I pull over when I spy estate sale signs. Maybe you pull over for free puppies or community vegetable boxes. But if Sam Jones has his way, we will all be pulling over any time we see his IIIE logo on a marquee or light pole.
As the newest “bookie” at tasked with attracting and promoting bands and musical talent, Jones is building his own brand while producing live shows in the North Bay.
“To me IIIE means, three elements: the fans are first, second come musicians and I’m the bookie, the third element that links them. My dream, besides having my own “Bookie Guru” reality show is reaching the point where people notice a IIIE event and just pull over… just buy that ticket, ‘cause they know it’s going to be a good show,” said Jones.
With the “why not?” confidence of Bill Graham, Jones is quickly mastering the club booking ropes, identifying up and coming bands and getting folks in the door at his $5 shows Thursday nights at The Rocks. If a band is unplugged with “gray groupies,” he uses old school marketing, handing out fliers at open-air markets or beaches.
For bands with built-in online fans, Jones utilizes Facebook or blasts email to fill the venue. He's been booking every Thursday night, which is the only live music night at The Rocks since May. He is the IIIE host with sponsors including Matchless Tattoo out of Sebastopol and Mercy Med out of Cotati.
“The minute Sam heard our CD, he wanted to book us. His enthusiasm and willingness to work with us has been entirely different from experiences we’ve had elsewhere,” said Jonathan Hall of Petaluma who plays in an indie band called The Mushrooms.
“It seems like every bar wants bands that play only blues, funk or old covers because the bookers think that’s what their customers want to hear. But that old music has been played to death!” Hall said.
With all original music with mingled echoes of The Pixies and Guster, The Mushrooms have had to work hard to be heard.
“That’s why it’s been so refreshing to work with Sam. He just booked us for Oct. 13 with The Holy Child from Seattle as opening band. They’re your typical psychedelic, gospel rock band. Insane, yet charming,” said Hall.
If Jones looks familiar, it might be because he eats nearly every day at on East Washington, where, until recently, he worked as a produce man, booking bands on the side.
He's put together shows at , Hopmonk Tavern, Aubergine After Dark, Cafe du Nord, Yoshi's and Biscuits and Blues in San Francisco, The Last Day Saloon in Santa Rosa, Ukiah Brewing Company, Ashkenaz, Penngrove Pub, The Tradewinds in Cotati, and Jasper O’Farrell’s in Sebastopol.
He’s come a long way from Idaho Falls, Idaho where he grew up. To see bands, he had to drive to the “Oz” of live music in spuds country, Boise.
Since arriving in Northern California in 2007 he’s worked a trainer in a health club, a green grocer and recently landed a radio show in Occidental at KOWS Radio, every other Sunday from 5 to 7 p.m.
“Everyone loves music. It’s the one thing everyone has in common. Putting the right music in the right venue and pulling in that audience. That’s what excites me,” said Jones.