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Sound Circuit

Max in a nutshell

3/2/2016

With the start of 2016, Des Moines welcomed to the world a unique musical experience in the form of Noce, the only jazz club of its kind in the state. It is an idea whose time had come. There are plenty of jazz-starved fans in the city, and programs like the events at Drake’s Turner Jazz Center or the shows put on as part of the Jazz at Caspe Terrace series have helped elevate central Iowa’s music fans’ tastes for the great American art form. But perhaps most integral to the club’s long-term success is the instillation of Max Wellman as Noce’s general manager and head booker.

Max Wellman performs at Noce, 1326 Walnut St., every Thursday in March.

Max Wellman performs at Noce, 1326 Walnut St., every Thursday in March.

Wellman is well known to Iowa’s jazz fans, as his clean, classic vocals have been gracing stages and jazz festivals around the state since he was a teen. But Noce provides Wellman with a singular opportunity. Not only does it give Wellman the chance to personally form a space’s identity from day one, but it provides him with a strong base from which to operate and continue building his own musical career.

“Everything has been going really well,” Wellman said of Noce’s first two months. “This is definitely my artistic home now. I had the change to craft this venue from scratch, so I know it’s to my liking.”

He does not seem to be alone in that assessment. The venue has reported selling out space on the weekends, and touring musicians who have played Noce’s early days have fallen in love with the space, which has generated some great word of mouth.

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“I get a dozen inquiries (about playing) a day, from across the country,” Wellman said. “Up to very high level performers. I’m in very deep water, sooner than I expected, as far as booking.”

But while booking and the day-to-day running of Noce will obviously fill a lot of Wellman’s time, performing will always be foremost in his heart. To that end, Wellman moved his annual Valentine’s Day shows to the space and performs as part of a weekly residency as well. In the future, Wellman sees Noce as a chance to expand his personal repertoire while also enriching the city.

“I will only be doing more diverse performing in this space, because it is a given home for me to do that. I’ve got to get Noce completely on its feet first, but I have all kinds of plans for recording,” he said. CV

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