Behind the Bar with Sean Thegen

Published Fri, Aug 31, 2012 09:06 AM
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Sean Thegen from Motorco in Durham. Photo by Peter Musser

Submitted by Melissa Howsam — Correspondent

With a mostly Bull City upbringing (before adulthood in the Big City), there is perhaps no less fitting stage for a bandster-soundster-sipster than Durham's car dealership-turned-rock house, Motorco.

Taking stage — both behind the bar and literally — at the perennially packed quick-rise music mainstay in April 2011, the soundstician first joined the ranks to lend a little labor ... and never left. "[I came on] to lend an extra hand to Chris Tamplin [a la Tir na nOg fame] and Eric Blakeslee for a packed Kool Moe Dee show and pretty much never left after that," he says. "It [began] as the glue to start my freelance audio engineer career ... but I never left, despite that working out."

And work out it did — considering his sound-staging is creating quite the buzz. "I've worked on Burt's Bees commercials for Baldwin & Agency, and other assorted projects for local bands or filmmakers," - like North State Sound on local projects (i.e. that bangin' new sound system at The Pinhook), the Haw River Ballroom, the NC Museum of Art, as well as acting as sound and systems tech for Duke performances.

And when he's not busy engineering reverb, find the music man making some noise of his own: "I play in the band PRISMS," he says. "We play around the area at Kings, Duke Coffeehouse, The Pinhook, Local 506 and Motorco, as well."

So whether you belly up at his bar or his stage, clearly Thegen is tappin' out some real good times. Get you some.


Hometown: I was born in Maine but spent most of my childhood in Durham and most of my adult life in New York.

Almost two years old now, how would you rate Motorco's impact on the local music scene? I moved back about 5 years ago and the growth that Durham has undergone is pretty impressive. Watching this particular neighborhood explode has been something. It brings out a very diverse nightlife crowd between all the bars in the area and that's what makes it so much more interesting than a downtown strip. I enjoy the post-industrial backdrop to a swanky Charlotte-type vibe.

The Central Park District that houses Motorco (and Fullsteam and Geer Street, etc., etc.) could easily be billed the best neighborhood to hang in, in the Triangle. What's it like to work in such a quick-rise neighborhood? Unpredictable, the variety of acts and events is impressive. We've had Christian rock and the Push fetish party in the same week.

What you love about the Durham bar scene: Different vibes within walking distance makes for a great bar crawl or an easy escape.

The "gospel," according to Sean: Come down easy.

Current playlist: The Liars, Peaking Lights, Sun Araw and The Congos.

Your app addiction: NBA Jam (Big Head Mode).

Your go-to drink/hang spot (other than Motorco): Surf Club or Pinhook.

Never leave home without: Sunglasses.

Attached? A tall drink of water by the name of Margaret McNab.

To live on the edge, you... I fell off the edge awhile ago.

If you're out to eat, we'll find you grubbing at: A food truck in front of Motorco, KoKyu or Chirba Chirba most likely. [Or] Matt Kelly's (Vin Rouge) new tapas joint, Mateo.

Best part about being behind the bar? People watching.

The advice you wish you could give thirsty patrons: Keep it simple.

Motorco Music Hall

723 Rigsbee Ave.

Durham, NC, 27701

Phone: 919.901.0875



Sean says come to Motorco because...

"Two stages, pingpong, outdoor patio, food trucks and the best beer selection in the neighborhood. And the only parking lot."

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