"No, sir, I can't even play a freaking flute," reveals Wayne Quigley. "And what's that thing called -- a recorder? My kids blow me away on the recorder."
Back in May 2003, Quigley -- Big Q, as he's known around town -- didn't have any experience with homegrown music, either. Zero. Zip. Nada. But that didn't stop his best friend, Mike Smith, who plays in the band Cevrance, from tapping him to manage the group.
"I had no clue," Quigley confesses of his first foray into the local scene. "I had never done any managing or anything like that before in the past. I'd never been involved in the local scene. So I said, 'Sure. Why not? Let's try it out.'"
Quigley jumped in with both feet, taking on everything from booking the group's shows to managing its finances to building its website and running its promotion. And soon, a local concert promoter who recognized Q's ability approached him about taking over the promoter's company. Speaking with Quigley, even for just a few minutes, it's not hard to see why the promoter was so impressed: The man is passionate, driven and, best of all, humble.
"At first I was like, 'I don't know if this is going to happen,'" Quigley recalls. "And then I said, 'Yeah, I'll do it.' Two weeks later, he comes back and says, 'Naw, I'm not going to get rid of it.' So he got my hopes up all high to take over his production company, to start doing shows at Bottoms Up Tavern. At that time, I said, 'Well, okay, check this out, I'm going to start Big Q Productions.' We were all partying one night, just having a good time, and everybody was laughing about it. Next thing you know, I call up NIPP to book a show at the Bluebird for Cevrance; we were going to call it the Holiday Metal Ball. We did it, and the show went off as a success. I think there was 538 through the door that night."
Since then, Quigley has become one of the most prolific, well-regarded independent promoters in the scene. He averages at least five shows a month at bigger spaces like the Ogden, Bluebird and Gothic theaters, and smaller gigs at Iliff Park and Eck's saloons. Although he's dabbled in national acts -- last December he co-promoted a show with Dokken at the Gothic and, more recently, he put together a bill at Eck's with Vehemence (the show tanked, he says) -- his heart is in local music. In naming Quigley the Best Metal Promoter in the Best of Denver 2005, we speculated that he wasn't driven by the almighty dollar. We were right: Local metal isn't exactly a big moneymaker.
"We don't do this for the money," Quigley says. "We don't get rich. At the end of a theater night -- if I have 500 people -- after I pay the bands, we're lucky to walk out of there with thirty, forty, fifty bucks, maybe. And we take that money and put it away. That's what goes for our next posters and fliers."
Fortunately, Quigley has a full-time day gig that he loves. He works as a dispatcher at Comcast, where he's been employed for eleven years. And while his long-term goal is to someday own a theater of his own -- much like NIPP, which he describes as "awesome" and credits for any level of success he's had, along with Nick Brunning, his stage manager -- right now he's just trying to make a positive contribution to the scene.
"A lot of people -- I shouldn't say a lot of people, but some people -- out there think it's all about making money," Quigley explains. "Well, I have a whole different attitude on it. You know, if I don't make a dime off a show, that's fine. I'd much rather that these bands, these local bands that bust their ass, day in and day out, make whatever it takes to make sure that they know that they're wanted to come back and play another show for me. Not like, 'Thank you for playing a show for me; you don't even get twenty bucks.' I don't think like that. I will make sure they get posters, they get fliers, they get everything to help the show be a success. I just want the bands to feel wanted. I think that's the bottom line. I want them to know that somebody out there cares about them, that we're not just using them for their talent and their money. That's just not what we're all about."
His benevolence extends beyond the acts he promotes: Quigley believes there's room for everybody. "I'd love it if there were shows every night of the week," he says. "I've been in the local scene for two years now, and I did not realize just how many talented musicians are in our city. A lot of people are looking out for these national and international acts to go and pay $30, $40 and $50 to see; I have no problem with that, because they started somewhere, too. I'm just trying to change our scene here to make them realize that we have the same thing. Let's give these guys a chance. I've gone to Danzig, Black Label Society; I went to Otep -- all these big national acts that come through. There's 900 to 1,100 people at the Ogden; I'm trying to figure out where all these people are when we do an Ogden show and there's only 400 people. I'm interested in helping these local bands get to that level."
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Although Quigley's earned his stripes on the metal circuit, he has plans to branch out...slowly. His first bill that's not entirely metal is slated for Thursday, April 21, with Kelli*Said, Crusher Bound Cadillac, Varient and Watership at the Gothic; he calls it a "test" to see how well things go. But no matter how well they do, Quigley is adamant about keeping two things exactly as they are: "Most of our shows are all-ages," he says. "Obviously, the bar shows are 21-and-up. But I don't like to do 21-and-up-only shows at the theaters, because the kids deserve to hear the music, too. And I work with all kinds of bands. You don't have to be an A-lister for me to work with you."
Quigley obviously knows more about music than he thinks he does.
Upbeats and beatdowns: At 7 p.m. Thursday, April 14, the Mystery Children -- an improvisational project led by ex-Skull Flux and Kalisti frontman Conrad Kehn and featuring Niteshark's Andrew Lidstrom, the Czars' Dave Devine and Jeff Eliason, and Uversa's Bret Sexton -- jumps from+ the hi-dive. On Friday, April 15, the Railbenders, Buford T. Justice and the Woodies stop by Herman's Hideaway to help Hapi Skratch Entertainment celebrate its tenth anniversary at the first of two showcases. (The second event is set for Saturday, April 23, at the Soiled Dove, and will include performances by the Dave Beegle Acoustic Band, GasHead, Aubrey Collins, Melissa Ivey, Dead Heaven Cowboys and Drug Under.) And on Wednesday, April 20 -- that's right, 4/20 for the Zig-Zag contingent -- Steve Kimock, Kyle Hollingsworth (String Cheese Incident), Dave Watts (the Motet) and Reed Mathis light up Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom for Rebel Alliance Jam IV, a benefit show sponsored by Conscious Alliance.