Imagine the Sharks and the Jets getting together to throw a sock hop, the Hatfields and the McCoys joining forces for a housewarming, the Democrats and the Republicans building a mutual float for the Independence Day parade.
Cooperation between Avalon Attractions and the Nederlander Organization would seem about as likely. But the two big concert promoters, persistent and heated feuders on the Southern California pop scene, have formed an unusual marriage of necessity to stage five upcoming Southland concerts by Guns N’ Roses.
The two sides started out by jostling, as usual, for the right to stage shows by Los Angeles’ hottest hometown attraction.
According to Alex Hodges, who heads Nederlander’s West Coast concert operations, "(Avalon) made their pitch, and we made our pitch, and (Guns N’ Roses’) representatives came up with this (co-promotion idea) as kind of a compromise in the band’s home territory.”
The Guns N’ Roses show at the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa on July 25 (the band will also play four subsequent co-promoted dates at the Forum in Los Angeles) will mark the first time Avalon and Nederlander have worked together in Orange County, where Nederlander’s Pacific Amphitheatre annually battles the Avalon-booked Irvine Meadows to land the most lucrative pop attractions.
It’s not unusual for touring bands and their business agents to practice a form of pop diplomacy aimed at keeping good relationships with both Avalon and Nederlander. That is commonly done by hiring one promoter to put on a Los Angeles date, then turning to its rival to handle an Orange County performance.
In a statement released by its publicist, Bryn Bridenthal, Guns N’ Roses and its management said: “Both (Avalon and Nederlander) have been great to us in the past, so why should one be a loser? We’d like to make sure the fans are taken care of. Working with both promoters alleviates any potential problems.”
There have been a few occasions in the past in which bands asked Avalon and Nederlander to co-promote. But in those cases, Hodges said, the cooperation was merely nominal: One company would do all the work, while the other was involved in name (and profit share) only.
This time, the two old enemies are dividing the labor evenly, splitting such tasks as placing ads, generating media exposure for the shows and staging the actual events.
“There has been daily contact on everything” between the two promoters, Hodges said. “If there’s any back-stabbing, nobody’s seen it so far. There isn’t any.”
Jennifer Perry, the Avalon promoter who is doing much of the hands-on work for the Guns N’ Roses dates, said it has helped that she and her counterpart at Nederlander, Rich Meaney, have a long-standing friendship established before they went to work for the two rival companies.
“Everything is fine,” Perry said. “I talk to Rich 20 times a day, because there’s so much to go over. If we weren’t friends, it would be harder.”
But don’t look for this one-time experiment with mutuality to lead to further cooperation in the future.
“We’re not going to try to find” opportunities to do more joint promoting, Perry said. “We’re still competitors.”
THEATER REVIVAL: After several sporadic, failed attempts to revive the Miramar Theatre in San Clemente as a regular venue for films and rock concerts over the past few years, new owners are trying again.
This time there will be more follow-through, according to Greg Norris, who is managing the theater for a partnership of three San Clemente-based real estate investors, Wendy Cosgrove, Robert Ramos and Bob Farnell.
“Simon Hiller (the previous owner) lived up in Hollywood and didn’t have time to go back and forth to promote the theater,” said Norris, who is Cosgrove’s son. “We live right here in San Clemente. We’re going to do everything we can to keep the thing going.”
The main priority is to establish the 1937-vintage Miramar as a movie house, Norris said (the new management has renovated the theater and is investing in new projection and sound equipment for films). But the 600-seat Miramar also is available for concerts if outside promoters are interested in bringing rock shows to San Clemente. Since it reopened in May, the Miramar has hosted a surf film and three reggae concerts.
Stewart Moore, a music business entrepreneur based in San Clemente, said Tuesday that he is trying to organize a regular schedule of all-ages weekend concerts at the Miramar, with showcases for upcoming Los Angeles and Orange County bands on Fridays and concerts by established acts on Saturdays.
The first name rocker to play the reopened Miramar will be Paul Cotton, the former Poco guitarist, who will perform July 20 with his new band. Moore said he also is booking a local band concert for July 19.
“I love the theater and want to get it happening,” the promoter said. “We’re hoping to have music there every weekend. The key is consistency with programming.”
Also booked at the Miramar is “Sunrock ’91,” a daylong bill of 10 local hard-rock bands running Saturday from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. Dr. Strange, Flesh, Heartbreaker and Shadow top the bill, which is being staged by Raymond Springsteel, a Huntington Beach-based promoter who sees the Miramar as an alternative to the pay-to-play club system that predominates on the Southern California hard-rock scene. Springsteel will pay the bands playing at the Miramar.
“The Miramar Theatre is a place we’re very happy to have bumped into,” Springsteel said. “If (Saturday’s show) works out, we’ll try to do more in August.”
For information on the Cotton and Sunrock shows, call the theater at (714) 361-3113.
SEVENTH DAY: Having established itself as a Friday night alternative rock fixture at the Newport Roadhouse in Costa Mesa, the New Klub on the Block is trying to expand to Sunday afternoons as well. Delicious Mind Garden and Black Creep will play Sunday at 3 p.m. in what NKOTB’s promoter, Craig McGahey, hopes will be the first in a regular series of daytime shows.
“There used to be matinees at the Cuckoo’s Nest,” McGahey noted, recalling the defunct Costa Mesa club that launched Orange County’s punk rock boom in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. “On Sundays, people want to go out and have a good time, but get home early. (The Newport Roadhouse) wanted to give us a Tuesday night, but I didn’t think a Tuesday would float as well as a Sunday matinee.” Information: (714) 650-1840.
SWEET RETREAT: Nikki Sweet, part of the Coach House management staff for the past 5 1/2 years, has left her many-hatted job at the San Juan Capistrano concert club to take a job in concert promotion with the Nederlander Organization in Los Angeles. Among her Coach House duties, Sweet was in charge of booking local bands for the club’s occasional local showcase nights, and for coveted slots opening for national headliners.
“One thing I’ll really miss is working with the local talent. That was a really rewarding thing for me,” Sweet said last week. “When I first started working here, I didn’t know what a (performer’s) contract was. I was given a funky old desk and a phone and told, ‘Go.’ It’s been a great experience working here. It’s been a stepping stone. Hopefully, I’m on to bigger things.”
Sweet’s successor, Marc Solferino, has worked at the Coach House for two years, first as an assistant to Sweet, then to Ken Phebus, the club’s concert director. Solferino, 22, is also the lead guitarist for a San Clemente rock band, Loveless.
Among his other duties (including publicity and promotion), Solferino inherits Sweet’s portfolio as local band booker. He said Tuesday that he expects no changes in the way the Coach House books local music: “We are going to do local shows here and there, and book local acts as support (for major headliners). There are bands calling me already. Nikki left me a big list of who she liked, and how they did for us here.”
BATTLE OF THE BLUES: Local blues groups who want a shot at playing on a bill with B.B. King, Robert Cray and John Lee Hooker have a few more days to submit entries for the Long Beach Blues Festival Talent Search. Cassette entries, no more than 10 minutes long, should be postmarked by Monday and sent to Long Beach Blues Festival, FM 88/KLON, 1945 Palo Verde, Suite 204, Long Beach, Calif., 90815.
KLON, which sponsors the festival, will choose four L.A. area bands to compete live in regional semifinals. The winner will go up against regional champions from New York, Chicago, New Orleans and Kansas City in live competition that will determine who gets to open the festival on Sept. 7.
Performers on the tape must be the same as those who would participate in the competition. Information: (213) 985-5566.