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The Rocks' New Bookie Has Big Plans for the Venue

Sam Jones wants Petaluma to shake that thing

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.

Jones is also band manager for The Coast Pilots and Jeremy Goodfeather and also books Petaluma siren Alma Desnuda, and Stomacher.

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.

Goofpod September 30, 2011 at 03:39 PM
Don't quit your day job.
Corinne Reif September 30, 2011 at 06:30 PM
@Goofpod - Agreed. This young man picks and chooses which venues and shows he deems the most important to promote. He then leaves it up to the musicians to promote the "other" shows that he books. The musicians also have to supply the PA and perform the shows while he shows up late, takes money at the door (unless you are one of his friends) and then takes a portion of the cash from the shows/drink sales for himself. He just books the venue, something the musicians used to do directly via Joe at the Rocks last year without him. For which, bands received proper compensation for their time and performances. For those who don't know, most local musicians do not make a great deal of money from shows (usually between $50-200 per band). We perform for the love of live music. What little we make goes back into the band in terms of promotion, rehearsal space rental, equipment, instrument repair and transportation. if a band doesn't play, a band does not get paid. A promotions person that does not promote, should not get paid for being a promoter. A booking fee, although unfortunate, I can still understand that, but getting paid for a service you did not provide is unfair and disrespectful to the musicians who have worked very hard to entertain your event's audience.
PoeGrl September 30, 2011 at 08:29 PM
I never heard of IIIE before, well till I missed a show for a friends band. When you learn about a promotion company because you missed an event because you don't hear about it... you may have a little bit of a problem. I try my best to make it out to support live music shows when ever I can, so when a FB Blast didn't pop up until the day before a buddies show, (the blast wasn't put out by IIIE company, but by the band) I had to ask what was up with the late notice, was it some last minute add? I was informed by my friend that no, they had the show booked for over a month, but no promotion was put into it at all? A day or two before the gig, some guys from the band went to Kinko's, made flyers with their own money and design and went round town handing them out to try and get word out, on their own time. Heard from another friend of mine That the Sam guy asked one of the kids in a band to whip together a poster for him to promote their show, because he was just to busy he couldn't do it? After being to busy to promote shows with his company, the bands still paid IIIE out of the take from the door. All I can think is this dude has the best con in town, and it sucks that local musicians are the one's having to pay. I dig the Rocks, nice bar tenders, but I don't know if I want to go back for an event knowing that the guy at the door may be screwing the performers over. I'm there to see them play, not line his pockets just saying.
Bass Guy September 30, 2011 at 11:46 PM
I've played 3E show at Hopmonk. Sam puts on a well run show and the performers are fairly paid for their draw. He puts alot of time into helping local orignal bands and promotes the heck outta his events. I've only been treated fairly and would play another 3E event if asked.
PoeGrl September 30, 2011 at 11:48 PM
@Bass Guy, Well It's nice to hear he's treating someone right. From what I've come to understand it's all pretty hit or miss. Oh well.
Corinne Reif October 01, 2011 at 12:48 AM
@bass guy- I am glad you have had good experiences at his shows at The Hopmonk. I have worked with him three times at The Rocks and each show was not promoted very well and he was condescending to the musicians of both bands. I never had an issue with shows at the Rocks before his company took over the booking. Joe, the previous booker, was always very polite and treated musicians well. The venue itself is very fun to play and has a very friendly staff. However, two out of three shows that I have had there via Sam were very frustrating. I would like to attribute this to the fact that he is new to this industry and will hopefully one day appreciate and respect all the musicians (instead of telling us that we should be honored to have the privilege to play his events) who play his events and not just the ones at select shows where the draw may be larger. Respect is very important. I am not a "kid" in some band off the street, I have a Master's degree in Music Performance and to be told that I should be happy that I had the " privilege" to play a Thursday night show that had very little promotion from E3 itself for very little money is down right disrespectful. Maybe he was having a difficult month or so to attribute for his actions but there is no need to show such arrogance to the people who are supplying the entertainment for your event.I hope things change but until then, myself and others will not be attending or performing at his events.
Steve Fannon October 01, 2011 at 06:04 AM
Hey, foes. You just sound mad. I saw this Kat promoting cds, business cards and flyers at Burning Man for local bands and shows at the Rocks. I am looking forward to seeing his upcoming shows. 2 thumbs UP!
PoeGrl October 01, 2011 at 06:21 AM
Whoa man, I'm not mad, and I don't know the guy, so foe, not quite, but that's neither here nor there. I just don't like seeing bands getting the short end of the stick. If this Sam dude is finally hustling locally where the shows are happening, and paying what the music is actually worth ,to all the bands he works with, cool. I just know what I saw and it really didn't seem all to fair or respectful to some of the artists. Either way I hope The Rocks keeps live music going. So sick of DJ's and the like, That sort of thing is only worth while in The City any how. Cheers to The Rocks for keeping live music going in Petaluma.
source energy October 01, 2011 at 05:42 PM
keep up the good work sam! petaluma musicians and fans need you:) and remember.. the more they 'hate' the more you know you're on the right path.. ;)
David Korman October 01, 2011 at 06:20 PM
I challenge/encourage anyone giving Sam a hard time to start promoting weekly events at a venue anywhere in Sonoma County. It's hard work. Try giving unknown local talent a place to strut their stuff. Try getting fresh heads in the club every week, or even just once. Try it, then come back and hate. Sam Jones is promoting live music in a market that is extremely hard to get a good grip on. His actions, whether he succeeds or fails will benefit our entire community. And, even if you still can't appreciate Sam and 3E, know that his participation in the local Sonoma County music scene plays an essential role in supporting venues and musicians across many musical genres throughout the county. I believe we need many venues and bands active all the time to cultivate a healthy active music scene. Sam desires very sincerely to introduce audiences to bands. So instead of hating, throw a better party. If you are a musician or a venue or a promoter and you don't like what Sam is doing, show him up. Go out and promote a better weekly show. Go get new heads out to the club on a Thursday night. David Korman Photographer, Writer, Promoter SF Bay Area Live Music, Events, Portraits, Photojournalism 845-269-2495 www.about.me/davidkorman http://davidkormanphoto.carbonmade.com/ SUPPORT LOCAL LIVE MUSIC. GO EXPERIENCE LIVE MUSIC!
livinthedream October 01, 2011 at 06:29 PM
@Korman- :) @corrine- what are you talking about? my friend just played at Live Music Thursday and all sound equipment(PA) was provided by the sound guys. get your facts straight and get a life and quit hatin' on others who are living the dream. :)
Amara October 01, 2011 at 07:54 PM
Rayne, Wonderful profile of a sincere young dude who's putting his heart into his passion ~ something I encourage everyone to do. And intriguing that you compared him to the legendary Graham, as I said similar when watching Sam envision IIIE: even Bill Graham had to start somewhere. Sam has the fire and focus, and as David Korman so succinctly observes, it's hard work, as most dreams are in the early stages. Music is a universal language. What's your song? Time to sing out strong!
Goofpod October 02, 2011 at 02:53 AM
My opening comment was pointing out the difficulty of this career path. Been there, I wish him luck. Better off to get a good education and you'll go much further in life. ;)
tom gaffey October 02, 2011 at 07:22 PM
when was the last time you hired somebody with a masters degree? He is getting a good education.
Goofpod October 03, 2011 at 07:19 AM
Uh huh. The music biz is very lucrative...
tom gaffey October 03, 2011 at 05:23 PM
Yes, that's true Goofpod the music business is very lucrative...
OTF Rocks October 03, 2011 at 11:40 PM
Over The Falls chiming in! We've played 5 shows at The Rocks over the past 1-1/2 years, just one of those for IIIE. It wasn't any different than any of the others (actually, a bit less of a crowd) but I wouldn't say that was Sam's fault. As most of you know, it's a F-ing pain in the butt to promote in Sonoma County. This scene pretty much blows, especially the rock scene: not the bands, people or venues (mostly), just the lack of cohesion between it all. Not trying to sound like a whiner, just observing after 10 years of playing here. If there's someone else out there trying to spread the word, more power to him, but he's gotta back it up. Again, I don't blame IIIE for the poor showing we had (probably only 50-60 heads), but I don't think he helped in THIS particular case. It still comes down to how well the band promotes within and outside of their friend/fan group. One show shouldn't make or break a band, so by that logic it also shouldn't make or break a promoter. Over The Falls would certainly work with him again, & probably be more proactive in promoting the show WITH him, rather than expecting him to do all the work (or vice-versa). Also, it should be noted that we didn't even know there WAS a new promoter at The Rocks 'til we got there that night, so again, we don't think Sam failed us in any way. And now for some shameless self-promotion: www.overthefallsrocks.com
OTF Rocks October 03, 2011 at 11:42 PM
Speaking of promotion: Tomorrow (Tuesday, Oct 4th), Over The Falls and Big Hurt at the Elbo Room, 647 Valencia, SF, 9pm... ohhh yeah. Also, we've never played a show at The Rocks where we didn't have to supply our own PA, so I don't know what the hell @livinthedream is talking about.
Samuel Aaron Jones October 04, 2011 at 02:26 AM
Show's for October @The Rocks October 6th: Timothy O'Neil Band w/Sally Haggard and Tony Gibons October 13th: The Mushrooms w/Holy Child (from Seattle) October 20th: Gentry Bronson w/The Coast Pilots and Endoxi (from San Diego) October 27th: Bam/Vox! w/Motivenation (from L.A.) November 3rd: Domenic Bianco w/Simple Creations (from Sacramento) December 1st: Ama Evoloution (from San Fransisco) Need a headliner for this one.. The Rocks now provides sound/PA by Scoot's Audio. (Scotty Schipper and Dylan Chambers) Photo for this article by Anine Oliver Photography Thanks for your feedback everyone! Good or bad.. That's why they call it feedback. "A smooth sea never makes a skillful mariner."- Proverb Much respect.
DesignIsEverything October 04, 2011 at 11:59 PM
I guess haters will hate. I wish those that are trashing the good news of a young guy trying his best to create a buzz for musicians in the North Bay, knew how much he is doing for new artists out there. I'm sorry you had a bad experience, but calling the guy cheap or say that he is taking your money, is downright shameful. If you knew what went into promoting shows and working with last minute changes from random young (and old) bands, who don't necessarily deserve the respect they demand, you would not be making such strong convictions. Your statements, frankly, hold no merit. I've seen this guy promote bands that would otherwise never receive the buzz, and taken nothing in his pocket in the end, except for the joy of making his and your dreams come true for musicians alike. You should probably step into his shoes before you make harsh comments like that. And if you had a bad experience, why not make amends, be clear of your expectations (like any other business minded individual), and give it another shot with a motivated person that will surely make an impression in the industry in the very near future. This article is your first example.
OTF December 02, 2011 at 04:33 PM
Another voice from Over The Falls here. As previously stated we have only done one show with IIIE, and that one show we were not even aware that there was a promoter until we arrived at the show. That being said I do not think that we even have the experience or history with this promoter to form a thorough or in depth opinion. It was not a bad experience. It was not a great experience.
Corinne Reif December 02, 2011 at 05:02 PM
UPDATE - It's now the holiday season. Time for good will, thankfulness and brotherly love to shine though our sometimes seemingly gray day to day lives. Sam and our band have spoken and pached up our differences - both with humility and respect as we are all here "for the Music". We worked together on another show to try and start fresh - This time IIE made the effort and came through for the bands. There were mini poster cards, electric sign listing the shows for the month at the club in the front window, some facebook promotion, a great sound system and two wonderful sound engineers provided and a very fair cut of the evening's take. We all learn from each other and so long as we all grow and progress from our experiences then the lesson has been a good one. Sam has now made the effort to really listen to what the bands need to feel appreciated and in turn, greatly improved band/promoter relations. Each show should be treated as important no matter what venue or night of the week it is on. It is important in the eyes of the band members who spend countless hours rehearsing for those few shining moments on stage and, most importantly, in the ears of people who have taken their time and money to come out to hear live music (which sadly seems to be a dying commodity in these days of DJs and dance music). It takes time to obtain excellence in any job and this was definitely a step in the right direction. Lets all keep moving forward. Happy Holidays

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