Cult Classic Music Venue brings a music scene to Kent Island

Story and photos by Caroline J. Phillips

The band, Taylor Polynomial, plays at the Cult Classic music venue earlier this year.

Live music brings people together, and on Kent Island it’s bringing them to a local brewery.

Nestled inside Kent Island’s own Cult Classic Brewery lives a new music venue that connects the community to musicians from near and far. There’s not a bad seat in the house, and a large stage, high-quality audio abilities, and talented sound engineer make it the go-to spot for local bands and touring musicians passing through the area.

Beer came first — but Jesse McNew, one of the managing partners and head brewers of Cult Classic Brewing, soon realized that the drinkery had the space to build a dedicated music venue off the taproom.

A few months after the site opened in 2018, the stage went live. For just over a year, the sound space has enjoyed great music and successful shows. You can grab one of Cult Classic’s own local brews and spend the night listening to music in their cozy space.

“It’s a small, intimate venue, with no bad seats,” said McNew.

“I want people to come and experience it the best they can.”

Although many breweries feature live music to enhance the social vibe, it’s often an afterthought confined to a small corner. At Cult Classic, large doors and a box office separate the taproom from the venue. McNew realized that not everyone who comes in for a beer wants to listen to the music.

“We didn’t come into it thinking we’d have a separate space tuned for live music that is unique to the area, it kind of just snowballed,” McNew said.

The venue is unique to a brewery environment because it was constructed with the music in mind. McNew realized that they needed to create a space that would attract the bands, not just the audience.

“When you have a space that the band likes, a stage that has what they want, a space that sounds good, and a talented sound engineer that can make them sound great, then the bands are happy,” he said. The talent also has a separate outside entrance, restrooms, and their own green room.

The exterior and taps at the brewery

This attention to detail has led to a wide variety of musical acts joining the lineup at Cult Classic. While they’ve seen a good amount of local talent on the stage, the venue has also attracted touring bands from nearby Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Annapolis, and nationwide. It’s quite the treat to pop into one of the many shows in their weekly lineup, and one can hear a variety of genres at the Kent Island haunt.

Most weekend nights there are lively shows, and oftentimes there are Thursday or Sunday night bands bookending the Friday and Saturday crowds. One of the most well-attended evenings are their Open Mic Nights on Tuesdays, which is open to any burgeoning musician or musical act in the community. Tickets are affordable, which makes it easy for true blue fans to attend different shows several times a week.

When asked what’s next for the venue at Cult Classic Brewery, McNew has a lot of ideas. Just this month, the team received an updated liquor license which allowed for a new kitchen and a fresh variety of food and beverage choices.

McNew says that “with a space like this, we hope to get more and more popular bands that come through the area, but that comes with time. The options are pretty endless.”

What you can expect when you walk into the venue at the Cult Classic Brewery is to hear a new band, a new sound, or even your favorite local band playing to a crowd. McNew says that the focus is on the viewing experience.

“We want this room to be a focus on the music. We look to makes the bands happy, which makes the fans happy.”

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