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Erik Christensen, Promotions Director/Show Manager/Talent Buyer at Sam's talks to the 'Current' about the venue's position on local indie rock booking

Photo: Josh Huskin, License: N/A

Josh Huskin

Sam’s Erik Christensen wants YOU to bring people in

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What is Sam’s strategy when it comes to local bands?
We support local shows. You can’t have a good music environment without local bands booked. With that being said, we have to juggle whether it’s worth it or not, both from Sam’s and the band’s side. Because we don’t have a walk-up crowd, we pretty much depend on the band that’s on that stage to bring in the people. It doesn’t do the band any good to be playing basically for the staff.

But most local bands playing at Sam’s are Americana/blues.
What about local indies?

We don’t have as much indie rock as we could. A lot of it has to do with the amount of emails that we get. If we say no to a local indie rock band, it’s not necessarily due to us not wanting to have them. But we get so many emails that, if we don’t hear from the bands, it kind of gets lost.

Do you mean, they send you an email and never follow up?
I always tell the bands: “Don’t ever think you can bug me with an email too much.” Keith [Howerton, partner at Sam’s and Entertainment Director] and I try to answer to all emails between the two of us. Sometime one email will fall through the cracks.

The Use of Time show, stylistically, marks a departure for Sam’s.
It’s not Americana, blues, or roots.

We try to be as versatile as we can. We don’t necessarily try to pigeonhole ourselves as a country bar, or… I mean, what it comes down to is we’re a blues and rock ’n’ roll club, but Education was a band we loved working with.

Is it possible that bands don’t contact you because they think, “Oh, Sam’s would never book us”?
To some degree it may be that, but also they may look at other venues as a place to play. There’s a cycle where musicians start in bars and coffee shops. As they develop fan bases they move to smaller clubs and bigger clubs. Hopefully, with all these apartments coming up, we will have that [walk-up crowd] and we’ll be able to put in a band that is local and we’ll help them build a following. Right now I can’t.

It seems to me that, in spite of the Americana/Blues identity, Sam’s is open to indie local bands…
We just have to make it right. Fifty-60 people in the room gets a good vibe [Sam’s capacity is 550 standing room only, and 350 standing and tables]. Basically what we consider is indie rock, country, blues, and not a whole lot of heavy metal or punk.

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