The Rocks' New Bookie Has Big Plans for the Venue

Sam Jones wants Petaluma to shake that thing

I pull over when I spy estate sale signs. Maybe you pull over for free puppies or community vegetable boxes. But if Sam Jones has his way, we will all be pulling over any time we see his IIIE logo on a marquee or light pole.

As the newest “bookie” at tasked with attracting and promoting bands and musical talent, Jones is building his own brand while producing live shows in the North Bay.

“To me IIIE means, three elements: the fans are first, second come musicians and I’m the bookie, the third element that links them. My dream, besides having my own “Bookie Guru” reality show is reaching the point where people notice a IIIE event and just pull over… just buy that ticket, ‘cause they know it’s going to be a good show,” said Jones.

With the “why not?” confidence of Bill Graham, Jones is quickly mastering the club booking ropes, identifying up and coming bands and getting folks in the door at his $5 shows Thursday nights at The Rocks. If a band is unplugged with “gray groupies,” he uses old school marketing, handing out fliers at open-air markets or beaches.

For bands with built-in online fans, Jones utilizes Facebook or blasts email to fill the venue. He's been booking every Thursday night, which is the only live music night at The Rocks since May. He is the IIIE host with sponsors including Matchless Tattoo out of Sebastopol and Mercy Med out of Cotati.

“The minute Sam heard our CD, he wanted to book us. His enthusiasm and willingness to work with us has been entirely different from experiences we’ve had elsewhere,” said Jonathan Hall of Petaluma who plays in an indie band called The Mushrooms.

“It seems like every bar wants bands that play only blues, funk or old covers because the bookers think that’s what their customers want to hear. But that old music has been played to death!” Hall said.

With all original music with mingled echoes of The Pixies and Guster, The Mushrooms have had to work hard to be heard.

“That’s why it’s been so refreshing to work with Sam. He just booked us for Oct. 13 with The Holy Child from Seattle as opening band. They’re your typical psychedelic, gospel rock band. Insane, yet charming,” said Hall.

If Jones looks familiar, it might be because he eats nearly every day at  on East Washington, where, until recently, he worked as a produce man, booking bands on the side.

He's put together shows at , Hopmonk Tavern, Aubergine After Dark, Cafe du Nord, Yoshi's and Biscuits and Blues in San Francisco, The Last Day Saloon in Santa Rosa, Ukiah Brewing Company, Ashkenaz, Penngrove Pub, The Tradewinds in Cotati, and Jasper O’Farrell’s in Sebastopol.

Jones is also band manager for The Coast Pilots and Jeremy Goodfeather and also books Petaluma siren Alma Desnuda, and Stomacher.

He’s come a long way from Idaho Falls, Idaho where he grew up. To see bands, he had to drive to the “Oz” of live music in spuds country, Boise.

Since arriving in Northern California in 2007 he’s worked a trainer in a health club, a green grocer and recently landed a radio show in Occidental at KOWS Radio, every other Sunday from 5 to 7 p.m.

“Everyone loves music. It’s the one thing everyone has in common. Putting the right music in the right venue and pulling in that audience. That’s what excites me,” said Jones.

OTF Rocks October 03, 2011 at 11:42 PM
Speaking of promotion: Tomorrow (Tuesday, Oct 4th), Over The Falls and Big Hurt at the Elbo Room, 647 Valencia, SF, 9pm... ohhh yeah. Also, we've never played a show at The Rocks where we didn't have to supply our own PA, so I don't know what the hell @livinthedream is talking about.
Samuel Aaron Jones October 04, 2011 at 02:26 AM
Show's for October @The Rocks October 6th: Timothy O'Neil Band w/Sally Haggard and Tony Gibons October 13th: The Mushrooms w/Holy Child (from Seattle) October 20th: Gentry Bronson w/The Coast Pilots and Endoxi (from San Diego) October 27th: Bam/Vox! w/Motivenation (from L.A.) November 3rd: Domenic Bianco w/Simple Creations (from Sacramento) December 1st: Ama Evoloution (from San Fransisco) Need a headliner for this one.. The Rocks now provides sound/PA by Scoot's Audio. (Scotty Schipper and Dylan Chambers) Photo for this article by Anine Oliver Photography Thanks for your feedback everyone! Good or bad.. That's why they call it feedback. "A smooth sea never makes a skillful mariner."- Proverb Much respect.
DesignIsEverything October 04, 2011 at 11:59 PM
I guess haters will hate. I wish those that are trashing the good news of a young guy trying his best to create a buzz for musicians in the North Bay, knew how much he is doing for new artists out there. I'm sorry you had a bad experience, but calling the guy cheap or say that he is taking your money, is downright shameful. If you knew what went into promoting shows and working with last minute changes from random young (and old) bands, who don't necessarily deserve the respect they demand, you would not be making such strong convictions. Your statements, frankly, hold no merit. I've seen this guy promote bands that would otherwise never receive the buzz, and taken nothing in his pocket in the end, except for the joy of making his and your dreams come true for musicians alike. You should probably step into his shoes before you make harsh comments like that. And if you had a bad experience, why not make amends, be clear of your expectations (like any other business minded individual), and give it another shot with a motivated person that will surely make an impression in the industry in the very near future. This article is your first example.
OTF December 02, 2011 at 04:33 PM
Another voice from Over The Falls here. As previously stated we have only done one show with IIIE, and that one show we were not even aware that there was a promoter until we arrived at the show. That being said I do not think that we even have the experience or history with this promoter to form a thorough or in depth opinion. It was not a bad experience. It was not a great experience.
Corinne Reif December 02, 2011 at 05:02 PM
UPDATE - It's now the holiday season. Time for good will, thankfulness and brotherly love to shine though our sometimes seemingly gray day to day lives. Sam and our band have spoken and pached up our differences - both with humility and respect as we are all here "for the Music". We worked together on another show to try and start fresh - This time IIE made the effort and came through for the bands. There were mini poster cards, electric sign listing the shows for the month at the club in the front window, some facebook promotion, a great sound system and two wonderful sound engineers provided and a very fair cut of the evening's take. We all learn from each other and so long as we all grow and progress from our experiences then the lesson has been a good one. Sam has now made the effort to really listen to what the bands need to feel appreciated and in turn, greatly improved band/promoter relations. Each show should be treated as important no matter what venue or night of the week it is on. It is important in the eyes of the band members who spend countless hours rehearsing for those few shining moments on stage and, most importantly, in the ears of people who have taken their time and money to come out to hear live music (which sadly seems to be a dying commodity in these days of DJs and dance music). It takes time to obtain excellence in any job and this was definitely a step in the right direction. Lets all keep moving forward. Happy Holidays


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