There is an unsung hero in the shadows of the music community. A person often behind the scenes, working tireless hours, listening to countless demos, and somehow pulling together great music for us to soak up at many different clubs on any night of the week. I often hear people complain about “how the booking agent didn’t get back to me?” or “this person only books their friends at this club”. I hate to say it, but you sir or madam are wrong in most cases. I do not envy the job that booking agents at the finest clubs in town take on. It’s tough, you have to make really hard decisions, make some folks not feel great, and its extremely thankless the majority of the time. The below folks are just a few of the many people around town in particular, but also throughout the Northeast, the country, and the world that we should all be thankful for on a regular basis
Billy Beard (Toad and Lizard Lounge). The man books not one, but two of the most sought after venues to play in the city. One of which is a FREE club, 7 nights a week, with absolutely incredible music. The club needs to survive on patrons being in the door drinking and eating, so great music that keeps the people inside is paramount to this all working. Do you get hundreds of emails a day asking to play music at your clubs? Didn’t think so. On top of it, the dude plays with like 13 bands, tours, and has a family. Juggling, straight juggling.
Randi Millman (Atwoods). Randi has been at it for years booking clubs all over town…TT’s, Johnny D’s, and now Atwoods. The Tavern has always been a great place for residencies and local music, but Ms. Millman has taken the booking at the club to an entirely new level in her short tenure there thus far. Not only are the great local residencies going strong, but many of my Nashville pals have made this a ‘must book’ stop on their tours through town.
Matt Smith (Club Passim). I think I read a statistic that Matt booked something like 400 shows last year at Passim…400! There’s only 365 days in there year, now that’s impressive. What’s different and special about Passim is that its one of the few “listening rooms” around town as opposed to a bar. People go to other places to listen to music and have a beer with friends, people really just go to Passim to listen to music. We need this space and I am forever in Smith’s debt for keeping it going with great music.
Raymond Brady (Paradise Cafe) and Dianne MacAdam (Stoughton House of Brews). What is most tough about these two clubs are the geography to the city. Stoughton and Dedham aren’t exactly on the map as hotbeds of local music, it is admittedly a hard location to draw and even harder to book music for multiple nights a week. Somehow both Ray and Dianne are able to bring in great musicians to their clubs to audiences that are welcoming. Plus both places are comfy, inviting and warm. They are a rarity in a landscape riddled with dives and smelly clubs. I have played both the Paradise and the HoB and can attest that the folks working there are amazing, accomdating and the rooms are great places to play. Plus both of these bookers are incredibly supportive and positive about getting good music heard.
Jim Seery (Plough and Stars). Booking and cooking. Not only does Jim book the music at the Plough, but he is also the chef, and his food is really f’ing good. I am not sure if anyone out there has worked in a kitchen, I did as a sous chef for a number of years and its tough. The hours are long, on your feet for 8 hours straight over a hot grill top or burners. Some how the quality of both the food and the music at the Plough remain top notch…and Jim is certainly to thank for both those things.
So next time you get frustrated with trying to book the gig, remember, booking agents get a hundred other similar emails a day to play their club. Go out to a show at the venue you want to book (if it’s possible) and introduce yourself while handing them a CD. Come up with a great proposal for a show and full bill or residency so that the booker has a bit less stress. Engage more than an email title of “Book X Band at X Venue” or saying “we are wicked f***in’ awesome rock n’ rollers”. I’m not going to hire you to paint my house just because you can color inside the lines, give them a real reason to hire you to play their club. Or here is a real crazy thought, help spread the word of the venue and shows at it before booking there. People take notice of those things and will appreciate it.
Keep on keepin’ on!