From what I know about Mike Black n' Blue, he is a stand up guy....a rather tall and intimidating stand up guy, but a stand up guy nonetheless. Mike has brought Bogie's in Albany NY back from the dead and has continued to promote at other venues in the region as well.
FYI: Interview format is strictly "question and answer" to expedite things.
At what point in your sane life did you decide to book your first show? Was it for your own band or your friend’s band?
MBNB: I decided it was time around 2003. There seemed to be a lack of good hardcore in the upstate/Albany region. Previously, I booked all my own shows that were metal/hardcore in the 90's, it wasn't consistent though.
How did you mentally prepare for your first show? Was it a major event where you had to rent a hall or something completely under the radar in a basement?
MBNB: Menatlly prepare?? Haha, no, didn't need to mentally prepare, it was my band at the time and I new it would be a good draw........until I got ripped of by the club owner. I'm not going to trash talk and it shall rename nameless as to where it was.
Was there frustration within the local scene where you were at the time that was the major catalyst for throwing all caution (and sanity) to the wind to get into promoting bands?
MBNB: Oh there's still frustration, it's an uphill battle but at the time, it was very frustrating. I owned the Hudson Duster in Troy NY in 2003 and I wanted to see Murphy's Law but was sick of paying a lot at other venues. I did a $5 show, it was packed and I knew the bar would do great!
What has changed within the scene locally or on a larger scale from when you first started?
MBNB: For one, the scene is real clicky now. There's a lot of "self-entitled" assholes out there who make it a point to be known. Before Facebook and even My Space, people actually went out to try and see what the bands were about. Now what I've been seeing is that if it doesn't have 5000 likes they discard it.
What is the most frustrating aspect of promoting, dealing with venues/spaces and bands? Does anything stand out?
MBNB: That's easy, money. Everyone from bands, to patrons, to booking agents think you make a million and you're loaded. That's BULLSHIT. This is a hobby and not a living. I will accept a certain amount of loss but when people abuse that, and give you unwanted cost on top of your loss (ie: lawsuits, damage, bad attention, etc), its extremely frustrating. The bands DON'T work half as hard as they used to, it's a fact.
On the flipside, what has been the most satisfying aspect of promoting?
MBNB: That's easy, the kids saying thanks!
Did you ever consider stopping this altogether or do you feel that you enjoy the good and the bad?
MBNB: Honestly, I want to quit once a week. It's an addiction though.
MBNB: I'd love to get Hatebreed or even Slayer in a small club, like Bogie's, for a private show inviting a select group of 100 kids that are worthy of such a show.
Booking agents run the entire spectrum, any fun (or not so fun) stories of dealing with any in particular (without naming names of course)?
MBNB: Agents for the most part are the devil. Most of the expenses that I have are because of them but at the same time, in order to get some of the bands in here, they're a necessary evil unfortunately.
If you could change one thing about the scene as a whole, what might that be?
MBNB: That's easy, two things really. Lower prices and scene unity.
Have you ever considered scaling back operations and booking less/booking more/keeping things the same?
MBNB: I try to book quality not quantity for certain genres, but I run a club so scaling back is not an option when it comes to paying the bills.
Do you find yourself ever working with bands or performers because you like them as people but don’t like their music? How do you handle the diplomacy?
MBNB: This is something I have to do all the time. I am a sucker for a polite band and will try to package them differently if they are a bad draw. Diplomacy only goes so far and eventually they will hate me for whatever reason.
Promoting in general seems to be getting more challenging as technology advances, where do you see the future of promoting headed?
MBNB: Pretty soon people won't leave their house at all. Even less than they do now because it's all on the computer. Maybe they'll pay $5 to watch while you have a drink all while watching on your laptop. It's sad, but I can see that day coming. CBGB's ** actually did live streaming of their shows.
Mike is bringing many bands up to the Capital Region and beyond this summer, be on the look out for what he's got cooking. Check them out there http://www.upstateblacknblue.com/
Both Black Flag and Agnostic Front are playing in June!
**This is not one of CBGB's archived live streams as best I can tell, their streams had more fixed camera footage than anything else. I could be wrong.