Wednesday, December 22, 2010

He'll Rock Your Amadeus! Q&A with Andrew Bucket, Booking Agent for the Velvet Lounge & Editor-In-Chief of "The Folly"

Photo Credit: Shauna B Alexander

Q:  You book all of the acts who perform at the The Velvet Lounge and speak fondly of your experience there thus far.  Share with us how you originally landed there and how your role has evolved...
A:  Well in like 2006 I played a show at Velvet with my old band The Huzbandz, and the sound guy Rob Curtis thought we were the best thing he'd ever seen and became obsessed with us. The rest of the staff thought we were annoying, but none the less, we started hanging out there every night, and it was great because our old stomping ground Wonderland had been overrun at this point by the date-rapey contingent that now dominates it.

The improv psych and noise scene was mostly centered around Velvet and Scott Verrastro's house 611 Florida at that point, and we went to all those shows and were basically the new-b's of the noise crowd.  My band mate Haley actually moved in with Damian Languell who lived two blocks away from Velvet Lounge, so it was like the party was either at the house, or at Velvet, and after shows all the bands would party at their place. 

One night I came to hang out and Rob Curtis was icing his face because Damian had attacked him and he's like "want a job?" So I took over Damian's door shifts and worked as a doorman there for about a year. I was probably the best doorman they had, even though I am very small, because I made it a point to know who people were, and I was really good at managing the money. I got a gun pulled on me when I first started, after this guy was accused of grabbing a girls ass, and I talked the guy into putting it away and leaving, this is while the other employees were hiding behind the bar.

So when Scott Verrastro moved to Philly he asked me if I wanted to be his apprentice and take over booking Velvet, which was the craziest thing I'd ever heard in my life. I was a door man, and I made like no money, and was scraping by and not even able to pay my rent, so this would mean that my rent was more than covered every month and I would get to put shows together. I was really, really, really bad at it for five months and eventually fucked up enough times that I became OK at it. 

Things kind of blew up when we started doing DJ's downstairs which was something unique to my "administration," because Scott didn't want it to be a party scene in the way a lot of clubs were going, but I had actually been friends with a lot of DJ's since the way-back-when days of Wonderland. The Nouveau Riche guys, and most of the bigger DJ's were all hanging out there all the time when me and Haley were, and we were such good friends, and I had really fun times at their parties, so it was just a no-brainer to do DJ's at Velvet and it totally changed the club from the "seedy dive" that the press always calls it, to a pretty scrappy contender on any night.

Q:  Who are some of the acts & DJ's we can expect to see at Velvet over the holiday season?   

A:  Every second Tuesday we have Baby Alcatraz and Kid Congo Powers, and Ian Svenonius Ian Svenonius drops by for that  all the time when he's in town, so you can really count on that night to rock your Amadeus.  

Q:  We were disappointed that we didn't make it to see Patti Smith this past weekend at the National Portrait Gallery.  You went!  Give us your impressions.

A:   I had been really furious about the Hide/Seek squabbles, for two reasons: the obvious was the fact that the gallery bent to the qualms of one conservative senator who doesn't even live here, and secondly, that the piece was elevated to this martyr status and to be honest I don't even think it was that interesting a piece of art.

I mean, if you go to Jerusalem there are probably ants crawling on crosses all over the place. I mean, ANTS? Its not like there are maggots, or some other symbol of putrid decay or something like that. I mean, ants are hive bugs, I mean they are ARMY bugs and they are super strong.

SO really, this thing has super strong army bugs crawling on the cross so ants are this amazingly edifying symbol for christians, you know, onward christian soldier!

So anyway, the other problem was people were kind of waiting for Patti to come and deliver the gospel to us, and when she got here she was basically like "shut up guys, this isn't my problem."

And that was the biggest revelation to me and was the source epiphany of my piece I wrote for

Q:  You write for BYT!  We've read some of your reviews, you're a freaking riot.  You've said that you appreciate how they give their writers such  license & freedom to write exactly what they want.  What has this meant to you as a writer? 
A:  It's become a hub, and that's been good for everyone in show-biz because of its character in posting arts events. Characteristically you get posted if your event is well put together, and is looking to be a big romp. Really, people who do house shows wouldn't want it posted on a popular website anyway.

As a writer though, it's been amazing because there isn't really a pitch process for me. I sometimes bounce ideas off of Libby just to see what she thinks, but I could really go nuts on anything I want. That isn't to say I'd write total nonsense just to be irreverent, but I could definitely try things out without worrying that an editor will try to reel me in.

I started with BYT in 2009 when I went to SXSW in Austin, and Libby had heard about my facebook videos which were this like inside joke between me and some people I knew, and one of these people included me in some top ten list of 2008...ANYWAY, Libby asked me to make a video of SXSW, and I shot and edited the thing in Austin, and uploaded it to youtube. 


After that I did a bunch of interviews and show reviews, and few one off pieces (I did this best of wikipedia thing where I just posted all my favorite weirdo pages).

I hit a real stride with my advice column, which was pretty popular there for a while, and I got a lot of readership that was outside of the normal set for BYT (lawyers and staffers and such).

Since then, I've just been doing pieces like the Cyndi Lauper show or the Patti Smith thing, where I write on stuff I'm particularly invested in either emotionally, or chemically.

Q:  "The Folly" is a literary journal that you are spear heading with a colorful cast of others.  Who is involved, what is your vision & when is the first issue coming out?!

A:   Editorial Board:
General Manager of Marvin, poet, actor, playwright, and performance artist.
-Adrian Parsons
Performance artist, member of the band Exactly.
-Jennifer Jeremias
Co-Founder of Bored of Trade, and Tooth and Nail craft fair 
-Holly Thomas
Washington Post, writer
Comedian, actor, and writer
-Ryan Hunter Mitchell
Celebrity hair stylist, musician, and writer
-Haley Dolan
Bread of Many Stationary, proprietor
-Madeleine Starkey

Our creative support at large:
-Philippa Hughes
-Lora Moinkoff
-Svetlana Legetic
Brightest Young Things
-Glodine Young
The Fridge, artspace

The journal is the brainchild of myself and Lex Paulson, and we sort of drunkenly said we would do it, and I guess Lex is of the Hemingway ilk-- doing everything you said you would do when drunk-- and forced me to pony up and actually do it. So we made a list of the most interesting people we know and in one week had our first meeting on the roof of Madame's Organ. The people at the first meeting are largely the ones who stuck around, and we picked up some really cool people since then.

My "vision" is more about my taste in writing which is really simple. I feel like I've always known these kinds of people who don't really self identify as writers or as writerly or as literary types, but they will write something on their facebook or their blog and its AMAZING or hilarious, or brilliant just because they themselves are one of those three things, and so it's like they are better than writers because they are writing out of a compulsion instead of a practice. So I just wanted to ask interesting people to write me whatever they wanted to write about, and I could trust that whatever they gave me would be great.

Q:  You and local artist Adrian Parson are going to be curating visual art shows!  What can we look forward to?  Art, MUSIC, secret shows???

A:  Same shtick, different media. We'll be showing artists who aren't really artists. It's called Freaking Nobodies, and it's going to happen in January at Red Door most likely.  

Q:  Finally, what are the 5 songs (and artists) that have been looping on your iPod this week?

A:  I made you a primary list and an alternate list:

Ellen Foley- We belong to the night
Moon Duo- Stumbling 22nd St
Sinead O’connor- i want your (hands on me)
Oppenheimer Analysis- Don't be seen with me
Tori Amos- Winter

Mazzy Star- Ride It On (live- the black session- paris 1993)
Yaz- Only You
Kurt Vile and the Violators- Good Lookin’ Out
Communards- Don't Leave Me This Way
Psychic TV- Have Mercy 

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