Things seem a bit peculiar over at nobody in particular presents, the local promotions house you no doubt recognize from all of those ticket stubs on the floor of your car. Last week, Russ Austin, who was then serving as NIPP's local booking agent, was informed that his services were no longer needed on a full- or even part-time basis, as his position was being, in Austin's words, "diminished." The announcement caused a reactionary ripple among a community of local musicians who'd come to appreciate Austin's accessibility and willingness to book heavier locals like Rogue and Throat Culture, bands that don't necessarily fit in with the larger NIPP operating aesthetic. The concern was, and continues to be, that in Austin's absence, NIPP will move away from booking and promoting local talent, particularly the kind with a metal bend. It's a concern Austin shares.
"[NIPP] want bands that are going to appease their image," he says. "A lot of the shows that I was booking, they didn't make a lot of money, but they at least broke even, and some of them did really well -- they'd bring in a lot of bar business. But I think part of it is that heavy metal is a word that evokes so much terror in people. It's almost like, even if it pays, its not something they are interested in pursuing."
Austin, who started with nobody in particular as an intern two and a half years ago, says that he may continue to work with the company as a freelance promoter. In the meantime, Peter Ore, who is already the company's national booking agent, will handle NIPP's national and local booking responsibilities. Ore says the volume of live music being presented by NIPP will not decrease in Austin's absence and that the decision to eliminate his position was based on simple economics, not a displeasure with Austin's heavy leanings. "There are maybe a few bands in town that can draw a big enough crowd to make giving them a headline gig worthwhile from a business standpoint," Ore says. "Russ did a great job, but at the end of the day, we cannot justify having a full-time position devoted to local bookings."
It's a good bet, though, that some players will make it their business to see how much of the NIPP calendar is occupied by locals. Ah, such is show business.
About a decade ago, as the fanzine movement was building momentum, many independent record stores took on a dual function: They became proletariat libraries of sorts, where stacks of crudely Xeroxed and stapled publications lined the counters, competing for space with, say, the cash register and the punk-rock clerk's unscrubbed elbows. Yet these days, the stacks are noticeably shorter. With the ease and accessibility of the Internet, self-publishing -- on paper, anyway -- seems to be on the wane. More and more DIY-minded folks have realized that ranting about capitalistic imperialism and how much Pearl Jam sucks in a limitless digital space is a tad less labor-intensive than spending all your time (and beer money) at Kinko's. Not to mention the way that making deliveries on your bike can kill an entire Saturday. Yet the zine is not dead, boys. Not entirely, at least.
Set to distribute bimonthly in Denver and Fort Collins beginning October 1, Royal Buzz is a new underground music mag led by Amy Parker, Joel Abell and Mike Freeman, the folks behind local indie label King Bee Records (now King Bee Music, Incorporated). According to Parker, the publication will differ from other zines in one important way: It will actually come out. On schedule.
"I think part of what happened with the movement was that zines got so lazy," she says. "Zines that were coming out once a month you now see maybe every three months. People would send stuff in and never see it published. We're kind of trying to change that perception by being reliable, having a little more integrity. We want magazine quality with a zine feel to it."
Parker, who quit a job as managing editor of the Fort Collins-based arts and entertainment magazine The Scene in order to edit Royal Buzz, says the magazine will feature articles by promoters, bandmembers (including Dan Fox from The Dropskots and Jim Chandler from The Down-N-Outs) and local underground scenesters. And though the Buzz's focus will be largely local, Parker says it will also cover national bands that don't always glean coverage in the pages of larger publications (like, um, the very one you are reading).
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The first issue of Royal Buzz, a sixteen-page affair, will be officially launched at a party at the Starlight in Fort Collins on October 7 featuring Gina Go Faster, the first King Bee signees (who, incidentally, are set to release a new seven-inch with Durango-based outfit The Thirteens the same week). Soon after, the publication will launch a Web-based counterpart at geocities. com/kingbeerecords/. Beware, though: Reading this publication may cause you to adopt a hive mentality.
Coming soon to a theater (or classroom) near you this week are a couple of excellent shows: Le Tigre, the newest project from Bikini Kill matriarch Kathleen Hanna, will pounce on the Raven on Tuesday, September 26, with the Pin Downs and Rainbow Sugar. Should be a show to make Sarah McLachlan wet her Hanes Her Way briefs...The Meat Puppets, whose current incarnation includes only one original member, Curt Kirkwood, will open for Elastica on Sunday, September 24, at the Bluebird (see Critic's Choice, page 98). The Pups, a former SST Records fave and grunge forebear, release Golden Lies this week, the band's first full-length in five years. Fans may be surprised to learn that in addition to Kirkwood's signature country-punk guitar histrionics, the disc features rap, of all things. Somehow, though, it works...Local fusionist fave the Good Vibes Quartet releases The Bad Side of the Good Vibes Quartet in a performance at Trios Enoteca on Saturday, September 23. Feel it, man...It's not a concert, but it might be the thing to ensure that local musicians appear in front of audiences, not judges: Colorado Lawyers for the Arts presents a daylong seminar on legal issues facing musical and visual artists on Sunday, September 23, at Red Rocks Community College. The program, which will touch on grant- and contract-writing, marketing, the Internet and copyright issues, is probably worthwhile to independent artists who prefer to handle their own affairs rather than turn them over to record labels, as well as anyone looking to use the Internet as a marketing or distribution tool. 'Cause right now the music industry is sue-happy. Just ask MP3.com.