Detour Deli owner talks importance, difficulties, of helping bring Wilmington arts scene to light

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(Allister Synder at Alt-Zalea Fest 2016. Photo Courtesy Anna Mann.)
Allister Synder at Alt-Zalea Fest 2016. (Photo Courtesy Anna Mann.)

WILMINGTON — The Northside neighborhood of downtown Wilmington needed a good sandwich place, but Allister Snyder thought it could use a little rock’n’roll, too.

Synder opened Detour Deli & Cafe two years ago, naming his sandwich shop after the detour customers would have to take from the well-trod streets of downtown.  Synder hoped to lead Wilmingtonians into the burgeoning Brooklyn Arts District, many for the first time. From the beginning he wanted his place to be more than just a delicatessen.

“There is a huge amount of talent in this town, and in this neighborhood,” Snyder said. But he also pointed out that much of that local talent was having a heard time connecting with the larger Wilmington community. To help bridge that gap, Snyder began hosting a concert series at Detour Deli & Cafe. The shows mixed local visual artists and local original music, a contrast to the popularity of the cover bands that perform well-known Top 40 hits at many establishments around Wilmington.

Snyder was excited about the opportunity to connect different groups for the local scene, “at the shows, you get some people coming for the art, and some for the music.” Synder’s hope was to help bridge the different parts of the local arts scene.

Despite the good turnout, Snyder felt the shows alone were not enough.

cds
Top: Some of the CDs Snyder has helped distribute. Bottom: Detour Deli’s Compilation Album. (Photos Benjamin Schachtman)

“I don’t sell alcohol at Detour, so it was difficult to reimburse bands for their time with anything besides a sandwich and maybe a T-shirt,” Synder said. He was concerned that talented musicians were not being properly respected.

“These were people who took things seriously, lugged a lot of heavy equipment, expensive equipment. many bands put a lot of effort into making music and then didn’t know what to do,” Snyder said. “They’d give it away at shows, or just put it on the Internet. But giving them a place to actually sell a physical album is important. It’s psychological. If you just give it away people tend to undervalue your efforts. Why would someone value something that you, yourself, do not value? If you are serious, then your work has value and you price it, so others will also take it seriously.”

Snyder’s next move was to help local bands with the process of releasing music. He offered to fund the printing and packaging of CDs for local bands, groups that had recorded original music but lacked the budget to release it. While Snyder would give away some of the CDs as promotional gifts through Detour Deli & Cafe, the remaining CDs would be available for sale, with all the profits going to the band.

Snyder has also loaned out his personal 8-track to help bands without the money or access to expensive recording equipment.

Snyder admits the demands of running a business often leaves little time or energy for community involvement. But he remains committed to the neighborhood and Wilmington, especially the arts.

“It’s important to me,” said Snyder. “It’s part of my everyday life, listening to music at work.” As a young man living in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Snyder was not fortunate enough to have a local music scene. He would often drive as far a Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins, CO, to see shows. That early love of music  has matured into a more cultural appreciation.

For information on upcoming events at Detour Deli, visit their Facebook page (and follow them on Instagram to see their daily specials). For a closer look at what Snyder is doing for local musicians, visit Detour Deli at 510 1/2 Red Cross Street in downtown Wilmington and check out his collection of EPs and albums, as well as Detour Deli’s compilation album of local bands.

 

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