Tips on how to book a show at the Blue Lagoon
In a world where e-mails go unanswered and phone calls never get returned, local bands can find a kindred spirit in Blue Lagoon booker Cory Atkinson. Coming up through the ranks with his own band, Atkinson is all too familiar with the trials of booking a tour and the heartbreak of playing an empty room. He works hard to respect bands, and let’s face it; you can’t say that about everyone.
Recently celebrating their thirtieth anniversary, the Blue Lagoon is a Santa Cruz institution. Booking live shows for the past five years, local bands can represent on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights. A cavernous space, the entire bar can hold upwards of 400, but the band room is considered sold out at 250. On a typical Wednesday night, everybody is happy with 50 people in the room. Local bands can hone their craft midweek and work their way up to a weekend slot.
A practitioner of the ancient art of “show trading,” Atkinson often plays matchmaker, pairing a local Santa Cruz band with a decent following, with an up and coming San Francisco band. The idea is that the out of town band gets some local exposure, and if all goes well will return the favor by bringing the hometown band up to the city where they have the larger draw. When balanced correctly, this scenario encourages a win/win with the bands and the club.
Working in conjunction with other local promoters, the Blue Lagoon is also the closest thing Santa Cruz has to co-op booking. What that means is that instead of a promoter having to rent the space (then bring in their show), the Blue Lagoon will make dates available for select local promoters to showcase their lineups. This alleviates some major expenses for promoters (rent, stage, security), which allows them to take more chances on emerging bands that would normally still be relegated to playing their parents’ garage. Atkinson tries to make it as easy as possible for local bookers to bring new elements into the club and he’s also open to aspiring bookers e-mailing him ideas for shows.
There are few places that really cater so honestly to local bands. If you e-mail Atkinson a link to your music and an idea of your local draw, chances are he will eventually find you a show. Rather than just throwing together random bands to fill slots, there is a lot of blood, sweat and texting that goes into building their successful local lineups.
A true labor of love, the Blue Lagoon continues to foster the Santa Cruz music scene one show at a time.
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