Assignments

Q&A With Junebug

This Q&A is with Junebug. He is currently in charge of booking the entertainment at Jackie O’s. He has worked at other businesses in Athens over the years, as well as played in a few bands himself. He has also been writing a music column for the Athens News for 10 years. He is a good contact for my beat because he has been a part of the Athens music scene for a long time and has seen it from different angles.

Gierosky: How long have you worked booking bands in the music scene around here?

Junebug: I’ve been doing stuff around here since ’92, so whatever that makes it. Nineteen years I guess. In February it’ll be nineteen years, anyway. Mostly that was booking my own bands, and then for a while I booked a handful of bands into clubs and things like that, all around. And then I started doing the booking here probably four or five years ago.

Gierosky: Now, when you say booking your own bands, is that bands you were playing in?

Junebug: Yeah.

Gierosky: How many different bands have you been a part of?

Junebug: Oh goodness. I’ve been playing since I was probably 14 or 15 in bands. I’ve been in more bands than I’ve had years to be in bands, in the long run. Currently, I’m probably in three or four that are in varying states of activity, so I’ve always got something to do.

The trick to being a musician in town is to play with a bunch of different bands, or that’s one trick, anyway. You’ll always have a gig somewhere and it doesn’t get tiresome just playing the same thing over and over again. Or, you can have one band and travel, I’ve just never been able to find a band that held together that well that long. They’re tricky, tricky critters.

Gierosky: Now, as far as deciding who’s going to play where, how do you determine who gets to perform? You know, do you book everyone who asks if they can play? Or do you look for something in particular?

Junebug: You know, it’d be nice if we could give a show to just everybody but when you’re booking bands for a bar there’s specific criteria that need to be met and it’s sort of bar-specific.

This one is like: What is the owner like? What are the bartenders like? Who brings in people that are old enough to drink? You know what I mean? Because, sure, you might be able to fill the room, but if the bartenders are twiddling their thumbs, you know? So, I mean I’m torn, you know? Because it would be nice to have a room full of people. So those are the restrictions and the, sort of, guidelines to booking bands at this bar in particular.

And then the music tends towards folky, and hippy and bluegrass kind of stuff here. It’d be nice to bring in some hard rock, but the people that come here, you have to think of the people who are the regulars and if they’re not going to like it.

And then the people that maybe come to The Union aren’t going to come over here. So, invariably the bar ends up dictating how you book it. They can run the numbers now and see which bands do really well and have a good night, and then they’re like, “Well let’s get them back, and them back, and them back.”

The nice thing about having two rooms here is that we can do smaller things that might not draw as many people and stick them in the brewery, and that’s got a much different feel. So you can have 50 people in there and still have a good show. That’s nice, but we haven’t fully stretched those models out yet. This room has only been open a year and something.

Gierosky: Yeah, I actually went to the brewery first.

Junebug: See, there you go! It’s really nice, we’re getting the PA fixed up over there so we’re trying to figure out the spaces that we have and how to best utilize them. We have a lot of space. It’s kind of neat. It’s a boon and a bean to have the option that if you have a band with a cover, then the other side’s open.

So if you don’t want to pay the cover you can go to the other side. But, I would prefer that people had to pay the cover. Because then…because when we just had one room, people that wanted to go to Jackie O’s to drink then had to pay the cover and they’d go see the band and drink. Now if they just want to drink, they can just go next door and the band might get a few people otherwise, but they might not get them now because of that option to just go next door.

You think it’d be kind of nice, and the bar likes that because nobody gets turned away. The musician in me is always trying to figure out how to get more people into the room. But then…whatever. That’s the business side of music, I guess.

Gierosky: Who are some of the bigger bands around Athens or, more specific to Jackie O’s, who’s bringing in the biggest crowd?

Junebug: Rumpke Mountain Boys do pretty well. The Lennon Orchestra, which is a band I play in actually. The Werks do real well. I think Super-Massive does pretty well. A lot of those aren’t really local bands. Duke Junior & The Smokey Boots tend to bring people in. I think The Porters are going to bring people in. There’s a Pink Floyd tribute band, Any Colour You Like, they pack them in. Is that good enough?

Gierosky: Oh, yeah that’s great. Do you have a favorite?

Junebug: You know, honestly, I don’t get to see as much music as I would like. Mostly, for the last several years, all I was doing was playing music and booking bands and writing my article. Now I’m actually working at the bakery here so I don’t have to hustle gigs all the time. I’ve been enjoying having some down time and when I’m not playing, I don’t usually go out.

Gierosky: What do you like most about the general music scene here in Athens?

Junebug: Part of what we’ve helped to cultivate through different stages. I’ve been at Jackie O’s for probably five years. I did the Blue Gator before that.

The open stage scene is great. Here and Casa and The Skull especially have a more open atmosphere. And the musicians that are the real players, they show up at those and then they start playing together and then this little band starts and this little band starts. I like seeing how many people are in a bunch of different bands. It’s a non-competitive scene. Other towns I’ve lived and played in, the bands are really in competition with each other. Here, everybody’s real friendly together and the music’s just really good.

There’s some really good bands like Wheels on Fire and Skeletonwitch and Southeast Engine — their new album is really good. It’s pretty neat. It’s a great little spot to foster music for some reason. I’ve been here almost 20 years now for those reasons, I guess.

Gierosky: Is there anything that you would change if you could? Do you feel like there’s anything missing from the music scene here?

Junebug: Well, there’s no jazz really. Every once in a while, a couple things…There’s some buddies of mine that play up at Tony’s every Tuesday night, but there’s not really much of that. Even though it’s not quite my scene there are people that would come see it.

Mostly, I think, the way that the music is paid for is what I would like to find a universal solution. We talk about it, the various people that book the bars in town, different models and…Casa is doing their free shows where they’re paying bands out-of-pocket. I’m trying to figure out a way we could do that here. I want people to go see live music and not turn their nose up at a $3 cover.

If I could change something it would be the fact that a lot of young people these days aren’t given the opportunity to experience live music, and somehow get them to embrace that experience and come out and see the shows, because there is so much good music.

I feel like kids didn’t get the music classes and things like what I had when I was growing up. They didn’t have the exposure to the live music so they don’t know what they’re missing. When I see lines going out the door for DJs and stuff, that just drives me up a wall. I don’t know if that really answered your question.

Gierosky: No, that’s great. Absolutely. I guess my last question is how do you think the music scene here, I guess this kind of ties in with what I just asked, but, how do you think it affects OU students?

Junebug: Well, there’s those that get it and they come out. A number of years ago I estimated that there’s maybe 2,000 people in the county that go see live music. Some of them are once-a-monthers, some of them are all-the-timers and we divide them up. There are OU students that get it and come see live music. I don’t know.

Obviously the college is what brings everybody here. But just, people from the music school, you rarely see them in local bands. Some of the more adventurous horn players go out and do stuff but you don’t really get a lot of that. I’m not quite sure, I guess I don’t really know how to answer your question.

Gierosky: I guess what I’m asking is do you think this is a particularly beneficial music community for Ohio University students? I mean, I can tell by the way you’re talking about it that you think pretty highly of the music scene.

Junebug: Yeah, I would…When you do an open stage you get kind of a feel, you watch these people come up and they start playing and then they get better and better and better and they go off and have their bands.

From strictly the musician point of view I think it’s a great place to come learn about music, because there’s a lot of people with a lot of variety and experience and it gets handed around. I got a great musical education just being here, playing with the older folks that I’ve played with and now the younger folks. As far as that goes, people come here as students and I think it’s a great place to foster that. And, I think it’s a great place to foster love of seeing live music in clubs, you know?

There’s a lot of dicey bars I’ve played in over the years and around here, pretty much all the bars are fun to play in. I’d say overall it’s pretty positive. There’s nothing between like here and Mem Aud as far as size wise to have a mid-range show. We could get some of those acts, but we’d be afraid to get the people in. Fifteen dollars a ticket? People aren’t going to do it. That would be nice though, if we could have something not quite like the Newport, where you could get like 1,000 people in there. That would probably work really well.

I mean, Stuart’s Opera House out there? What Tim’s doing, he books at Casa too, you might want to talk to him, I’m sure he’s got a lot of thoughts. Him, Tim Peacock and Scott Winland at The Union, they’re both super nice guys that have vast experience in a lot of things. Scott books tours, he does the Blackout Booking. He books tours for bands all over the country. And Tim, he does the Nelsonville Music Fest and Stuart’s and Casa. He’s worked with a lot of great people.

Gierosky: Well great. Thank you very much. I think that’s all the questions I have. This has been great. You are a wealth of information.

Junebug: Yeah, well, I’ve been writing that music column and I’ve had my thumb on it the whole time.

Gierosky: You said you’d been writing that for about 10 years?

Junebug: February 2001 is when I started, I’m pretty sure.

Gierosky: Wow.

Junebug: Yeah, that’s what I said. They haven’t fired me yet?

Gierosky: Well you must be doing something right then.


First Assignment

Of Greg Linch’s important traits for journalism, the three that resonated the most with me were Listen, Tell the Truth and Be Part of a Community. All three of these traits are valuable to a journalist and are crucial to producing good news.

Listening is one of the most important skills for a journalist to have in their arsenal. Without attentive listening one has no springboard for in-depth questions or effective interviews. When I listen attentively I find myself asking better questions, learning more from an interview and forming a better connection with the person being interviewed. As a writer with a creative and sometimes wandering mind, I know that I occasionally have a story in my head that is not an accurate representation of the story at hand. By listening and internalizing the information I am given I am able to write compelling and factual stories that are just as good if not better than the ones I dream up.

Along with Listening comes Telling the Truth. From the very first day of Journalism 101 students are taught that truth in journalism is at the height of importance. What is the news if it is not a factual, accurate account of the story you wish to tell? A writer who passes fiction for fact is often disgraced in the eye of their fellow journalists and can lose respect, not to mention job offers. I make sure to double check any information that I am sending to print and have no qualms with calling a source to clarify things. Before anything else, I make sure that the story I write is truthful.

Being a Part of a Community is extremely beneficial to a journalist. By having contacts all over the place you establish a network of people to call when you need a source. Having people around you that have different areas of expertise can only make a journalist’s job easier. I learned this trait from my dad, who has always had a wide range of friends and contacts in both his business and personal life. Whether looking for a job or trying to find the perfect person to interview, it’s all about who you know. I am doing my best to establish a network of people that will benefit me both now and in the future.

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