I think the addiction started in 2004…to music and buying CDs, of course. When I was about 10 years old I would save up money from chores, mowing lawns, and holidays to buy CDs. I would dig through the used CD bin in the mall and try to find something I had vaguely heard about or had been dying to listen to. My dad and I split a membership for a CD club. We’d each get about 5-6 per month.
When I would listen to music I would do just that: listen. I saved up money for a decent surround-sound system to sit in my room and listen to music. Switchfoot, AFI, Linkin Park, Blink-182, Good Charlotte, and Yellowcard led to finding out about the bands in their liner notes like Copeland, the Maine, Lagwagon, and Saosin. The dream from then on was to be involved in music forever.
I went to my first local show ever when I was 15. Jaxx Nightclub Virginia was lodged in a shopping center, full of cigarette smoke and band stickers. I had never been anywhere so amazing. While our group was outside waiting for our friends to take the stage, I was inside with my soda and fries, watching every single band… and buying each band’s CD. I was so amazed that there were bands so great, undiscovered right in my backyard.
I loved how live rock bands sounded; the guitars seemed to sizzle more than on the CD; the drums seemed to crack just a little more; there were always smiles on peoples’ faces; and I would always leave feeling like I had left all my worries behind. I planned my first concert the next year at age 16, and then again at 17.
I played at Jaxx in 2009 and booked small DIY shows in parks and community centers from that time until about 2012. In 2012 I booked my first show at Empire, whose new ownership made noticeable improvements from Jaxx.
I saw a company run by young, hungry industry guys who were dead-set on making their own stamp on the business.
In the summer of 2013 I became the assistant of the main talent buyer. I booked bands during the day, worked event staff at night, and learned how to do every single job in the venue at one point or another. Since then, I have booked easily over 100 bands, helped out at or worked 100 shows, and met many amazing people. I’ve worked with some of the bands I used to idolize, and have been backstage to shows my 16-year-old self would only be able to dream of.
This year would have been the year I jumped on full-time at Empire. Learning of its closing initially was crushing. However, instead of giving up, I have started a new venture with the same team who brought all the great shows to Empire in hopes of continuing them at other venues.
It’s strange telling people who know of my education degree “I’m pursuing music”, but I believe in myself and my team and will succeed.
One thing that I have learned in all of this is that there will always be frustrations, pressure, stress, and failures.
The two important things are to:
In doing what you love, these two things become possible, creating a force impossible to stop.