Wausau Pilot & Review

Editor’s note: Business of the Week is a sponsored feature that shares the stories of locally-owned and operated businesses in the Wausau area, highlighting the products and services they offer and the ways they contribute to the metro area’s unique flavor. Learn how to feature your business by emailing christina@wausaupilotandreview.com.

If you’ve ever traveled to another city and found the perfect small venue for taking in a musical performance and thought – I wish we had something like that here – this week’s featured business is right up your alley. Lamplight Sessions, 224 Main St., Mosinee, offers intimate, integrated musical performances by nationally touring singer songwriter musicians, many of whom are traveling through the area on their way to a larger city or festival. The venue is cozy enough that you feel as though you’re taking in a show in your friend’s comfortable living room, with a bar, food trucks and outdoor space for the warmer months on site. Owner Logan Erickson, who is also a designer and promoter, launched the business last summer with his wife, Colby West, who manages Lamplight Sessions.

All photos courtesy of Lamplight Sessions

But that took a major transformation of a historic Mosinee structure, a project that was a true labor of love. Erickson said the building was originally a pharmacy and had great bones, with original tin ceilings that have since been restored and repainted. To create the feel they envisioned, they installed salvaged maple hardwood flooring and added local terrazzo, creating a unique space that envelops you in warmth and sound. Paper City Studio, led by Erickson, hired and managed all the contractors on the project and much of the custom and detail work was completed by their own hands with help from friends and family. 

Lamplight Sessions’ bartender has many years of experience mixing up stellar craft cocktails in central Wisconsin and offered the perfect addition to the team. With a malt beverage license, rather than a license to serve spirits, Lamplight chose to get creative with their offerings, which feature a selection of local and craft beer, alcoholic seltzers and plenty of unique non-alcoholic options. In addition, you’ll find beautiful, tasty cocktails that harness the flavor of house-made simple syrups, shrubs, fresh juices and seltzers – and much more.

Erickson said he saw a need in central Wisconsin for what his team provides, and so far it’s been an enormous success.

“We recognized there were very few venues in the state that focused on integrated performances that were solely about the music,” Erickson said. “We wanted this to be a venue that was about live music first, without distraction, or too many other offerings that could take away from the quality of the experience.”

In addition to music nights, the venue can be reserved for private event rentals, where groups can have the entire room and bar space to themselves. Smaller-sized weddings have been popular as well, hosted in this unique setting. Stop in at their next performance – but be sure to buy tickets in advance, because with a capacity of less than 100, seats often sell out quickly. Read on to learn more.

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Tell us about yourself and your background. What drew you to this business?

I grew up in Mosinee and moved back after college. I went to school for art and design and finished with a degree in Industrial Design- furniture and architecture being my focus. Mosinee has a lot of charm and historic buildings that I didn’t fully recognize or appreciate until moving away and seeing other parts of the country. I worked in my profession for many years at area businesses before starting my design studio in Mosinee- called Paper City Studio. I design commercial buildings and environments, including art and furniture. In addition to designing for others, I wanted to create a personal project. Ultimately, Colby and I decided to remodel a 1910 brick and mortar in Mosinee’s downtown- becoming home to our new music/art venue- Lamplight Sessions. Having the new business comprised of art and music, was a good way to bring folks into my designed environments as well as feature other art/artists I work with. 

All photos courtesy of Lamplight Sessions

When did you open your doors, and how did Lamplight Sessions go from idea to reality?

In 2020, we began the historic building renovation project. We wanted to do something that encompassed my design background, as well as my love for fine arts, music, artful food and drinks. 2020 was a good year to jump into a project of that scale. We were able to do a deep dive into the renovation and business planning with little distractions. 

All photos courtesy of Lamplight Sessions

Throughout my life, I followed and continue to follow independent and original music, mid-size touring musicians and started booking music at venues in 2017. That led to many relationships created with musicians, their management, and agencies. The musicians/music I loved; I wanted to see up-close-and-personal and in a venue that celebrated it in its best form. A venue that was personal with special experiences. In summer of 2022 we hosted our first live session.

Tell us about the venue! What is the overall vibe?

It’s a bit underground, we have no signs for our music on the building. Lamplight Sessions happen about twice a month- primarily on Thursdays, Fridays, or Saturdays. We focus on hosting touring singer-songwriter musicians for the live sessions. The space is intimate and integrated- like living room house concerts. We are a 99 capacity venue. For shows- musicians perform on a large vintage rug in the room and are surrounded by the viewers/listeners. There is very little separating the music from the ears. We have limited tickets available for each show and shows are primarily seated. We have an outdoor deck in the summer months with food trucks. We have our bar open for shows, with potential for small menu options from our kitchen. I was able to put my flair on the project with custom finishes from salvaged materials, keeping historic character and adding industrial and modern elements with influences from different design eras.

What has public response been like?

Folks seem to dig it. We sell out many of our shows. Folks enter and are quickly feeling at home in our quaint and warm space. A small room with excellent original music and limited seats, makes for a pretty special evening. We see many new faces every show and have been gaining regulars as well. We attract attendees traveling from Green Bay, Appleton, La Crosse, Eau Claire, Madison, Milwaukee. 

What musical styles are you most interested in featuring?

I love all genres of music and hand-pick every musician who plays our sessions. For our shows I tend to gravitate toward folk, blues, indie rock, soul, americana, but also love variations of jazz, punk, alternative, hip-hop, pop, classical, and country-western. Don’t be surprised if you see a hip-hop brass band in our near future.

All photos courtesy of Lamplight Sessions

How are you choosing the bands?

Most of the bands are full-time musicians, touring nationally, and regularly releasing new music. I know their music or get to know their music before they play here- the bookings/artists are not at random. Shows are curated based off of music/musicians we love and want to see in our room. Relationships in the industry go long way. We are constantly staying connected with the music scene and always discovering new music.

What kinds of relationships have you formed with other area businesses that are contributing to combined success?

We purchase many of our beer and seltzers from Mosinee Brewing Company and their options are some of our best sellers. Our show goers make an evening of it and eat at our local and downtown restaurants. We are also becoming a favorite spot for food trucks in the summer. The Mission Coffeehouse rents space at our venue and we have their coffee on our bar menu. The new downtown Cobblestone Inn & Suites, opening this year, is right next door. It will be a new spot for music travelers to stay. In addition to the art of music, we commission graphic artists to design music posters for each show, creating uniquely different art pieces for folks to bring home.

What are your hopes for the future of the business? What are you most excited about?

Our building and venue will continue to be an evolution. The environment will be ever-changing with art and the building restoration will continue into additional complementary ventures. We will regularly be thinking of ways to improve or build on the experiences. We are stoked about the new music we’re bringing in 2023. Coming up in February we have The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys from the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee- which is one of our biggest shows to date.

Lamplight Sessions