Clinton Magazine Spring 2022 - Page 14

Byam was shocked by what she came back to find . After having gotten used to the wallto-wall establishments of Nashville and the constant energy of the city because of them , she couldn ’ t believe it when she was told in Iowa that there was nothing to go out and do and no bands playing at night . Riverboat Days , which she ’ d used to love , had been gone for a few years by then .
She says , “ I came back here and noticed we don ’ t have the options in our town anymore .”
So she decided to do something about it .
“ I used to go around with my parents to the supper clubs that used to exist here ,” Byam remembers , “ like back in the 80s and 90s , and I always loved that atmosphere . I loved that you could go out , have dinner , socialize , listen to music , dance , you know , and they ’ re still , like , a respectable establishment .” Inspired by these memories , Byam created The Living Room . Located on Seventh Avenue South , people “ came out of the woodwork ” for it .
Byam , wanting to change downtown Clinton even more , then bought the building that would become “ The V ’ ue ,” which is a conjunction for the word “ venue .” Its name is appropriate for a few other reasons , too . “ It ’ s a whole play on words thing ,” she says . “ So , it ’ s ‘ v ’ ue ’ for ‘ venue ,’ and then you come here to ‘ view ’ what ’ s on the stage for the entertainment , and then , on top of that , it ’ s a three-story building downtown , right along the Mississippi River , and when you go upstairs , it ’ s like ‘ whoa , what a view .’”
Byam has done all the work on the place herself . “ I haven ’ t hired anything done ,” she says . The only exceptions were times when her family would lend a hand , or attempt to anyway . “ They had a wine-painting party and helped me paint the ceiling tiles , but they got so drunk I had to repaint them !” Byam laughs . “ They did a horrible job .”
When asked if “ The V ’ ue ” has been living up to her dreams of transforming the area , she responds , “ Yeah ,” with little conviction . “ It was slow because I bought this place , like , right when they shut down the world ,” she says , referring to the Covid pandemic . Business has been picking up though . Just recently , four comedians from Illinois performed a sold-out show . Comedic acts aren ’ t often found in Clinton , so it was an exciting event . The next comedy show coming up has already sold out . In addition , available dates for musicians , bands , and singers to perform are filling up .
“ The V ’ ue ” is a BYOB establishment . “ I want people to come here for the entertainment ,” Byam says . She
A full house watches a recent performance at The V ’ ue .
doesn ’ t want it to be an element in the background as it often is at other places , but instead wants entertainment to be the focus of the experience there . People are welcome to have conversations and socialize , of course , but it isn ’ t a place for people to expect to get wild .
Everyone is welcome to eat , too . “ The V ’ ue ” offers snacks like charcuterie boards or mini cheesecakes , but people can also order out . “ Majita ’ s ” is a restaurant right across the street that will deliver Mexican food without charging a delivery fee . Anything that is ordered from another place gets intercepted by someone at the door and brought right to your table for you .
“ The V ’ ue ” doubles as a recording studio , too . Byam ’ s next album , though , which is scheduled to release March 3 , was recorded back in Nashville . Titled “ Circus ,” the album is made up completely of originals and features “ Cowboy ” Eddie Long , a steel guitar player Byam formed a friendship with while in Tennessee , on five of those songs . Byam has trouble classifying the genre the album might fall into but describes its influences as being “ all over the place .”
Things are going well for Byam in Clinton , but she still thinks about Nashville every day . Whenever she makes the trip back , it feels like she ’ s heading home again .
Even so , Byam plans to remain in Iowa .
“ If you ’ re going to live anywhere in Iowa , I suppose Clinton is the place to live because it is a beautiful spot ,” Byam says . “ I have two downtown buildings now . I have this , I have the Living Room , and I ’ m just excited really to see this grow .” C
14 Clinton Magazine Spring 2022