George Fuller and Maylee Thomas said their new concert space The Sanctuary is the result of a dream the two have had long before they first opened their music store in McKinney. They didn't just want to build a stage where musicians could play. They wanted to create a place where musicians and music lovers could both feel comfortable in a space made just for them.
"This is the result of years of dreaming about it, thinking about it and planning it, Fuller said, "and it's finally come to fruition."
The new venue, located in the city's Adriatica Village, is a new concert space attached to The Guitar Sanctuary, a music instrument shop and school that has been part of the Croatian-inspired village almost since its groundbreaking. The Sanctuary will serve as a multipurpose space that can be used for almost any large gathering such as wedding receptions and private parties but Fuller and Thomas' main goal is to use it for live music starting with Saturday's grand opening show featuring performances by Paul Reed Smith, Ian Moore and David Grissom.
The Sanctuary in McKinney isn't just a random, cool sounding name for a space where musicians can set up their instruments and pound out some songs on stage. It feels like you're walking into a church dedicated to praising the gods of live music. The 300-seat space is a two-tiered performance hall with a stage in one corner surrounded by walls of crooked cobblestone much like the buildings and roads that surround the concert hall. Rows of chairs decorated with a light touch of gold trim give the music faithful a place to sit when they aren't on their feet praising the band on stage. They even have a set of red, stained glass windows on the wall farthest from the entrance.
Fuller and Thomas said they designed The Sanctuary to accommodate the performers' needs as well as its patronage.
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"As performers and having performed through this region and others for many, many years, it's rare that we would play a venue that really caters to the musician and is comfortable to the musician," Fuller said. "We just felt that we could build one as musicians and knew what people look for and what was missing and create an environment that's great for the patron and listener but also for the person performing."
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The space isn't so massive that it ruins the kind of smaller, more intimate music experience that all die-hard fans crave, Thomas said.
"I've jumped out of that idea of going to the huge concert hall to see artists," Thomas said. "I like a smaller environment. I can remember when the yoga place would open up and you'd pay $100 to see Bob Schneider in a teeny, tiny little room. I think this room, even though it's bigger than what we expected, is still small and intimate compared to a lot of venues that artists play in and people would be willing to pay a little bit more to see someone in a more intimate setting and be right there to experience what they do."
Fuller said he's got big plans for shows for his new stage. Plans are already in the works to bring some national acts to the new performance space such as Andy Timmons on Dec. 6. Fuller said he's also talking with Billy Falcon, blues musician Robert Cray and Peter Frampton drummer Dan Wojciechowski to perform at The Sanctuary.
"By God, I'm determined to get Peter Frampton in here to do a sit-down dinner and show," Fuller said. "We've actually already talked about it. We have set our sights high in that regard but at the same time, we're never losing sight of why we built this to begin with."