As for the Bill Graham thing, I'm talking years ago, he would stick on artists that didn't fit with the other artists to shove good music down their throats. The one thing I noticed recently is people coming out to shows that have two or three completely different acts on the bill and dancing wildly and having a great time no matter what the style of music was. I've seen that a lot in the past two or three months. That's been very gratifying for me. It seems that people are opening up their minds to that. They're coming out for the whole show instead of just the headliner or their friends' band. I think that's very important.
Yeah, I always think about Bill Graham having Miles Davis opening for the Grateful Dead. If you want to see the Dead, you have to see Miles.
That's a real punishment, right? Seeing one of the most innovative jazz musicians in history. I'm not doing anything at that level yet, but I would like to. But I am seeing a much more open minded audience coming out to my shows recently. It gives me hope that all is not lost.
One of the things that I've always heard about you, probably going back to the days when I first met you in the mid-90s, was that for the most part you give every young band a fair shake if they're willing to work -- you'll give them opportunities.
I try. There are bands out there that think I'm a total asshole, because I haven't given them the chance they deserve or I gave them chances and it just didn't work. I'm just like anybody else. There are people out there that really enjoy working with me and there are people who think I'm an idiot. I try really hard to be fair to everybody. When I bring in national and regional acts that do well, I always try to get a local act on the bill to give them some exposure. I fight with agents all the time about that. I really need local acts on a bill for the show to be successful. I think there are a lot of people out there that do realize I actually know what I'm talking about and are much more liable to let me pick an opening act, more so than what some other promoters are able to do. People who come to my shows and people who work with me in the business know that if I put an act on a bill they're there not just as muzak, but because somebody should see them. I don't just put a band on a bill as filler or to get another ten people through the door. I put people on who I think deserve to be seen, and I think that the audience will like them. And one of the things that I like most about promoting is building a show -- picking the right acts to work together. These celebration shows were like that. Once I had Conehead Buddha, it was easy because I've been working with them for as long as anybody except for Dr. Jah. The other acts, I really wanted to do bands that I wanted to see and what I think people would want to see. So, I do my best to put on good shows.
Who are the bands that have had the most influence on you?
We'll start with the Monkees. They were the first band that turned me on to rock 'n' roll. They started it all. And then, of course, the Grateful Dead. They've had most influence on me becoming a promoter and doing the shows I do. I would have to say the Star Spangled Washboard Band/Blotto -- they're basically the same band with two different names. They're the ones that got me into the Albany music scene in the early to mid-70s. And the last two would be Dr. Jah and the Love Prophets because almost everybody that I've developed a long term relationships with opened up for them when they first came to Albany. And then I would have to say moe. Working with them has been the highlight of my career. They're in the top five to ten jam bands in the country and they could have worked with many other promoters -- like a lot of bands have -- but they stuck with me.
What are some of your all-time favorite concerts you attended?
Miles Davis opening up for Santana at Stony Brook University. That was in 1970 during the Bitches Brew tour. Yeah, that was amazing. One of my other favorite shows was Sinead O'Connor at SPAC sometime in the 80s. That was before she was vilified for ripping up a photo of the pope. That was one of the best shows I've ever seen. The Talking Heads at SPAC was incredible. Pretty much every Neil Young show I've seen [laughs] -- whether it was Shocking Pinks, Trans, solo or Crazy Horse, I loved them all. And for the Grateful Dead, I would say the last three nights they played at Red Rocks in 1987. I went out there two weeks before I was getting married. It was kind of like my bachelor party. The guy I was supposed to go out with bailed at the last minute, so I flew out there solo and went to the shows by myself and had a great time. Probably the first Grateful Dead show in Albany at the Knick was one my favorites as well.