doc martens uk cheap Meet the man behind Lockn’
He started off small, promoting his first show out of sheer necessity.
“I was playing in a band, and all our equipment was stolen,” explains Dave Frey, co founder of the Lockn’ music festival, which gets underway in Nelson County for the second year this Thursday.
“So this club owner did a benefit for us, and I went to the local radio station, gave away tickets and got the guy at the paper to write it up,” he says. “The show did really well, and the guy who booked the club decided to quit. So the owner said, ‘Hey, you did a good job. Can you book the club for a couple weeks until I find a new guy?'”
It was the early ’80s, a decade before grunge arrived to scrub the smeared makeup off the faces of hair metal bands everywhere. Still, during the Reagan era, as well as the heyday of flannel shirts, Doc Martens and deafening distortion, business was good.
By 1985, Frey had relocated from his native Chicago to the Big Apple, where he took a job as a booking agent, working alongside two of the city’s leading promoters, Ron Delsener, who the New York Times once referred to as “Rock’s Mr. In Between,” and the late Bill Graham, who played a leading role in pop music’s emergence as a cultural force, overseeing tours for the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead and others. (Horizons of Rock Developing Everywhere) Festival.
It became a kind of rival to the more alternative swing of Lollapalooza, enjoying a seven year run while attracting an eclectic array of performers ranging from Beck to Neil Young.
Then, in 2008, Frey migrated to Charlottesville, where he and partner Peter Shapiro would soon begin planning what’s likely become the largest musical gathering to hit Central Virginia.
Read on to learn more about the inspiration behind Lockn’, why location is key when organizing an event for thousands of concertgoers and the truth regarding the sale of libations at this year’s festival, despite attempts by the state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to suspend Lockn’s beer and wine permit.
What’s one of the more difficult challenges to putting on a music festival that people wouldn’t realize?
“That’s a tough one. I always say, ‘You’re always going to have problems; you just hope they’re good ones to have.’ Things change, ya know? You’ve got neighbors, the bureaucracy, the permitting officials. As far as the challenges of it, though, for me, I find that stuff I just mentioned a little more difficult at times. It’s hard to get all the entities that aren’t necessarily working for you to work together as a team.”
Makes sense. Now, there’s been a bit of misunderstanding and confusion surrounding this next topic, but one of the questions on the minds of most is whether or not you’ll have any booze this year. So will you?
“Yes. We have a beer and wine permit. It’s fully in effect. The [ABC] allegations pending are merely that. And they will not be addressed until after the event, so those allegations, if they affect anything, would affect 2015, not 2014.”
You don’t seem too worried about it.
“Not at all. They’re meritless. And, yeah, I’ll just reiterate that the pending allegations are meritless. That’s my quote.”
Fair enough. Let’s switch gears. How do you even start figuring out what types of bands you should book?
“Oh, that’s easy. Peter and I have a conversation about a show that we’d want to see. That’s it. Festival in the ’90s sort of informed your approach to Lockn’?
“Yeah, I think so. It’s just doing the stuff that makes sense, ya know? The situation was right for it because I really have a great partner in Peter Shapiro. And we’re old friends, and we have a very similar ethos about business and how to do things. We’ve been kind of discussing doing something like this for a while, and it was just a matter of finding the right opportunity.”
So the Oak Ridge Estate must have felt like that right opportunity?
“Well, we’d been looking for over a year at different places to do it. Then Michael Allenby, [co founder of the Festy Experience] , showed me this site, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is amazing.'”
Location, location, location, huh?
“I think that’s the first thing. You have to have a great place. You’re basically giving people an excuse to go where they’d want to go anyway. But there really are three things: the actual place, the location and the timing. You want to be out in the middle of nowhere, but, at the same time, be nearby to everything. And I think this location qualifies in that respect also. and an hour and a half from Richmond. Then there’s Charlottesville, Roanoke and Lynchburg.
“And you also have to try and pick your timing just right. What weekend is available that makes sense? So you’re not on the same weekend as Bonnaroo, or Coachella, or Outside Lands, or Electric Forest or any of the others. And we really felt like this was a good weekend. September usually has the lowest count as far as precipitation goes. It’s cooler. It’s nice. So those are the three things.”
Are you surprised at how much the music industry has changed over the years?
“Yeah, a little bit. I just feel lucky to still be in the business [laughs] . Ya know, everything’s just constantly changing, so you can’t really sit back and rest on your laurels. You gotta keep up with everything and basically keep reinventing yourself.”
Have you done that with Lockn’?
“Well, there isn’t a formula that always works because every situation is different. Like if you’re a band, or a manager, or somebody working around a band, you have to just I guess if there was a formula, there would just be one manager, who’d be managing all the bands, and one record company putting out all the records. But people need to react to it. That’s a hard thing to gauge. And it’s definitely a popularity contest.”
Do you miss that era of rock ‘n’ roll where it seemed like the overall musicianship, the quality of artists, was just better?