MadLife Stage & Studios in the heart of downtown Woodstock burst onto the music scene in 2016. With deep roots in Woodstock’s musical landscape, the venue—owned by Mike and Kerrie Levi—quickly became a hot spot for music lovers looking for a one-of-a-kind experience. MadLife offers patrons a variety of experiences, depending on what they’re looking for: food and drinks, a patio stage featuring live music, a concert-quality indoor music venue that accommodates up to 220 guests, professional recording studios with two large tracking rooms, and a state-of-the-art post-production and mixing room.

For concertgoers, a night at MadLife is more than just a chance to hear great music; it’s a journey filled with connections and community. The cozy yet lively vibe and diverse lineup spanning many genres mean there’s something there for everyone. From rock and folk to blues and jazz, MadLife brings people together through a shared love of music.

Artists Supporting Artists

Artists can’t get enough of MadLife’s intimate setting that lets them connect with fans. With a dedication to supporting up-and-coming talent and seasoned pros, the venue is a go-to for musicians wanting to showcase their skills in a laid-back yet professional setting. The on-site recording studio also gives artists a chance to capture their live shows with crystal-clear quality, adding to MadLife’s appeal in the music industry.

Tammy Flanagan, one of the lead vocalists of the Whiskey Rose Band, shares, “As a patron, it’s a place you can go enjoy drinks, dinner, and live music on the patio, or, if you want to see an established, touring band in an indoor, intimate setting, you can do that, too. I have always been a huge fan as a visitor. When we put the Whiskey Rose Band back together two years ago, we played the Woodstock Summer Concert Series as an opener for Scotty McCreery and immediately got a call from Kerrie at MadLife to come play there. I was all for it because I loved the venue already, and it was a real treat to experience it as a performer.” 

Booking Made Easy

Country singer-songwriter Baylee Littrell of Alpharetta prefers MadLife over many other north Metro Atlanta venues. Baylee began playing shows at MadLife as early as 2019 when he was just sixteen years old. “I’ve played MadLife at least five times, and the quality of this place—the sound, the stage, everything—is fantastic. It’s great to be close to family; they’re all able to come.” 

Baylee Littrell at MadLife Stage & Studios in Woodstock | May 1, 2024 (Photo Credit: Natalie Burkhalter/Natalie Burkhalter Photography for Enjoy Cherokee Magazine)

From the Broadway stage to opening for Backstreet Boys in venues around the world to the MadLife stage in Woodstock, country singer-songwriter Baylee Littrell continues to hone his craft. (Photo Credit: Natalie Burkhalter/Natalie Burkhalter Photography)

Baylee’s mother, Leighanne Littrell, manages and books all his shows and says, “Kerrie is amazing. She’s always reaching out to book Baylee whenever she can. I feel like we can get quality recordings here; we’ve even used one for YouTube.”

Brian Littrell at MadLife Stage & Studios in Woodstock | May 1, 2024 (Photo Credit: Natalie Burkhalter/Natalie Burkhalter Photography for Enjoy Cherokee Magazine)

Proud dad: During Baylee Littrell’s May 1 performance, his dad—Brian Littrell of the iconic Backstreet Boys—supported Baylee backstage before joining the audience to enjoy the show. (Photo Credit: Natalie Burkhalter/Natalie Burkhalter Photography)

Other artists had similar responses about the easy booking process at MadLife. Singer-songwriter Will Burke of Canton shares that he started playing gigs when he was around fifteen. “I honestly can’t remember who booked me the first time, but Greg [Shaddix] and Kerrie have been consistent about reaching out.” Will continues, “Even when I went off to college, Greg and Kerrie were great about booking me when I had time and came home.”

MadLife’s local artist development and relations liaison Greg Shaddix shares that, as far as bookings go, communication goes both ways: “Sometimes we reach out to inquire about shows, and sometimes they reach out to us.” Some artists remain on a once-a-year rotation, and Greg adds, “Sometimes my inbox looks like the wild, wild West of artists and bands wanting to play here.” Greg started as a musician playing MadLife roughly seven years ago, then transitioned from open mic host to hosting the venue’s Undiscovered Artist events and open mic nights before finally taking over booking artists for the patio.

Will Burke shares a laugh with friends backstage ahead of MadLife’s June Undiscovered Artist Showcase, a monthly spotlight on rising local musicians. | Source: Will Burke Music/Facebook

Will Burke shares a laugh with friends backstage ahead of MadLife’s June Undiscovered Artist Showcase,
a monthly spotlight on rising local musicians.

Location, Convenience, and Caring

According to Greg, artists love and appreciate MadLife’s central location to neighboring Canton, Alpharetta, Kennesaw, and Acworth areas. 

Many musicians also appreciate the supportive staff at MadLife. The staff’s ability to remember unique details about artists makes playing there a more comfortable and easy experience. When artists play, MadLife’s green room offers a comfortable area to relax pre-show, a full bathroom and shower, plus dinner and drinks. Tammy Flanagan adds, “They feed us, give us [soft] drinks; the green room is groovy, and we love it. They take such good care of their bands.”

The interviewed artists agree: in many places, venue owners act as though they’re doing the artists a favor. In contrast, at MadLife the entire staff is on the same page about creating the best possible experience for the artists.

What’s more, Greg shares that few venues offer the same capabilities for artists as MadLife. For smaller local artists, showing up without lugging extra gear is a huge benefit. “Plus, there is a built-in crowd of people coming to enjoy live music.”

Equipped for Success

One of the biggest things from a facility standpoint is that MadLife has everything needed for its artists’ high-quality video and sound coverage. The team has equipped a multi-cam live-switch video setup, making it the perfect location for professional artists to book video shoots they can use for marketing purposes. The multi-cam video capture includes live-switched high-definition video of the artists’ performances with an embedded stereo mix and remote camera feeds with a total of five high-definition cameras.

Musicians can choose between two separate mixes—a house mix or a studio mix—depending on their needs. As part of the Breaking Bands series, the band that sells the most tickets for their Breaking Bands showcase is awarded their performance video and can use it for promo kits to get future gigs. Greg adds, “If we record the show while you’re here, you can use it—there’s not another venue where you can do that.” The other participating bands are able to purchase their performance videos from the production team.

Another reason musicians prefer MadLife is its professionally installed and operated fully functional recording studio.

Baylee Littrell at MadLife Stage & Studios in Woodstock | May 1, 2024 (Photo Credit: Natalie Burkhalter/Natalie Burkhalter Photography for Enjoy Cherokee Magazine)

MadLife’s high-definition multi-cam video setup is a major draw for performers hoping to book video shoots or record their live performances during concerts. (Photo Credit: Natalie Burkhalter/Natalie Burkhalter Photography)

Stepping Stones to the Stage

Kerrie, Mike, and Greg present a variety of opportunities for musicians depending on their goals.

Many artists start at MadLife by playing open mic nights, much like Greg did. Open mic nights often lead to Undiscovered Showcase opportunities, which is particularly popular for solo artists with an acoustic guitar. A successful open mic night is often the first step toward an artist getting their own show on the bigger stage.

MadLife’s Breaking Bands series, a monthly local and regional band showcase, is a similar introduction for bands who hope to appear on the MadLife main stage. Breaking Bands events have a four-band lineup, and a successful set can lead to opportunities for a full show.

Booking the bands is a team effort for Greg and Kerrie. Greg oversees the patio shows, the Undiscovered Showcase artists, and the Breaking Bands series. Beyond those, director of booking Kerrie predominantly focuses her efforts on booking national touring artists and bands. Greg aids this process and primarily concentrates on booking mid-week shows, often making full use of his relationships and connections with local artists to book local acts.

In March local folk duo Jonathan and Abigail Peyton held their sold-out album release show at MadLife. Of that performance, Greg shares, “That Jonathan and Abby show might be my favorite night of music I’ve ever witnessed here; it was amazing. They are special. There’re songwriters, and then there’s Jonathan Peyton.” As a musician Greg also loves playing with local artists. Also in March, his band, The Back Row Baptists, played a show with Canton-based band Cody Bolden and the Roadhands.

Woodstock: A Musician-Friendly Community

One thing is for sure: Woodstock is a tight-knit community for musicians. Greg adds, “I think this community has realized that for MadLife, we do one thing really well, and that’s live music. You can also catch local musicians at Reformation Brewery, Rootstock, Stout Brothers, and more. The town just digs live music; you can walk around and hear it everywhere.”

Greg remembers his start as a musician in Atlanta, where he observed a feast-or-famine mentality among local musicians and venues. In contrast, the music scene in Woodstock is the exact opposite. “Our local artist community is very supportive, recommending each other if someone else is a good fit for an event. We’re not out here fighting each other; there’s plenty to go around.”

 

 

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