The back room at Painted Stave Distilling is where experiments with gin and vodka are happening in Delaware. PSD's latest experiment has little to do with making liquor. The guys will host two up-and-coming Firefly Festival artists in June.


Beyond the heavy double doors in Painted Stave Distilling’s art gallery is where the magic happens and inventive liquors are made and bottled.

Last Saturday night, just before hosting the bottling party for South River (White) Gin, PSD co-owner Ron Gomes was standing just behind the stills overlooking the entire distilling area and took time to map out his and his partner Mike Rasmussen's latest experiment: hosting a music concert.

The idea began to ferment earlier this month following a meeting with Firefly Music Festival Director Greg Bostrom for a possible PSD presence at future Firefly Festivals. Gomes and Rasmussen, interested in hosting music, inquired about the possibility of scoring any Firefly acts.

It turns out that most Firefly acts are expensive. According to Gomes, it also turns out that Firefly musicians are typically under contract to perform exclusively at the festival, thereby not allowing other venues to piggyback on the notoriety of the festival or cheapen the experience for fans who shelled out big bucks to see the artists scheduled to perform at The Woodlands, Firefly’s festival grounds.

But, it also turns out that Firefly officials were not unwilling to discuss the subject. Eventually, they agreed that Painted Stave would be able to host two of their lineup's acts: Christian Porter and Breech the Summit, who were added to the official festival lineup following the December 2013 contest “The Big Break.”

“The Big Break” pitted 15 unsigned musical acts against one another for a chance to play a set at the June festival. Following an online voting period where bands with the lowest number of votes were cut from the roster on a daily basis, 15 acts were finally whittled down to only three. In addition to Christian Porter and Breech the Summit, Stop Light Observations also made the cut.

“I remember Christian Porter from ‘The Voice,’” said Gomes, recalling Porter’s audition on the reality show. The musician sang LMFAO’s song “Sexy and I Know It.” Porter was eliminated from “The Voice” early on, during the head-to-head battles.  “I remember being impressed with him, though.”

Breech the Summit is a southern California indie-pop band whose influences read like the playlist of any young adult’s iPod: Death Cab for Cutie, Bastille, Vampire Weekend, Kings of Leon and Young the Giant, just to name a few.

“They have more of an electric sound, which will be stripped down for the show here,” Gomes said. “They’re fun, though, and I like what I’ve listened to. It’s going to be interesting to see what they do with an acoustic set.”

The plan, as Gomes explained it, is to construct a small stage in the back corner of the distillery. They’ll move the stills out of the way but many of the aging barrels (and, likely the distillery smells—a wonderful, pungent odor for fans of PSD products) and other equipment will still be visible, lest anyone forget where they are watching the show.

“I think it’s going to be fun,” Gomes said. “Some of the best shows I’ve ever seen were in small, standing-room-only venues.”

The acoustic show, though featuring Firefly musicians, is not a Firefly-sponsored event. Tickets will be sold at the door and the price is likely to please music and concert-lovers who couldn’t afford any of Firefly’s many ticket options, which currently include single-day general admission passes for $49 to $109. The two sets at the Painted Stave will be packaged together for $7.

“The plan wasn’t to get rich off of this,” said Gomes. “We think the artistry that goes into making music is a nice blend with what we do. Music is art. It’s not like the art that’s hanging in our gallery but it is art.”

The Pained Stave shows will take place at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, June 19, and will be limited to standing-room only. Tickets will be sold on a first-come, first-serve basis.