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Flats, Sharps & Other Notes from a Misfit Music Club Owner

by John Jeter

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-1891885-99-0
Publisher: Hub City Press

Musical memoir from the owner of venerable Greenville, S.C., music venue The Handlebar.

Ex-journalist turned club promoter Jeter assures readers that all the hard work, sacrifice, frustration and disappointment that went into building and sustaining his dream “Listening Room” has been worth it. Played mostly in minor keys, The Handlebar’s history is rife with tour managers constantly demanding too much, patrons expecting too much and city inspectors withholding too much. The admittedly naïve author explains how he found himself frequently holed up inside his closet-sized office breaking down over that night’s dismal receipts. It all started out so gloriously, of course, in the early 1990s, when Jeter and his brother decided to throw caution to the wind and rent out space inside a largely abandoned textile factory on the outskirts of town. Although they had absolutely no experience booking performers or running a music venue, they were convinced that they could make it work. What they didn’t count on, however, was a cavalcade of obnoxious tour managers, boorish artists and impossible city officials constantly getting in their way. While these encounters are mostly sketchy, the fallout is heartbreakingly real and begs the question, why? The money never seems to have been there (at least not enough of it), and for every transcendental night with Joan Baez or John Mayer, there appears to have been 10 hellacious nights with snotty eccentrics demanding costumed hamsters in their contract riders. Jeter’s brother eventually decided to leave the business, but the author, with Herculean help from his wife, hung in there, and The Handlebar is still rocking.

A hard, sobering look at what it really takes to bring live music to the fans.