The Royal Music Hall
Published October 1, 2021
B.J. Lowrance’s Royal Music Hall is enchanting.
From the ornately gilded mirrors and superb lighting to the carefully curated color scheme and elegantly sublime chair and table pairings, The Royal Music Hall offers a delightful visual experience. Unexpected and always interesting music completes the alluring ambiance.
Very occasionally you come across a space so charming and wonderfully welcoming as if it is waiting in that moment to be discovered by you. The Royal Music Hall in Springfield, Missouri, is such a place—a tiny venue with a bodacious name—audaciously dedicated to delivering a true listening room experience.
Joining us today is B.J. Lowrance, musician and owner of The Royal Music Hall, and sponsor of NoteWorthy Music.
Welcome, B.J., and thank you for joining us.
~Bambi Grinder, NoteWorthy Music
NWM: Please introduce yourself, briefly, as a venue owner and human of Earth.
B.J: B.J. Lowrance, born and raised in SW Missouri. I’ve owned restaurants and wedding/event venues in the past and was a musician for many years. I spent some time traveling with my band mostly along the Mississippi River corridor.
NWM: We are enchanted by The Royal Music Hall, a tiny venue with a bodacious name that is dedicated to being a true listening room.
Please share about your venue, your commitment to a true listening room experience, and why that is important to you.
B.J: I kind of feel like The Royal is a conglomeration of my experiences to this point in life. Taking my knowledge from the hospitality world, my experience from being a musician and agent/manager, and my likes/dislikes from spending time in bars/music venues. I strive to have a unique, clean, and comfortable space with good customer service and an approachable menu. During shows we have about 20 seats inside so it’s a very intimate experience. Our patio is always open. The interior was designed with inspiration from Wes Anderson films, symmetric with whimsy.
I spent some time traveling with my band mostly along the Mississippi River corridor.
When I was with my band we played all kinds of shows, ranging from restaurant background to weddings and corporate events all the way to opening for Olivia Newton John. At some point we were all relying on the gigs for at least a portion of our income and we were playing two weekly gigs at a couple restaurants in town and then playing ‘real gigs’ on the weekends. The difference between the two settings was immense. It was nice making the money, but essentially being a jukebox was heart wrenching. Playing (and attending and hosting) house concerts was always my favorite way to play and listen to music. The connection and appreciation between the musician and audience is so incredible. Shows at The Royal (I hope) are as close as you can get to a house concert in a commercial setting.
NWM: One is immediately drawn to the lovely mirrors decorating your walls. Is there a story behind them?
B.J: Most of the mirrors came from local flea markets and consignment stores. The big one behind the bar came from legendary local restaurant Riverside Inn.
Along with being a place for dates, weddings, and politicians, Riverside Inn was also briefly a speakeasy—and was apparently pretty haunted. Unfortunately, it was torn down due to constant flooding because it sat right on the Finley River (which was why it was an easy speakeasy).
The mirror is at least 100 years old, and I love it’s imperfections. You can feel the history of Riverside Inn when you look in it.
NWM: At The Royal Music Hall, when there is not live music, you play a truly awesome eclectic and broad range of music, including 60’s Brit-pop, new wave classics, and Latin/world music.
Please share about your curated playlists and the music you choose.
B.J: Our main playlist is mostly based on Wes Anderson soundtracks, which are very Brit-pop and new wave heavy, but I’ve been working on it for a couple of years now, so there’s several hundred songs on there—19 hours of music at this point. I constantly add to it as well. If I hear a song that’s unique, a little left of center, or I could imagine it on a soundtrack I add it. I’ve also been really into bands like Khruangbin, Vulfpeck, Kevin Morby, J. Hoard, and plenty of others; so it makes for a pretty eclectic playlist. You’ll be hard up to hear a Top 40, but if it fits the vibe, I won’t say no.
I really like Latin/world music. Being a drummer, I just can’t get away from the rhythm of Afro-Cuban and other Latin musicians. I love artists like William Onyeabor and Jorge Ben Jor that ride that line between world and ‘pop.’ Recently I’ve been getting into Japanese alt-pop, I guess is how it would be classified; artists like Shintaro Sakamoto and Haruomi Hosono.
You’ll be hard up to hear a Top 40, but if it fits the vibe, I won’t say no.
I don’t want to sound pretentious, because I personally listen to a lot of Top 40 music. Not necessarily today’s Top 40, but I don’t shy away from it. At The Royal, I play music based on my mood that day, like most people do, but it has to fit our ‘vibe.’ It could be Tears For Fears, Vulfpeck, Khruangbin, or The Kinks. It just depends on the day.
We also have a pretty decent little vinyl collection that I’m constantly adding to. The bulk of it came from our business neighbors Tea Bar & Bites who showed up with a couple boxes full one day. The rest has been passed down to me from friends, family, and customers and stuff I’ve bought along the way. People are always welcome to pick a vinyl, and we’ll throw it on!
NWM: You offer refined bar food, upscale dive-bar drinks, as well as non-alcoholic options.
Please tell us about your menu and specialty drinks.
B.J: We have shareable finger foods for sale: soft pretzel, hummus, house chips, and adult lunchables (charcuterie plate). Items that are bar friendly but maybe a bit better than the bag of pretzels, nachos, or slice of pizza (Not that we haven’t looked into it) you might see at a dive bar.
Our drink menu does include some classic cocktails, but we’re still learning so I hesitate to say we’re a ‘cocktail bar.’ We have seasonally rotating signature bottled cocktails as well. We batch and bottle them in house and top them right before service. It’s a great way to get a more complicated drink with a lot of ingredients to customers without it taking a long time.
Yes, the door charges are higher, but that’s to make sure the artists get paid what they’re worth.
We have plenty of non-alcoholic drinks as well, including a mocktail list. The mocktail list changes seasonally as well, with a couple of the drinks based off of our signature bottled cocktails. We want to make sure there is something for everyone that comes to a show. Just because we are hosting music doesn’t mean you should have to drink alcohol. We want people to be comfortable and be able to enjoy the music and atmosphere regardless of your position on the wagon.
NWM: Is there anything you would want our readers to know about you or The Royal that we might not know to ask?
B.J.: I’ve gotten some kick back on the price of tickets at The Royal, so I think it’s important to point out that 100% of the door goes to the artist. Yes, the door charges are higher, but that’s to make sure the artists get paid what they’re worth.
We only seat 20, and if it’s a low cover charge the artist wouldn’t make what they’re worth. These people have spent most of their lives, and tons of time weekly practicing, learning, and writing, and that should be appreciated. The small space and audience size allows for a very unique and special experience, so the higher prices are definitely worth it, in my opinion.
NWM: Please share what is upcoming for The Royal.
B.J.: Upcoming events:
Oct 2 – Izabel Crane
Oct 5 – DJ Cal – All Country, All Vinyl – Calvin Todd is a local musician, big on the DIY scene and does country. He plays with regionals like Dylan Earl and does an all country-all vinyl set for us once a month. This will be the last for the year unfortunately. We like to do it on the patio and don’t figure we’ll have good weather for the following months.
Oct 6 – Stitch and Bitch – Not really a music thing, but I think it’s fun. Several people show up with their fiber arts project – Needle work, stitching, quilting, etc.
Oct 8 – Dylan Earl and Calvin Todd (patio show, no cover)
Oct 12 – Faulter – Vinyl set
Oct 17 – Barak Hill (patio show, no cover)
Oct 20 – Stitch and Bitch
Oct 23 – The Jarfly’s
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Writer and Editor
Co-founder/owner of NoteWorthy Music, Bambi Grinder has spent many years as a shaper of words—writing novels and short fiction (which she prefers in first-person present tense). Bambi is delighted to make this foray into the digital landscape with NoteWorthy Music as publisher, editor, writer, and web designer and developer.
You may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The Royal is an intimate space for music, refined bar food, upscale dive-bar drinks, and non-alcoholic options. We focus on music—live performances, vinyl, and curated playlists—60's Brit-pop, new wave classics, or Latin/world music. We specialize in listening room shows. Artists pour their life into their craft and deserve our attention. Swing by for a cocktail, snack, and conversation about music.
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