“You’ll never work in this town again”

A phrase used to imply that the speaker is powerful and influential enough to blackball someone from gaining any employment in a specific town or city. Often said by Hollywood studio executives (and wannabe execs) and by wealthy small-town businessmen and politicians to employees, flunkies, and/or "little people" who offend the speaker in some manner, often by refusing to get them coffee, refusing to bow and scrape, or telling them they're not as smart as they think they are. This phrase is nearly always incorrect, because the speaker rarely has enough power and influence to scare off all possible employers.

And such is the case when a promoter tells an artist if they even say the wrong word to any club owner in Huntington Beach, not only will they not get a gig there but “they’ll never work in this town again”

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Where do musicians get to ply their craft and who decides if they do or do not play. Clearly anyone who has cold called a gig, used part of their network to get a gig or just walked into a club and asked for a gig knows that the final decision rests with the club owner, manager or talent buyer.

Who else is involved in that decision? Well, perhaps the promoter. Certainly if you are a musician who would like the promoter to book you for one of the clubs that he or she regularly books. And most likely a promoter who consistently brings business into a club has the advantage over a band who may or may not bring a crowd and has to hustle all their friends and fans to get them there.

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All right. That makes sense because a club owner is in the business of making money. There are very few club owners who are looking to build a reputation for exposing unknown artists to the public. That’s not to say that there have not been a number of club owners, managers and talent buyers who have done just that. David Forest who booked the Whisky and the Starwood, Doug Weston who owned the Troubador, Mario Maglieri who owned two of the most enduring clubs in the neighborhood, the Whisky a Go Go and the Rainbow Bar & Grill, Maglieri fed musicians including Led Zeppelin, Cypress Hill, Guns N’ Roses, Motorhead and hundreds more and helped just as many land onstage, Elmer A. Valentine, a self-described crooked cop who fled Chicago to start a new life on the Sunset Strip by opening the Whisky a Go Go, one of the most celebrated clubs in the history of rock music, and gave aone-year contract to Johnny Rivers, then a 21-year-old rocker and bluesman, who turned out to be wildly popular, Jerry Roach, who owned the Cuckoo’s Nest in Costa Mesa was from a different generation than the kids, and he didn't quite get their music at first. I grew to like it," he said, "I gave them a place to play," Roach says of the first punkers. "That's how I fostered the genre”, Rick Babiracki who owned the Golden Bear in Huntington Beach and always was on the lookout for new talent and most recently, Mike Ruocco who is the talent buyer for the Main Street Restaurant in Yorba Linda. I am sure there are others and I apologize if I did not mention your name.

All these guys gave musicians the opportunity to play and even make a little money. They did not cow-tow to any promoters, the city officials and the sometimes negative press.

So to all the promoters who believe they have a death grip on the booking of clubs in Huntington Beach; you’re not fit to walk in the shadow of any of these greats that I mentioned. The bands and musicians make you who you are, you do not make them who they are.

-Rick Snyder

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