One Long Weekend
So the New Years Art Show I hosted took place last Friday. I meant to create a post focused on my thoughts and reflections from it on Sunday, but I was hit with one of the worst flu bugs that has ever hit me in over 10 years around 4am on Sunday morning. Today, it was a huge life achievement that I was able to open and close the brown sugar container on my own, and I just went up and down the stairs of my home 6 times in the last 5 minutes gathering items for laundry and disposing of all the snotty tissues that had accumulated around the floor on my side of the bed.
Normally, when I get sick, it’s hard for me to throw in the towel and admit defeat without at the very least, trying to accomplish something. When I woke up Sunday Morning, riddled with fever, I didn’t even bother to try. I was burning up and delirious. At one point, Dan said that if my fever would not break, he would be taking me to the hospital. Thankfully, around 8:30pm, the first fever broke, and the one that followed was not nearly as bad and broke much more quickly.
So anyway…I’ve been sick, and life got put on hold a few days…now it’s Wednesday, I’m behind on everything, but just got an extension on my time home, since tour is not starting officially until February 12th, and I won’t be leaving until the 10th or 11th now. Lose 4 days, and gain 2 weeks…not so bad.
So while this update, I feel, is beyond overdue…better late than never.
This last Friday I put on an event called “New Years Art Party”. It took place at an all ages club that opened up under the name of Chubacabra Cafe a couple months ago, not long after I booked the show, they changed their name to “The Last Stand”. The image used for the flier is actually the first painting I’ve completed in over 5 or 6 years.
BOOKING THE SHOW
I had gone to see a show that Chuck Gosk had put together about a week or two after the place opened. My husband’s bluegrass band, Molotov Colostomy was on the bill, and with the club only being half a mile from my house, it wasn’t hard to pull myself away from work long enough to check out some new bands and a new venue that I was lead to believe was going to be a cool place for kids to see live music.
Due to the hectic nature of my schedule, I had been looking for a venue to host my art show at outside of Hotel Baker. After meeting with Lonnie Reed(the owner of the club), and listening to his vision and what Chuck had said about the place, I decided it would be a good place to host it at. The location wouldn’t be hard for folks to find since it was close to Hotel Baker, it would be a good way to introduce people I know from the music community to a new venue, and the space was huge, so I would be able to involve more artists and have louder bands that my home is just too small to accommodate. A date was placed on hold, and I told Lonnie I’d contact him before the end of the week to confirm on the day, and then I went to work.
After having 3 bands locked in for sure, I confirmed with Lonnie that I would be moving forward with the show, he said, “sounds great”, and I continued to work. The first night I spoke with him about this show was in mid November. The original agreement was that I would have the venue at my disposal to do whatever I liked with. I told him about the art in both rooms, DJ in one room, and bands in the other…he told me he prefers to have a bill with 5 bands on the bill…specifically 3 locals and 2 out of towners to mix it up and so the draw is good, but yeah, whatever I wanted to do was fine. He informed me that since the club was strictly all ages, they do a 50/50 door split of whatever comes in and asked me what I expected for a draw. I told him the last time I did a show like this, it pulled in over 100 people throughout the course of the evening at a house show, and he said, “excellent, that sounds great!”. I agreed to the 50/50 door split since they were just starting out, and since they didn’t really have anything to sell outside of t-shirts.
As I continued working on the show, I kept him informed with any new updates related to the show. He had agreed to give me a dedicated door person, and I asked if I could bring in my own sound guy…every little detail I shared with him. I was late on getting fliers to him, but I still kept him informed, and he said, “Yes, I saw the facebook event, I know you’re on top of everything, and I’m not worried about it at all. You’re good.”
A minor point, but also before all of this, I had asked him exactly when the club would be open so I could get the artists in to set up the gallery portion of it before the public would arrive, and he said “I’m here every day at 1pm.” I said great, so is it cool if I have the artists come in between 1 and 4pm to set up, and he said, yeah…that’s great.”
Overall, the makings of a potentially wonderful evening. Great communication between promoter and club owner…solid plan, booked about a month and a half before the show.
WHAT THIS SHOW MEANS TO ME
Now for anyone who’s just joining us here inside my head and the world that creates Zebrana Bastard…the parties I throw mean a lot to me. I’ve been involved in the music world since I was 14 years old, ran a couple venues, among a grip of other shit, plus I’ve been putting on extremely successful house shows inside of my home we’ve dubbed as “Hotel Baker” for the last 5 years. Especially over the last few years here, when I’ve spent more time on the road then at home, the parties I throw are a bit more focused and deliberate than they used to be. I have a limited amount of time to spend with the people I love even when I’m home, as I usually spend a lot of time working my ass off, preparing for a new tour and working on my business. For example, I just got home September 17th, and the next tour has me out 7-8 months, which I leave for in about month, give or take a few days. Time is more precious to me than gold or money. One on one encounters are nearly impossible, so I throw parties so I don’t lose touch with who I am or my friends.
The ART PARTY has been a new addition to the types of parties I throw, after becoming sober and deciding to share my heart with the people I love. It’s a show that allows me an outlet to let people in, something that is very hard for me to do. In the same vein, I invite others to share their stories in an odd way. The artists and musicians are hand picked, all different from each other, but similar in the passion that exudes from their art. A lot of the folks I invite out normally wouldn’t go out looking for a show or gallery to submit their art too either from a lack of confidence, or maybe the thought just never crossed their mind, or other reasons people come up with to hide their hearts from the world.
It has been hard for me to get out my artwork and my music, and I want people to see that if I can do it, they can too, so by creating these shows the way I do, we build strength together and it’s a safe way to share and to be and to grow and to learn from one another.
With my confidence up a bit more than it has been, I was willing to bring in other acts I was not familiar with and artists I was not familiar with, and to use a new venue I was not familiar with in an attempt to grow and expand, as I feel it’s important…so I asked others for suggestions of bands and what not as well.
Many of the bands and artists I had contacted could not make the show, as they had other plans and I was fine, as I still had enough to create a good show and accomplish what I try to do with this show. I had 5 bands booked, 4 played. I had 10 artists originally confirmed, and when all was said and done, 8 media artists shared their work, including myself.
DAY OF SHOW
I arrive at 1:16pm with Erik(an artist) and Madeline from the project ‘Machine’ in tow, ready to start setting up. Lonnie is completely shocked and surprised that we are there and he says, “I thought this was a show, show, I didn’t expect you to be here until much later.” I look at the flier on the wall, the flier he had approved and looked at, and I said, “no, we had already discussed this, I told you it was an art gallery and a show.” He is adamant that I need to come back later, and I say, “okay, but I have other artists expecting to set up their artwork between 1 and 4pm today that will be showing up.” and he says, “No, they’ll be calling you, because the place is going to be locked up, I have to clean up, and need a few hours.” I remind him that doors are supposed to open at 5pm, for the art gallery portion, and he says, “well I need at least an hour.” I say okay, and while it feels a little off, I figure it’s still something I can work with. We leave, and I proceed with running other errands also related to the show. While running errands, I get a call from my sound guy that he can’t make it out, I take a deep breath…no big deal…worse case scenario, the club has a sound guy if I can’t find anyone last minute.
We come back at 3, and set up commences without a hitch…I speak to the sound guy there, he says it’s fine, he doesn’t mind running sound for the show. Then someone related to the show mentions something to me about running late or something, and I say, “no worries, I have to push the show back an hour anyway, because 2 of the bands can’t be here until 8:30, 9 anyway. Then Lonnie looks at me and says, “no, that won’t work, I had an EDM show coming, and you guys need to be out by 10 tonight.”
The show has been booked for a month and a half, and this is the first I’ve heard of a double booking. I looked at him, “Lonnie, there’s 5 bands on the bill, it’s a full show.” He says, “this is the first I’ve heard of 5 bands, I thought you only had 3.” I shook my head, “you’re the one who told me to book 5 bands, you saw the flier, there’s 5 bands listed on the flier, you said everything was okay.” He starts thinking quick and talking quick, and runs his hand through his hair, “um okay…we can probably push the EDM show back to 11 or 12, I’m sure we can make it work, we’ll see how it goes.”
I kept my cool, I stayed professional, but by this point, I was stressed. At that moment, it was around 4, 4:30, my DJ was setup, the art was hung, and I was trying to do some quick thinking myself. A last minute show at my house wouldn’t work. Dan was still sick, the house was a mess, and I hadn’t spoken to my neighbors or anything. I couldn’t think of any other last minute venues, and with doors supposed to open at 5, there was really no where I could move the show to. With Lonnie willing to push the double booked show back, I figured alright, this isn’t what the plan was, but I can work with it.
Instead of an open gallery setting, it was clear no one in the staff really cared about the art show, and as the night progressed, they talked more and more about their excitement surrounding the EDM show, and I assumed by that point that Lonnie had done nothing to help promote my show, as he had said he would. I also did not see Lonnie the rest of the time until my show was over. I felt like everything I had put into this show was a joke to them.
Rat Bros. took the stage at 7. He was allowed to play as long as he wanted, and was encouraged to play more songs. Immediately following I had the sound guy demanding I get another act on ASAP, it was 7:32. He says, “we got for more acts and an EDM show at 10, keep it moving.”
In a normal setting, it would make sense that I would headline, so all the acts get a chance to be seen by the folks who came out to see me. At this point, the only acts in the building were Machine and my project, Zebrana Bastard. So I grabbed Madeline and asked her what she wanted to do, she agreed to play after me, so I went on second. No matter how quickly anyone set up or tore down, it wasn’t fast enough, and it’s not like any of the bands performing had never played a show before. I was upset and my hands were tied, so I tried to make the best of a shitty situation that was growing shittier for me by the minute. I grabbed my drummer and had her setting up while I tried to have someone contact Cake ‘N Bowls for me. Again, I was reminded by the sound guy that I needed to hurry up and start, so the text got sent to Cake ‘N Bowls, and I started my set before my drummer had her kit fully set up yet. Again, it’s not even 7:45 yet, for an event where the music portion begins at 7pm.
It was after my 5th song, and I started speaking to the crowd, I’m in mid sentence, and the sound guy approaches me from the front of the stage, and abruptly cuts me off, audibly for folks at the back of the room to hear that I am out of of time, I need to pack up my gear and get off stage, as he has 3 more bands he needs to get on and done with so we can all be out by 9pm when the DJ’s get there for the EDM show. It’s said just like that, it’s cold and mechanic. It’s loud, not yelling, but loud. My phone is dead, and I have no way of contacting Not From Brooklyn, a band from Seattle, who is also supposed to play this show. I take a deep breath, and I say okay, then I step up to the mic, and as calmly as I can, I say, “is anyone down for moving this as an acoustic show to Hotel Baker, where it should’ve been in the first place?” Folks agree and start pulling art down as I start tearing down my gear. Some folks have already left, because the situation is uncomfortable. Chuck approaches me and asks if he should contact Not From Brooklyn for me, I say “yes please”, then I look up and see Tim, the guitarist from Cake ‘N Bowls, and my heart falls, because it means they didn’t get the text. I hug him, he asks what’s going on. I say “I’ll tell you when I’m done tearing down gear.”
Madeline starts setting up on the floor, and she says she’ll go ahead and play while everything gets torn down and give me a chance to set up things at the house. I inform Cake ‘N Bowls of the situation, and Elvis shares he didn’t get the text until they were a few blocks away from the club. Sound guy comes out the back door, and again, rush, rush rush….”I have 3 bands I gotta get on and done with, so I can give you guys 20 minutes sets if you want, decide right now.” It’s barely 8pm. The only way we could’ve have moved the show any faster is if the super hero, Flash, was a stage hand and knew how to perfectly dial everyone’s sound in. Cake and Bowls agreed to 20 minutes, and Madeline was already preparing to play, I told sound guy the 5th band would not be showing up, he says, “oh, okay, good…that makes things easier.” then he heads inside.
I’m not sure how the logistics will work for things at home, but at this point all I want is to be done with this place and these people.
Madeline performs, while Cake ‘N Bowls sets up in the dark. She is also rudely and abruptly cut off and rushed to get her gear tore down. Cake and bowls plays, they at least got told that the next song would be their last song instead of being abruptly cut off, but as they are tearing down gear and moving it, they are getting told they need to tear down gear and get it out. I’m holding one end of Madeline’s 300lb piano and getting it moved out the door when the sound guy gets in my face and tells me I need to get everything moved out the door right away, as there’s a bunch of raver kids hanging around outside they need to get inside. I looked at him and spoke, “clearly, everyone is doing everything they can to get everything moved out quickly as we can, I wouldn’t want to spend a second in here longer than I’d have to.” he says, “oh, okay, good.”
The last of the gear is moved out, thankfully my friend Todd is there with an empty van and willing to help, because it took 2 van loads to get everything I brought there. I do an idiot check, to make sure I have no reason to ever return to the place, and Lonnie re-appears, smile on his face, and shakes my hand, “thank you so much, good show?” I know this is a battle not worth fighting, so the best I can let out is a half-hearted, “sure”. He shows me a text on his phone he got from his door girl (who didn’t start collecting until an hour after doors opened), and starts discussing pay. “Well total take on the show was $75, and we normally do 30% to promoter after expenses…” I cut him of, “you said 50/50”, he proceeds to act upset about the poor turnout of the show and how he can’t even cover his expenses with $75.00. I cut him off again, “you said 50/50, no matter what, and I drove to Portland to pick up Madeline and her piano, and I still have to get her home.” He acts all flustered and says, “Fine! 50/50!” and goes and tells his door girl to pay me. She gives me $35, after saying something about not being able to make change and that she could try to find someone with change. I tell her not to worry about it, give one quick last glance around, then head out.
As I do so, I see 2 young girls stripping down to their underwear, changing clothes or something. And my heart dropped. Even if they were legal, not all of the 20-30+ kids I passed outside the venue on the way to my van were.
There’s a bit of confusion over the gear and what vehicle it should be put into, as Madeline doesn’t know Todd, and everything is such a blur the way were rushed out, people were still just arriving for the art show and it was a bit chaotic as their confusion is seen by the bewilderment in their eyes looking around at all the raver kids and see us all leaving, and I said, “we’re moving to Hotel Baker”.
Once we got back to the house, things calmed down a lot. A small group of 15 or so filtered in the next few hours over at my house. I played some songs, people smoked weed, Tim and Elvis from Cake ‘N Bowls jammed out with Madeline on Piano. Madeline played some songs, Dria jammed on bass, Todd and Dave played some songs….it was calm, Taco Bell was ate, and I went to sleep with a sick feeling in my heart as I thought about the events of the evening.
There were many elements taken away from the evening that were awesome, and other elements from the evening that I have a hard time wrapping my head around.
If the intentions of the club had been honorable, it would’ve not been hard to inform me and combine the shows, but in my gut I feel it was about money and exploiting kids. Knowing that I had taken something that means so much to me and brought it into a den of wolves made me sick to my stomach.
I will not support this club or these people, and could not be happier to see them shut down. Not because my show was fucked off like it was nothing, but because of the way it was fucked off like it was nothing. I had an obligation to the bands, the artists, and the people that I brought together. The show was never given a chance to prove lucrative in the eyes of the club.
Because of the way the artists were treated and the way, I as a promoter was treated, I can not in good conscience tell anyone it would be a good place to set up a show. I don’t appreciate being lied to and I don’t appreciate the attempt to guilt me out of my cut on the door. 15 paid by 8:30pm is not bad, and with the amount of texts I received once my phone had been charged and turned back on, there would’ve been easily enough to recoup my expenses of being transportation for Machine, giving the out of town bands at least a 20 spot for gas money, and that’s with a 50/50 split on the door.
Tacoma needs more venues, but not like this we don’t.