Originally published in ‘zine issue #33, 2005
Clavius Productions and Detournemont Productions are two entities that book and promote shows. In a talk with them, they discuss the ins and outs of working in the Washington, D.C. Metro area.
“Being involved in a DIY community and scene as a teenager inspired me to be active in regards to helping out independent bands and creating new musical experiences,” begins Scott Nussman of Detournemont. “My first show was with the help of Wade and Ryan Fletcher, two people who have had a very active role in the DIY/punk/activist community for a long time. They brought shows back to the Wilson Center [in D.C.] and started up [the] awesome Brian McKenzie Infoshop. Seeing them operate at a very DIY level, not for profit, made me want to help out.”
As for Scott Verrastro of Clavius, “I got into booking when I was looking for a place to book the amazing free jazz duo Flaherty/Corsano. When I couldn’t find a venue, I decided to host them at my house, and it went so well that I decided to continue doing house shows. I was really tired of traveling to Baltimore and Philly for every great psych/noise/experimental show, and thought it was a shame that these bands could not find a place to play in DC, and I wanted to change that.”
Both have had their hands in doing sound for gigs, although, “I sold my rig this year because I was sick of having my mics, cords, and stands broken and never being recompensated for that … To some degree I wish I still had my rig because I still go to DIY shows these days occasionally where the sound is shit,” Nussman admits, adding, “I always thought running sound was one of the funnest jobs I ever had. However, once things ended up getting broken, it became much more of a pain in the ass.”
On the subject of getting paid (or not), benefit gigs are promoted by both men.
“Benefit shows go over well with bands and audiences because they are usually in agreement with the cause and have no problem supporting it,” explains Verrastro, while Nussman adds, “Causes are worth sacrificing for, and if it means going without gas money, that’s what it means.”
They’re not above spending their own money when necessary to pull of a gig either.
“I dip into my pocket for maybe one in every five shows. Once again though, I look at doing shows as a passion I’m willing to sacrifice for. I have no regrets in terms of having to give money to bands out of pocket because I agreed to a guarantee that they didn’t draw enough people out to carry.”
The guys book gigs not only in the city but in the suburbs as well.
“Doing shows out in the ‘burbs is a hell of a lot harder because people’s ideas of independent music aren’t always the most accepting … If I didn’t have places like the Greenhouse, a house that did shows, close to me while I was growing up, my view of music right now would probably be a lot narrower,” reveals Nussman. “I’ve always viewed taking a place and doing a show in it as a way of liberating that space into an arts and cultural zone. More is being accomplished by liberating a space in a conservative, white collar area then doing so in an urban, hip area where there’s already venues for those kinds of performances.”
Wrapping up the whole show booking experience, Verrastro states, “To book a good show and ensure that people come out for it and the bands get paid decently takes a lot of work … Getting paid well doesn’t mean anything to a lot of bands if the atmosphere is downright miserable.”
Nussman concludes by saying, “It’s a lot of work that can create stress, but you do it for the sake of doing it and you always smile when you look back.”
Find out what these gents have in the works by visiting www.detournemont.com and http://claviusproductions.alkem.org/. ■