Exactly a year ago last Saturday, the most important songwriter of the 20th century, Bob Dylan himself, played the John Paul Jones Arena. Only a few weeks earlier Lady Gaga, who is hugely important in American culture, had played. All this was leading up to a pair of November gigs with the Dave Matthews Band, Charlottesville’s most important export.
An October 26th show with The Goo Goo Dolls was announced for the John Paul Jones Arena, a bright spot in an otherwise quiet season for big concerts.
Compare that to this year: the Grateful Dead offshoot act Furthur, featuring Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, is booked for November 8, and the staggeringly popular ventriloquist Jeff Dunham’s “Controlled Chaos” show follows two days later. Good stuff. But look through the season’s schedule and we’ve got the Ringling Brothers’ circus in October, Broadway in Charlottesville, a couple of job fairs, the annual Martha’s Market Fundraiser…hmph.
Worthy events, to be sure, but we’ve got an arena. Where’s the arena rock? (Just as this article was going to press, the arena announced a Goo-Goo Dolls show for October 26.)
I called JPJ’s manager Jason Pedone to check in. Did something happen with the arena’s agreement with SMG, the events management company that works with promoters to route its acts through the dozens of arenas like JPJ that it manages across the country? Nope: The agreement is inked with SMG through June 2016.
Where are the rock shows then? “Those things are a little bit out of our control, to some extent,” Pedone told me over the phone. “But we’re going to have another great year. We just can’t always control when they’re announced. Last year the year got started a little bit earlier. But we’re going to have another great year.”
“I know that’s not really exactly what you’re looking for,” he said. “No disrespect to any artists, but I understand your question. It’s just the way things are falling this year.”
He said shows there are still being booked as they’ve always been. “If you can route a show from Huntington, West Virginia, to Charlottesville, to Baltimore, that works out really well.
“We certainly do pitch that to agents and promoters that are routing tours. In some cases the corporate office routes the shows themselves.”
The Paramount Theater also seems to be in a dry spell, as far as big-time rock ‘n’ roll acts go. A strong first half of the year brought us Randy Newman, Earl Scruggs, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and then Gillian Welch this August. Good stuff.
The theater’s schedule is packed through the winter with events featuring the Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane Dance Co., the Met in HD, a night with celebrity chefs Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert. Again, good stuff. But where’s the rock?
Starr Hill Presents will bring The Jayhawks to the Paramount on October 23, but aside from that it’s a similar pattern—no big-name rock acts through the end of the year. I checked in with Debra McMahon, vice chair of the Paramount’s Board of Directors, who said that the board was finalizing an agreement that would continue the Paramount’s partnership with SMG, which means that moving forward it should be business as usual—big-name acts rock acts.
As Pedone said of JPJ, “Keep checking in. Another outstanding year coming up.” Let’s hope it starts soon.
What did one cannibal say to the next while eating a clown?
Maybe you can find out this November at the United Nations of Comedy Tour. Tickets are on sale now for the November 19 chucklefest, which features David Foster, Gina Brillon, Bridget McManus, Sheng Wang and Funny Man Skiba. (They’ve appeared on Comedy Central, BET “Comic View,” HBO, Showtime, and other national programs.)
The comedy series was founded by local events promoter Ty Cooper, who intends for the series to promote diversity around town. Can’t argue with that. So we’re giving away a pair of free tickets to anyone with a good joke. Visit the Feedback blog at c-ville.com for complete details.
Oh, and the answer to the above joke is, Does this taste funny to you?
Speaking of big-name rock acts, you’ve probably heard in, like, every major media outlet about how September 24 weekend marked the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s Nevermind, the album that turned major labels on to independent music and brought angsty, abstract lyrics in rock music to the mainstream.
Well, over at the Feedback blog, I’ve been hosting a little birthday party for lovers of another important album, albeit a much less important one, that celebrated its 15th anniversary on the 24th: Pinkerton, Weezer’s mega-flop-turned-cult-classic. For those of us who were 6 years old when Nirvana broke, Pinkerton is, in its own way, our Nevermind. Viva Pinkerton!