In the trippy 2001 film Donnie Darko, a school teacher remarks that "a famous linguist once said that of all the phrases in the English language, of all the endless combinations of words in all of history, that 'cellar door' is the most beautiful."
A year after that cult film, which featured a sinister bunny that predicts the end of the world and a really good music soundtrack, Justin Markert borrowed the phrase Cellar Door for his small Madison, Ohio, coffee shop. The 135-capacity room was a space for artists, too. Markert booked music acts ranging from acoustic singer-songwriters to hardcore bands. Along the way, he released a compilation featuring music from acts that played there.
The coffee shop ultimately closed, but in 2007 Markert regrouped with his former business partner, Rick Fike, to create Cellar Door Records as a way to draw attention to musicians such as the ones who played at the coffee shop. Soon after, they released Cellar Door Records Volume II. Since then, the label has released five full-length albums from artists on its roster and promoted a number of shows at local venues.
Another show arrives this Friday, March 18 at the Grog Shop (8 p.m.) to coincide with the release of Cellar Door Records Volume III. Joshua Jesty & Band, Humble Home, Rob Geer & Band and Frozen Hellsicles — four artists featured on the new compilation — will perform. It's also Markert's birthday, so stop by and say hello. The $10 admission includes a Cellar Door Records Volume III CD.