the local Celtic band Burning Bridget Cleary.