Local music venue promoters on the search for the best talent they can find (and afford)
No one can deny that talent is the cornerstone of a great music scene, but it takes more than talent alone. Many a great band can attest that no matter how clever, innovative or original you may be, it doesn’t mean much without good venues, willing promoters, and an audience that actually cares enough to go see live music.
Chattanooga is fortunate to have some excellent venues (could always use more of course) and the crowds here that were so notoriously fickle in the nineties have slowly but surely grown in to one that is enthusiastically supportive. That just leaves the promoters, the people who go out and find the talent.
That’s a tough row to hoe. Every bid to bring in a band is a gamble with the club’s money. Too many misses and you find yourself quickly and unceremoniously unemployed. Coffee is for closers, after all. Predicting what an audience may like requires immersing yourself in the scene further than most, and it goes without saying that if you aren’t passionate about what you do, if you’re only in it to make a buck, you aren’t going to make it far or for very long.
There are the big name acts, of course, a sure thing you can (almost) bank on, but their reputation comes at a premium. They are expensive to book and necessitate a capacity crowd just to make your money back, much less turn a profit. A bit of bad weather, a competing event…hell, midterms, final or work on Monday are all factors that can make or break you with the heavy hitters.
Then of course, there’s the talent that is, shall we say, economical. You absolutely can find some gems there, great bands that are still in the early stages of building their reputations and how satisfying it must be not only to find a talented bargain, but to know that you helped along a band that is going to be big one of these days.
Unfortunately, buying talent at this level is akin to running through the yard of your neighbor who has six big dogs with high-protein diets. It is a minefield of doggy-bombs waiting to be stepped in and tracked back in to the house.
Best of all is that sweet-spot where bands are on the cusp of being a big damn deal. They’ve paid a lot of dues, developed a great act, and are on their way, but still affordable and essentially, the best bang for the buck. The best promoters have a knack for finding these bands and Chattanooga has more than a few who have developed that reputation. John over at JJ’s is a great example.
Another is Drew Cooper, the talent buyer at Clyde’s On Main who got an unsolicited shout-out in this column several months back after I reviewed a string of incredibly talented bands that came through Clyde’s. So, in my best Farnsworthian voice, “Good news everybody.”
Drew is the new talent buyer at Revelry Room, a venue already known for great shows. This is a very good match, ladies and gentleman, a smart match. Drew’s commitment to scouting out the best and brightest rising stars is certain to raise the bar at a venue whose bar is already impressively high.
Best of luck Drew, and I know plenty of people are looking forward to seeing what you do next.