Interviewed: A tale of two bookers

In an effort to shed some light on the mysterious underworld of booking (haven't you ever wondered how those bands get from the farm– er, basement– to your plate– er, sight?) the Hook asked two members of this small group some getting-to -know-you type questions.

Venue: Tokyo Rose

Name: Mike Parisi

What type of music do you book?

 Indie rock, though that says less about the bands' sounds than the economics involved: Relatively obscure bands on independent labels (or no label at all) usually aren't at the level where they support themselves solely through their music. Many local bands as well. Technically we don't book punk bands anymore (or goth or hip-hop) because of problems the venue had with a small portion of those types of bands' audience, but I myself have yet to decline having a band strictly because of its genre.

Sum up music at your venue in a word.

 Uh, I just did this in the first question using a lot of words. Asparagus.

This is a large college town. Why don't we get many national touring acts in nowadays? (Many kids go to DC to see groups.)

Is Charlottesville as big, either population- or geographics-wise, as Athens (238th in the nation)? Chapel Hill (61st)? At 45,049, Charlottesville isn't among the top 600, and Richmond is 93rd.

We DO get nationally-touring acts here, at least from my indie rock perspective. Unfortunately, there are few bands around like Superchunk to play the Rose– popular enough to draw a sell-out, small enough to justify a cover charge as small as we charge.

Do you stick to local acts or try for national ones? What's the deciding factor in getting bigger name bands?

 We book local and national acts, though "regional" more often applies– bands based on the East Coast, or at least East of the Mississippi. In any situation, the criteria are Will this band draw people? Are there enough people in town who already know this band and who are willing to pay to see them? Will the club be able to bring in enough money to make it worth the band's while to play here (or pay their guaranteed fee)?

Is this band good? comes in last, at least as far as my own taste is concerned. I've learned to put bands that I think are great lower on the bill, in a position to benefit from the draw of a more well-known band.

What type of music do you listen to?

Favorites: Nirvana, the Jam, the Smiths, Blur, Fugazi, Black Lipstick, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Rapture, Led Zeppelin, Pretty Girls Make Graves, Joy Division

Lately: early Tom Petty, Danger Mouse, Jay-Z, the Darkness, Sluts of Trust, Joanna Newsome, PJ Harvey, Roxy Music, Usher, Kanye West

What type of music do you despise?

Despise is strong word. There's lots of boring music out there. I don't have time for most contemporary country music. Hating music is hard, because somebody (often lots of somebodies) loves any given act, and it's hard to begrudge someone their pleasure in that if it makes them happy.

Do you get paid?


Why is it so hard for new acts to break into the venue scene around here?

It's hard for me to see the point of this question if you don't name names. It might seem hard to a given band, as it probably should be. Like the nation as a whole, or any town anywhere, in any era, there's lots of bad music here. A band could be good, or good for a certain venue, but not for ours.


Is the power you wield corrupting you?



Venue: Rapunzel's Coffee and Books

Name: Sally Taylor

What type of music do you book?

Any music that can be played acoustically.

Sum up the music at your venue in a word.

Living room

This is a large college town– why don't we get many touring national acts in nowadays?

Too many contract obligations with the recording companies. Promo, production, and other managers, booking agents, and the major venues that book them– by the time everyone gets their piece of the pie, it takes a football stadium to pay the band.

Do you stick to local acts or try for national ones? What's the deciding factor in getting big name bands?

I book both– that's why we don't book too far in advance. We like to leave room for touring groups to fit into the schedule as they pass through the area. If you haven't been lucky enough to enjoy the performance of a musical giant in a small bar/coffeehouse, then you've at least heard the stories. In these small venues (like Rapunzel's, where the seating is limited) these shows are not publicized.

What type of music do you listen to?

Just both types– the good music that's really bad, and the bad music that's actually good– but you have to know how to listen.

What type of music do you despise?

Out of tune and off key– especially both at the same time... all the time... every song... this guy sent me this demo... his name was Bob Dylan.

Do you get paid?

If I do the booking, they let me run the sound.

Why is it so hard for new acts to break into the venue scene around here?

That could be just a C'ville thing. Rapunzel's has staged 15 new acts since January 2004. But I think audiences come to see people they know, and few will brave new waters.

Do you ever feel the power you wield is corrupting you?

Did you say I have power? And that– at 54– I'm not corrupted yet? Gee...

Mike Parisi

Sally Taylor