NORWALK, Conn. — Miles Marek was looking at a map a few weeks ago, trying to find a venue for two Grammy Award-winning artists to offer a concert. When his eyes hit Norwalk, he had an “Aha” moment: Why not Concert Hall?
“It’s really great this happens to be here. There’s no reason it shouldn’t be doing shows year round,” he said of the facility, which is part of Norwalk City Hall. “I think the acoustics in here are terrific.”
Marek and his partner Tyler Grill are the “M” and the “T” in M.T. Heads, a new for-profit concert promotion business. They aspire to make Fairfield County – and southwestern Connecticut – an entertainment destination, filling a void and offering the locals entertainment in their own backyard.
Marek, founder and former executive director of the Fairfield Theatre Company, and Grill of Grill Entertainment Group of Fairfield plan to use existing venues, matching entertainers with facilities that are just right for them in terms of size and location.
“If you look at the landscape here, what you come to find out is every other town in Fairfield County has some facility like that that is underutilized,” Marek said. “It’s run by the town. They don’t really know how to book the artists, they don’t know how to build the event, sell the tickets. In a way, we’re offering a service a town like Norwalk, that has a facility and has a audience, but they don’t have the knowledge and the expertise to program it.”
M.T. Heads is presenting “An Acoustic Evening with Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin” on April 27 at Concert Hall. But in December, Marek and Grill were determined to find a place for Carpenter and Colvin to perform together, and it wasn’t working.
“We were looking at a couple of different auditoriums that weren’t available to us in this time frame,” Marek said. “And I’m thinking, ‘Where is there a room in Fairfield County? There’s got to be some room.’ And I thought years ago, I was asked to do something with the Norwalk Symphony. And I remembered this auditorium. It just sits here idle most of the time.
“I thought that would be the perfect place for an acoustic duo to perform. It’s a thousand seats; they can easily fill it. It’s got a nice Town Hall atmosphere, and I realized, they’re not doing much with this room. We could be doing a lot of those types of shows here, and it’s great. It’s so easy to get to — right off Exit 16.”
City Clerk Erin Halsey, who appreciates the history of City Hall, said she is thrilled by the idea of using the former Norwalk High School school auditorium more effectively.
Ticket prices include a $1 donation to Norwalk's Open Door Shelter. Future concerts will include a $1 facility fee, which will go to improving the hall. Marek and Grill plan to do something to darken the windows in the summer, perhaps a film over the glass. That would be the start of improvements.
Halsey hopes that using the hall for acts of that level will bring more people to Norwalk and its businesses. Tad Diesel, director of business and marketing, agreed. “The expanded use of this Concert Hall would be wonderful,” he said.
M.T. Heads will offer concessions, and its founders believe people will enjoy the stone patio outside Concert Hall when the weather is nice.
Tickets range from $55 to $85 for the April concert, and Grill said the front center section is already sold out.
M.T. Head’s first concert was Little Feat in January at the Quick Center on the campus of Fairfield University. It has been speaking to venues in Westport about using facilities for concerts, as well as other Fairfield venues.
“The thing that makes this kind of expansion really interesting is that by having a lot of different rooms available, we can focus on putting the right entertainer in the right-size room and pricing it at the right price for the audience,” Marek said.
“There’s a lot of room for the talent,” Grill said. “Let’s put it this way: It’s going to be a very long time before Connecticut is oversaturated.”
(Correction made, 11:30 a.m.)