Local music venue a hub for personal, passionate performances

The Trunk Space has hosted well-known artists, such as Matt & Kim and Kimya Dawson as well as unsigned bands like Hello the Mind Control. (Evie Carpenter/DD)

Nestled on a street corner and practically unrecognizable, save for the two-foot-tall, handmade sign near its camouflaged door, the Trunk Space is a widely anonymous gem in downtown Phoenix.

Despite its obscurity, the music venue is one of several downtown businesses that boast local musicians. What differentiates the Trunk Space from its musical relatives is the absence of alcohol.

The Trunk Space, located near Fifteenth and Grand avenues, is available to all ages.

Rather than serving drinks that could exceed $10, the venue sells inexpensive root beer in its glass bottles.

Originally, the Trunk Space was run by three owners –- JRC, Stephanie Carrico and Scott Sanders.

Sanders left the Trunk Space to open a larger downtown venue, The Paper Heart, which had shows every few nights and served alcohol to of-age customers. The Paper Heart was unsuccessful and closed shortly after opening, while the Trunk Space continued to thrive.

Consisting of only one room, the walls are adorned with abstract and modern art produced by Valley natives, and guitar cases speckle the sides of the coffeehouse-sized space.

Signed artists Kimya Dawson and Matt & Kim, as well as unsigned artists such as Hello the Mind Control and Jelly Brains are not only patrons but have performed on the Trunk Space stage. Humble, the only differentiation between the stage and the rest of the room is its six-inch rise from the floor.

“It’s a passionate space that brings a lot of good music,” Daryl Scherer said, a regular patron and performer. “You get to know the artists.”

The veil that often divides the viewer from the performer is non-existent. Artists lug their instruments through the only door and in between sets, performers often meander amongst the visitors, chatting about the night’s performances.

St. St., an acoustic duo from Tucson, recently performed at Trunk Space but forewent the stage and set up chairs among members of the audience. Sitting cross-legged on the floor, listeners were immersed in the raw quality of vocalist Julia DeConcini’s voice.

“We only book people we like!” co-owner JRC said with a laugh.

The quality of the shows are of utmost importance to the owners, Carrico said. The quaint setting was designed to enjoy talent, both new and unheard of, as well as more popular artists.

You are Plural, a duo from Olympia, Wash., followed St. St.’s performance and also played off the stage. The unlikely combination of keyboard and cello created a methodical but techno-edgy ambiance.

“Phoenix has wonderful sunsets and really big burritos,” said Jen Grady, cellist and vocalist for You are Plural. “We’re glad to be here.”

Eclectic and open, the Trunk Space hosts up to four artists a night, five to six days a week.

In its 11th years of business, the venue has had many memorable performances.

“We had a hippie, Jason Webley perform. He was wearing a monkey mask and played the accordion. By the end of the night, he had the entire building arm-in-arm, singing show tunes,” Carrico reminisced. “Each night is an adventure.”

Contact the reporter at brittany.morris@asu.edu


  1. I love this place and I love Jason Webley!

    In regards to its 11 years of business, are you counting its time with the Paper Heart on Van Buren? It’s only been on Grand for seven years.

  2. Just to clarify: we were originally partnered w/ Scott Sanders at the original Paper Heart on 5th Ave & Van Buren (not the other way around), and when he started the larger PH space a year later, we went and formed The Trunk Space. We’ve been open 7.5 years now, but promoting art/live shows in AZ for oer a decade now!

    Sorry for the confusion, w/ both Steph and I explaining things, I think the info got a little jumbled.

    Regardless, this piece does a great job of capturing the spirit of what we care about and the way we look at things in our town.