Dave Mann's Very Own D.C. Rock Scene This spring, a 32-year-old dude from Brookland convinced 125 bands to play the inaugural Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie Festival for free. It was so fun he's about to do it again.

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Ask someone what they think of Dave Mann, and the answer often involves the word “ambitious.” It’s usually a compliment. Sort of.

“I would call him a force of nature,” says Megan Petty, a local music blogger who is helping to organize the second Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie Music Festival, which begins Saturday. “He’s more motivated than most people I’ve ever met, and he actually can make stuff happen.”

“He’s truly a gem of a person and always a pleasure to work with,” writes Arthur Harrison, a thereminist who played in Mann’s now-defunct band Twins of a Gazelle.

“Dave does a lot of stuff and all of it has worked out really well,” says Emily Chimiak, a violinist and singer who’s worked on a number of Mann’s projects. “Maybe [some of] it was a little too ambitious; it’s yet to be seen.”

“I think he’s a really sincere, ambitious guy,” says Pat Walsh, who books benefit shows for the punk-rock activist group Positive Force. “He’s kind of outside the normal structures.”

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“Dave Mann is the kind of guy who lives his life in exclamation points,” says his Mittenfields bandmate Sam Sherwood.

Of course, like a lot of ambitious people—especially in a scene that aestheticizes the understatement—Mann also tends to be thought of as, well, weird.

“I don’t want to say anything mean, but his behavior’s very capricious, music-wise,” says Matthew Malamud, who played violin in Twins of a Gazelle. “He gets these grand schemes and tries to execute them, and then gets distracted by something else.”

“I’m really surprised you’re writing an article about him,” says James Wolff, a New York-based musician who worked with Mann in Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie—when it was a band, not a festival. “I don’t know why he continues to do it. He doesn’t know music.”

I made Mann’s acquaintance in October 2009, when I wrote a couple of short City Paper items about Spelling for Bees, a supposedly 40-member musicians’ collective Mann had founded earlier that year. Since then, he has been a prolific, mostly amusing, and always enthusiastic presence in emails, Google chats, and Facebook messages. He does, indeed, live his life in exclamation points.

Often, Mann will ask me to write about one of his bands or devote some ink to his latest project, like the music licensing company he started in 2009 (it has since fizzled) or his short-lived band-management concern (it’s currently inactive). Sometimes he sends me instrumental demos and asks for my opinion.

Once, he suggested I write a story exploring the question “Is ‘indie rock’ the new ‘alternative?’” I don’t think I responded.

I didn’t meet Mann in person until this March, when he invited me to a private show at his house in Brookland. I was the only person who showed up.

Like booking bands for a festival only to realize that you can’t pay them, inviting a journalist to a show where no one has turned out is the kind of thing that might make a lot of people cringe with shame. Not Mann, who didn’t seem bothered by the non-audience.

And, as it happened, it was a good time: Mann’s band, Mittenfields, has three guitarists, and may have more pedals than its members have digits. Mann sings in off-key warbles and yelps, like Arcade Fire’s Win Butler, if Arcade Fire’s Win Butler were completely, unapologetically unhinged. Yet in the context of Mittenfields’ shoegazing maximalism, the vocals more or less make sense: The songs mix ’90s post-rock dynamics with a slacker-rock lilt, stumbling toward catharsis.

Mann doesn’t read sheet music, or have a background in theory, but he frequently recruits classically trained musicians. He doesn’t pen music and lyrics separately, like many songwriters do: Rather, he’ll sit down with a bass or acoustic guitar and sing what comes into his head, or ad lib while his band jams, and listen to the tapes later.

“Dave has a lot of song ideas, and he has a sort of unique ability to spew out lyrics on the fly,” says Mittenfield’s Sherwood. “The side-effect of that is that no lyrics are ever set in stone until things are finally done in the studio.” For some reason, in one Mittenfields song, Mann name-drops Kevin Drew, the leader of the Canadian indie-rock collective Broken Social Scene. “I don’t want to ask Dave what the songs mean,” says Sherwood, “because I don’t want to make him think about it too much.”

Mann sometimes writes song parts in fragments, and because he lacks formal training, he frequently takes bandmates’ ideas in unexpected directions, almost like a musical savant. Oftentimes, when his collaborators are patient, it works. The same, it could be said, goes for his efforts at organizing something as big and new as Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie.

Dave Mann mix by Washington City Paper

Our Readers Say

Were people really put off by the bio I wrote? It was clearly credited to me and, since I wasn't handling publicity for STPP there's no way in I hell I would send it. I don't know why Dave would take heat for that--what one-sheet doesn't, y'know, talk up the subject of said one-sheet?

Also, since it didn't make it into the piece, I'd like to point out that I gave Dave shit about non-payment only because I knew there were bands coming from out of town and I did think they, at least, should've been consulted first; we in the Jet Age were only slightly non-plussed. :P -E
“I’m really surprised you’re writing an article about him... I don’t know why he continues to do it. He doesn’t know music.”

This is one of the truest things anyone said in the article, and I can't believe you just let it go without commenting on it or delving further. In an interview for STPP 1.0 he said the Black Keys and another band, I can't remember the name at the moment, were exactly the same because they both only had two members.
Props to Dave for his ambition and his concept. DC's music scene needs help, and Dave is working hard to improve it.

The only problem is that his ambition and his concept don't match what bands themselves want to get out of such festivals. STPP ended up being about the STPP moniker. The focus was about puttin on a big honkin' fest and printing t-shirts rather than making sure bands were happy (or paid, or had sound systems, or weren't sent to another venue at the last minute).

Instead of having, say, 20 solid and diverse bands at decent venues with sound systems, the first STPP had 125 (many were mediocre indie rock bands) at hole in the wall joints with no sound systems.

STPP still has lots of potential. But quality bands in DC (and, yes they are out there) aren't gonna want to play at taco joints and fend for themselves with sound systems. Maybe they'll play for free for a good cause, but for now the cause seems to be building STPP's brand. Maybe next year, it will be something more serious -- better venues that actually care about music, more diverse music (not just obscure indie rock) and the audience.
Props to a man making things happen in the DC scene. Go big or go home.
"he was booking shows at Bella almost every night of the week, offering residencies to local bloggers, bands, and the Sonic Circuits Festival of Experimental Music."

Offering "residencies" to Sonic Circuits, huh? See that's kind of interesting cause I was on a bill for Sonic Circuits this year that this guy booked at Bella and 2 days before the show we find out, not from him, that the place is closed for renovations. Good job Dave! Way to show off your outsize ambition!

Believe it or not, my other interaction with this douche was even worse. My band was supposed to play at one of these "alternative spaces" this guy likes to book but we booked it through someone else. A week before the show it turns out the owner double-booked it with Mr. Mann and there's an extra four bands on the bill. No problem, we think, it's a 2-story venue and I'm sure we can work something out. Nope! Dude is super passive-aggressive on the phone, refuses to move it to Bella because "I don't book metal shows there" and in general goes out of his way to be a gigantic pain in the ass.

Night of the show, we get there and it turns out it's in fact triple-booked! So we are sharing the downstairs space with a couple of bands Dave Mann booked while the other 2 bands from his show have wisely dropped out. And of course, he doesn't show up to try and somehow rectify his idiocy because he's "on a date." Which is funny cause this article says he's married, maybe he's one of these newfangled "polyamorists?"

DC bands: If you don't want to get screwed over by a booker who will put you in venues that are completely not suitable for shows with awful PA's and double-booking owners, and leave you hanging when things go south, DO NOT WORK WITH THIS GUY. Seriously.
Reason # 3,147 DC sucks for bands. Maybe you should be writing about Steve Lambert and how he's managed to kill the DC music scene with one hand...the other is constantly patting himself on the back.
@A.: http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/artsdesk/music/2010/02/17/sins-of-admission-why-it%E2%80%99s-a-problem-when-a-club-asks-who-are-you-here-to-see/
As one very astute interviewee said in the article, Dave is a very ambitious, sincere guy. Said interviewee also called Dave quixotic a lot, I can assure you. He really is the most quixotic fella I've ever met, and the DC music scene is his Dulcinea. I get that some people may have complaints since not everything he tries works perfectly, but at least he's out there trying and not just to make money.

Speaking of which, can we just talk some more about how terrible Steve Lambert is and how door polling is completely insulting to every single person involved. I've walked out the door when they tried to door poll at DC9 (also because that club is terrible) and are any clubs anywhere more poorly managed than Rock'n'Roll Hotel? Do they get anything right for trying to make a good concert experience?
Hey BW,

I think he was comparing The Black Keys to Simon and Garfunkle. I mean, who doesn't confuse those two acts?!?

Really?!?

Here is the interview: http://dissonance.libsyn.com/5-17-11-sweet-tea-pumpkin-pie

The band is Courtesy. I didn't quite have the quote right. He says, "They're a duo so they have a Black Keys vibe to them." It's around the 12 minute mark. Still don't see a relation to the Black Keys other than them both having two members. And I think that goes to the crux of Mann, he just throws out terms and buzz words that sound good but make no sense.
Dude, PTRQ, I know this door-polling thing really gets your goat (we had a little back and forth on this on PoP a few weeks back) and I somewhat agree with you (although not bringing anyone out and expecting an equal cut is equally bullshit in my opinion).

Dave Mann though, I don't know. This whole "he's quirky and weird and doesn't quite know what he's doing but at least he's doing it!" thing doesn't really sit well with me. Get your shit together before you start trying to improve things. Otherwise you'll just end up fucking them up even more. DC music scene has more than its share of problems as is.

My question to you was: How does one book at the DIY houses (Hole in the Sky, St Stephens, etc)? I remember you mentioned you do this on PoP and wanted to try and get in contact with you cause I've got some friends coming through in the winter that would be perfect for a show at one of those. Let me know man.
Listening now. So he could have chosen any band that consisted of a duo, right? Sounds like he chose a band that had similarities to The Black Keys. Also, you might want to google "the courtesy tier the black keys" because if you did you would come up with something like this.

The Courtesy Tier | Map and a Marker | CD Baby
The Courtesy Tier is a two man cadre. Whether invoking Wilco, ZZ Top, Jimi Hendrix, or The Black Keys they synthesize the soul of rock with melodic blues.

www.cdbaby.com/cd/thecourtesytier

Just sayin.
@amethystdeceiver - Yeah, my goat is easily gotten, that's how I roll. And for booking stuff at St. Stephen's, you can just e-mail any ideas you have to DCPositiveForce at gmail dot com and we'll work with you to see what we can do. For other spaces/house show sort of stuff, just email me personally at pwalsh39 at gmail dot com and I can forward stuff to people I know.
I always mix up the black stripes and the white keys. Which ones do zebras have again?

Props to Jonathan for the excellent profile and props to Dave for being a good dude who's trying to make something out of the DC music scene.
@PTRQ:

Thanks man! Much appreciated.
@ amethystdeceiver - I booked one of the three shows that night at that venue with two bands.

Dave booked a show that night at the same venue with four bands. The owner also booked a party on the second floor for that night. Genius, no? Triple booking a venue that really can only handle one event at a time, but I blame the owner. I was on the phone with Dave that night. He was on a date and didn't make it to the show - dates with one's old lady happen. I also don't think he was passive aggressive about anything.

I ended up having to make the show a free show - Dave's was free, mine was $5 - to be fair to the fans of the bands I didn't book.

However, three of the bands he booked didn't play and one of the bands I booked refused to play when they saw what a mess the venue was in. I ended up paying that band out of pocket for just driving up from NC. At least I got a t-shirt?


That being said, this is the DC scene: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipg4EL_JUyE
@ @BW

I would never have thought of their sound being similar to the Black Keys if he hadn't mentioned it. And he didn't say anything about how their sounds were similar to each other in the slightest. He said they had a Black Keys vibe because they were also a duo. By that logic the Black Keys, as you already pointed out (maybe in jest), have an Outkast vibe. How about the guy say why a band is similar other than the most obvious and superficial way possible? Or are you getting at the fact that maybe he was just reading off their bio and it was not his opinion?

Also, I didn't think his example of them being like the Black Keys sounded like the Black Keys, so no reason to google.

P.S. This was a very good piece. Well done, Jonathan!
I'm just scratching my head as to why this is such a big deal to you and to think that you believe that this guy would just haphazardly say, well, this band is a duo so naturally, they are going to sound like this band (The Black Keys) because they are a duo too. That doesn't hold much weight, bw. But let me know the day when he states that Madonna (singer) sounds exactly like Tom Waits (Singer) because really, they both are vocalists so they must sound alike.
I'm in a band that's playing the fall STPP fest, and I just noticed that Metro is going to be closed all weekend between Shaw and Columbia Heights (inclusive). I blame myself for not knowing this in advance, because the press release was posted on Metro's website in January.

Other people should probably also blame themselves. Sayin'.
@ BW- What have you done to enhance the music scene other than bumping your gums and being ungrateful?
But can we all just take a second and appreciate the fact that there is a weekend of good, free music happening? That should be the most important part of this whole thing, in my humble opinion.
this dude is doing a good thing. most bands have no place to play in dc except their garage or basement. you can play jaxx, but you gotta pay. when sxsw started out in '86, it was done the same way. to this day sxsw only pays bands $600 or a badge.

some folks that know something about sound mixing should help out for free, it could be a good learning experience.

eventually this dude will either burn out or maybe this will light a fuse. gradually get bigger and better.

what are all the bigger local indie bands doing this weekend? probably nothing. staying home and watching tv. they play for free at fort reno.

there are so many different genres of music, if you do not like what someone else does that mean that person does not know music?

keep up the work!
Amition is one thing that stands out about Dave but he stands out no less for his brilliant compositions and performances. He takes beautiful melodies and chords from the air and then efficiently sets them into a clear structure,composing several songs at once this way... I don't know how he does it. I try to write quickly what he says but alot of it is lost. It's been really cool to compose with Dave. About his performances- I heard him sing solo acoustic songs, the notes and phrasing were precise and emotional. And he can be described as a 'battery' for the louder stuff,- without moments notice he disregards the conventional musicy stuff and infuses the songs with pure energy and no notes. I wear earplugs to those shows.
Dave Mann is the most selfless man in the DC scene. In all my years of music, I've never seen someone work this hard for free. He is an inspiration.

"STPP ended up being about the STPP moniker. The focus was about puttin on a big honkin' fest and printing t-shirts".

OF COURSE he's building the brand, SO THAT PEOPLE WILL COME SEE THE BANDS. Marketing is not fun, and the bands benefit hugely from all that Dave does to promote the festival.

Regarding double bookings and other complaints, every operation has hiccups, and to demand perfection is absurd.
When someone has a mental illness, and in some cases a quite severe mental illness, you don't write an interview or article about them, you have them seek help.

I am going to repeat this so people understand it. When someone has a mental illness, and in some cases a quite severe mental illness, you don't write an interview or article about them, you have them seek help.
In business there is the 80/20 rule. It's just a rule of thumb. It basically says that you can do 80% of the work in 20% of the time, but the most complicated 20% of the work will take 80% of the time.

Dave Mann is doing the easiest 80% of the work. He's spending 20% of the amount of time a professional would put into such a project. 20% of the project is totally f*cked up and a failure. Instead of recognizing that it's his responsibility to do 100% of the work, such as PAYING THE BANDS WHO PLAY AT HIS FESTIVAL, he plays pretend that he books shows.

Let's make this 100% clear- STPP is NOT a music festival, it plays pretend that it's a music festival.

Dave Mann is a 5 year old in a fireman costume trying to put out an actual house fire. People die in this fire and he says "At least I tried."
"STPP is NOT a music festival"....

'Festival' - an event, usually and ordinarily staged by a local community, which centers on and celebrates some unique aspect of that community and the Festival.

'Music festival' - a festival oriented towards music that is sometimes presented with a theme such as musical genre, nationality or locality of musicians, or holiday.

"In business there is the 80/20 rule." This is not a business.

"it's his responsibility to do 100% of the work, such as PAYING THE BANDS WHO PLAY AT HIS FESTIVAL". To all the bands that wanted to come and play this show for free, sorry you must go home because you are not allowed to play unless you get paid, no matter how much you'd like to play for free.
I had a conversation recently about how DC was in a good place for culture because alot of the musicians here are not immediately concerned with money and therefore don't have to answer to any mainstream influence. This has led to an incredible variety and some of the funnest stuff I've heard.

Dave has been really successful at promoting music in DC by getting people organized. It is ALOT of work to coordinate new bands, to perform and to book bands. And ya need ideas. Dave has enough for the whole city and has brought together countless musicians that would NOT have otherwise contributed their talents to the music movement.

I don't know of anyone else in the DC indie scene working at the same scale as Dave and I'm glad that this article brings attention to what he is accomplishing.

I know of a few musicians/artists with sweet ideas of their own. I hope that they are encouraged!


I have to admit that I'm really surprised to see a five page spread on this guy. I harbor no personal resentments against him but I have to agree with the sentiment that he is way out of his depth. I respect the fact that he wants to do something good for the scene but no matter how you try to slice it he simply doesn't have the discipline or professionalism to pull it off. And luck can only get you so far.

I've attended and performed at several of Dave's events and ALL of them have been complete disasters. I was at the aforementioned triple billed event and while I will concede that the owner probably had a lot to do with the problem the real issue here is that Dave didn't "Mann" up and come help solve the problem. So what if he was on a date? He's still responsible for the evening and he dropped the ball.

And let's be clear, it's not as if this was a one time only thing. It happens almost EVERY time. When you book a show, you see it through. You make sure that the venue can accommodate the show and that everyone (you, the bands, the venue, etc) are all on the same page. Dave doesn't do that, he half ass swindles the "venue" into allowing him to put on a show and then he walks away, never to be bothered with it again. Whatever happens after that is not his problem and he leaves the bands left holding the bag. I've played my fair share of shows so I'm realistic about this stuff. I don't expect things to be 100% perfect but I do expect there to be some effort made on the part of the promoter to make sure that the show goes off without a hitch. Instead what I'm seeing here is an extremely negative TREND.

Case in point, a few months ago I was to play one of his shows only to find out on the day of the performance that there was no PA or sound man. We were also promised food but there was no cook! The show was booked at a restaurant venue that had no food or a PA system. We tried to order beer but all they had were frozen PBRs! Now, I realize that Dave didn't have control over that but my point is he doesn't think things through and he doesn't double check whether or not these places are actually viable venues. We tried to contact him about the mess and he didn't respond to our calls. Guess he was on another date.

A friend of mine emailed me a few weeks previous to that telling me a similar horror story. I hear them all the time and that's my main problem with the guy. He's building a reputation as an unprofessional hack and I don't think he even sees it. Or maybe he does and just doesn't care.

I hate to be negative but my advice to any band in DC (or anywhere for that matter) is to distant yourself from this guy at all cost. Sure he can convince all the Ethiopian restaurants on U street to let him throw a haphazard festival but unless you're a garage band who's never played a show in your life you have very little to gain by playing it. If Dave could actually focus and show some follow through then I'd definitely be more supportive of his efforts but as it stands now it's like watching a kid with severe ADD trying to organize a game of dodge ball.

The bottom line is this: if you're going to call yourself a booker/promoter then do the job. You've got to actually care about the bands and not just about feeding your ego. It's much better to put together one solid show where the audience, the band, the club are all happy than to put on countless shows where the bands are promised things that don't happen, there's no sound system and the club acts like they had no idea that there was even a performance that night to begin with. How is that helping the scene? If anything he's going to burn bridges for other people who may have been able to do some of these things successfully. Simply put, I refuse to have anything to do with this guy and it's a shame that more and more people are feeling this way too.
I regret that you have had some bad shows with Dave. I don't remember problems with sound persons and cooks, but I didn't play at every show by far. What I remember is bands forming out of nothing and cool sounds gelling at rehearsals and fun shows.

I'm not sure the politics involved in booking, but I'm familiar with the work behind the scenes. It is difficult. I wish that whoever decides what music can be performed at venues would be totally democratic about it. I'm sure a bunch of people that should be heard aren't.

I disagree with your observation about Dave having an ego problem. I think he likes music.

I'm not sure Dave's ultimate goal with his bands, but his projects are linked by an emphasis on multi-instrumental and large-scale. Some of his bands, like Mittenfields, have been around for a long time while others like Spelling for Bees seem to shift into other things. With the more complex band concepts, everyone involved needs to be very committed and so it takes forever for the project to solidify. I consider Mittenfields to be a really cool success and Spelling for Bees to have amazing potential if all of us have a few months to write together. The preview of what Spelling for Bees can ..um.. be was shown most evidently to me by my participation in the song 'Under the Sun', where I got to see how many instrumentalists could find common ground.

Writing 'Under the Sun' was one of the first times I saw it could be potentially possible to coordinate alot of people to write and perform together. In a very short time, a guitar and violin jam session became a chamber group/rock performance even though we were from all different musical backgrounds. Nobody seemed out of their element and I believe everyone blended well at the performance (on youtube). Assuming that it isn't a sound check nightmare, it seems logical and easy to add all of the members of Spelling for Bees in a similar effort.

I agree that Dave skips around, at least when writing music, but that is not an issue when you have a team of people working on songs. My issue is coming up with the song in the first place. I guess everyone has their strengths. There should be booking and managing teams as well. How can he do it alone? I never asked that. Yuck. I would never want to book shows or get fliers and stuff. Anyways...




Dave Mann is a Buddha. Do you understand your most recent post doesn't contain enough information to make sense? It starts to counter what I wrote but then stops without doing so. Are you being funny, because I just said that Dave Mann doesn't do a complete job and then you try to defend him, but then quit like Sarah Palin halfway through.
Indeed, booking shows is hard work. That's my entire point. I don't think he puts forth the effort that is needed to pull off his schemes and by skipping around like he does he puts other people in awkward situations and burns lots of bridges along the way. Keep in mind that PLAYING shows is hard work too and it's more than disheartening to be told that everything is a go, load up your car, drive to a venue just to be told that the show's been canceled or that the venue wasn't even expecting you. That's happened to both me and some of my friends almost every time Dave or STPP "booking" is involved. It's disrespectful to say the least and I just think he needs to be called out on it.

I've booked shows before and I've even put together festivals. I know how hard it is but in all of my time doing it I always knew what my limits where and didn't take this laissez-faire about it. I knew that people were depending on me to make sure that things happened and I felt some iota of responsibility for the event. Dave's attitude is one that I can't jive with. I mean, in the article he's all like "This is easy! I should do this!" Of COURSE it's easy if you half ass it and don't worry about the consequences. He said himself that he was just happy nothing burned to the ground. Seriously?

To clarify, I don't dislike the guy. I barely know him. I just know that it's in my best interest to steer clear of him because he has left me and many of my colleagues stranded in a tough spot more than once. His shot gun approach to booking shows is eventually going to blow up in his face. Now that I think about it maybe it won't because by this time next year he'll probably have moved on to some other half baked endeavor. It's ok for the guy to have big dreams but when he "fails big" like he said he wanted to do then why would anyone want to align themselves with that? That's just taking us all down with him.
The whole At Least He's Doing Something argument is such faint praise and such a low bar. No one should be patting this guy on the back for asking a venue if X, Y, and Z can play and then walking away. It's lazy and it's disrespectful to the performers and the audiences.

"Marketing is not fun, and the bands benefit hugely from all that Dave does to promote the festival."

Putting shows together is not the same as marketing. Not at all. I doubt that Mann could name all 125 bands playing the festival, much less give you a meaningful description of each group's work. That doesn't benefit bands. That doesn't benefit audiences.

This area has a really vibrant art scene. If you want to be part of festivals that actually celebrate, promote, and respect their performers and audiences, check out Sonic Circuits, Queering Sound, Avant Fairfax, Fort Reno, High Zero, etc. There's no reason to waste time with STPP.
Dave as a person is completely genuine. The fact that he's not getting paid at all and working his full-time job while trying to book this festival almost singlehandedly is pretty demonstrative of the fact that he just loves music and wants to help out bands.

I've played several shows with him and it's never been about the money-- he has gone out of his way to help me.

Now, all that being said, does he stretch himself too thin? Yes. A person shouldn't go for five days without sleeping... And I think his efforts would be that much more effective in D.C. if he scaled back and took on one project at a time, instead of juggling six at any given... Bringing in just 40-50 quality bands at five different venues would be more manageable and probably have greater success. But he's finding his niche and at least he thinks big. That's something I don't do for myself too often. Sometimes when you think more "reasonably" you cut off the idea of "what could be."
I'm not so sure he just wants to help out bands, Eileen. He does it because it gets him attention and gets him 5 page write ups in the City Paper. Like Zach said, Dave has no real emotional connection to the vast majority of bands that he booked and it's all a numbers game. "Oh wow, he booked 125 bands for one festival? He MUST be hot shit!" He does it because he wants to make a name for HIMSELF. If he really cared about the music like you say then he'd make more of an effort to put on QUALITY shows instead of what he's doing now. Yes, he is stretched too thin. Yes, he's in over his head. The "at least he's doing something" argument doesn't work for me either. I'm sure that he's a nice guy and all but he's doing the music scene more of a disservice than anything else. I'm sorry but it's the truth. Defend him all day long but it doesn't change the fact that he's lost credibility with me and a large host of other people in the scene. It'll all catch up to him sooner or later...
FlabbyGibblet, you think i'm actually gonna grant you a sincere response when you say something so reckless and mean about someone, i.e., he has a mental illness??? That's completely out-of-bounds, and ad hominem at best. You call HIM a 5-year old? So, yes I was mocking you. But sarcasm aside, despite the mistakes Dave's made, I saw tons of bands this weekend that I never would have PAID to see. Now that I've heard them, I will pay to see them. If you wanna talk "business", let's talk about loss leaders.
Oh, and the by the way, the shows I saw at the festival had excellent PA's, monitors, and sound guys. Same goes for the show I played. We were very happy, and we made a ton of new friends and fans. Thanks Dave.
I think this was a great testament to what the DIY local music scene should be. All the shows I went to and played in were running very smoothly, the sounds was great, the sound guys were great, the other bands were nice, made a ton of new contacts and new friends, and did not think once about getting paid. Like Dave said, this is not a business...I come from an area with an amazing DIY local music scene, and now they are really psyched to travel down to DC and be a part of what seems to be a great DIY scene popping up here in DC. Honestly, I had not seen this kind of DIY spirit since I moved here 6 years ago, and it was refreshing to get back into playing for the fun of playing, spreading the word of local music, and celebrating the awesome U Street community. I met Dave this weekend and sat and talked with him for like 30 minutes before I realized he was the organizer of the event...seems like a completely genuine guy with his head in the right place for fostering this kind of gathering. I hope he continues to do what he is doing and I look forward to helping him with the next fest. MUSIC FOR MUSIC'S SAKE...that's never a bad thing.
I'm not going to deny that on occasion Dave can pull his act together long enough to accomplish something but consistency is a major factor for me. If a guy has a reputation for dropping the ball 75% of the time and only hitting the mark 25% I'm not going to have much faith in his ability to put together a good show and will most likely try my luck somewhere else.
I just played at this festival with my band on Saturday. Dave was awesome, and we had an amazing time. That's all this is really about, playing music and having fun. We came all the way from New York to play this festival, and we would do it again in a heartbeat. And to everyone saying Dave is in over his head and he's unprofessional and all this, at least he's DOING something. It's a lot easier to sit behind a computer and SAY you can do a better job than it is to actually have the guts to try and accomplish it, even if you fail.
Friendly commenter people: Keep the reactions coming, but also check out my reflection on this past weekend's festival.

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/artsdesk/music/2011/10/10/sweet-tea-pumpkin-pie-festival-postscript/
@A Satisfied Customer:

"It's a lot easier to sit behind a computer and SAY you can do a better job than it is to actually have the guts to try and accomplish it, even if you fail."

Dude, I don't think most people are saying they can do better. What they're saying is that, from the vantage point of a band playing shows he is involved with booking, he is failing completely.

It's great that you came in from NY and things worked out. I'm not saying that Mann is always terrible, I'm sure a bunch of the shows this past weekend went OK. But for someone who is part of the music scene here, dealing with him has unfortunately been a gigantic pain in the ass.
Kind of interesting you use Thierry Guetta/Mr Brainwash as an analogy, considering he was just a send-up himself and didn't really DO anything. It seems very apt in that regard; Mann is a guy with, according to the article, no discernable talent or skills other than calling people in crappy bands and getting them to play for free in venues that may or may not receive them. Like Mr Brainwash, he seems to do a great job of creating a facade of accomplishment and skill, but there's really nothing under the surface. Too bad he doesn't seem as interesting.
Hello there. I have no intentions on replying to the negative comments on here. I'm not about that but the only thing that concerns me is that said negative commenters are not revealing their names/names of bands I have apparently "screwed over" so that concerns me a little bit but whatever.

To everyone else, if you found yourself in the U St. Corridor/Logan Circle neighborhood this past weekend, then you most likely bumped into crowds listening to rock music IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY!!! How cool is that?!? Sure, there were bands that played that isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea but you know what, you win some you lose some. That is the point of what has happened so far with the STPPFest in 2011. This is a music festival that features bands that you may or may not know and these bands might have a more difficult time trying to get into my favorite venues (Black Cat, DC9, Velvet Lounge) so I am happy to book them a slot at the festival. I know this was successful because I had plenty of people coming up to me because they recognized me from the cover of the WCP (and no, I didn't bribe Jonathan Fischer to write this piece about me...in fact, I was a little upset, at first, that this piece wasn't exclusively about the festival but in the end...I'm okay with this because it is a fair and balanced piece) and told me to "DO THIS AGAIN"...and you know what, that is the plan.

I'd like to believe that most people will agree that the festival has improved since June (and yeah, please keep in mind that the inaugural festival had very little time for planning) assuming that you attended both festivals. This time around I had a committee who not only kicked ass but made sure that all the weight wasn't on my shoulders alone. Charlie, Megan, Kim, Kherry, Ben, Mike, Dan, Justin, Jill, Aideen (and a few others) really took this on in full force as though we all were getting paid to make this happen. That's right, no one got paid this time around and no one got paid back in June either. So yeah, I apologize to anyone that I might have "screwed over" in the past but until I am doing this F/T and not having to spend so much time outside of my regular scheduled 40 hour work week, things will, inevitably, fall through the cracks. But with that said, this festival was improved upon and it will continue to be improved upon in the years to come. And I would like to think that same logic will be applied to the shows I book that have nothing to do with this festival. When you are working with non-traditional venues, it's a completely different ball game. So to all the haters out there, you clearly do not know what is happening behind the scenes because quite frankly, I do not have the time to explain. And on that note, if I have "screwed you over", please do not work with me again. That doesn't make any sense.

Anyways, as weird as being on the cover of the WCP was/is, I believe it brought out a lot of people to the fest and a lot of these bands made new fans because of that. So hats off to Jonathan Fischer for the piece.

Best,

Dave Mann
please send comments or complaints to dcbooking@gmail(dot)com if you aren't going to reveal your name/band name because really, what does that accomplish?!?
"When someone has a mental illness, and in some cases a quite severe mental illness, you don't write an interview or article about them, you have them seek help?"

Are you serious? What kind of ignorant comment is that? Guess who had a mental illness: Ludwig van Beethoven, Vincent Van Gogh, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath... the list goes on. If you have a legitimate criticism of something a person has done, please consider refraining from ignorant insults about his/her alleged mental health status.

-KW
The fest was a lot of fun. Some of the resturaunt venues seemed an unlikely choice for a show, but all in all is was fun. The U street block was great, awesome food and really cool people.
STPP Fall Fest was definitely a success in our eyes. Dave has been nothing but generous to our band ever since we first got in contact with him about booking a show in D.C. It was recommended that we get in contact with him and although he wasn't able to find us a venue in time for our Summer tour due to scheduling conflicts between our band and the venues, he suggested we apply for the festival.

We're a young band just getting in to the DIY music scene. We drove an hour up to the city for the festival and while we were able to bring a few fans from the area, the venue was already packed with eager listeners. Charlie, who ran sound at Desperados, got our sound just perfect which is difficult to do in such little time between bands, and the other bands on the lineup were awesome dudes.

From the beginning of the festival planning process, Dave let it be known that we would not be compensated for playing and that this was the first time the fall edition of the festival had been attempted. Knowing this, we were still pretty amazed at how organized the event was. We showed up, waiting until the band before us finished, set up, played and tore down. Simple. All we had to worry about was rockin' out.

It's been most difficult for us a band just starting out to get our foot in the door here in the DC area. Thanks to Dave and his Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie music festival and blog, we've been asked back to play in the city and we're finally getting our fairly local band heard.

Keep it up Dave! The festivals can only get better from here on out and Dear Creek loves what you're doing for the DC music scene!
Don't worry, Dave. I don't plan on ever working with you again if I can help it. And by the way, would revealing who I am make any difference to you? Would you honestly change anything about how you conduct "business" or somehow try to make it right with me? I think not, and even if you did I'm still not interested. I just find it very telling that you don't seem to be the least bit sorry that you've stepped on some toes and left people holding the bag. You waste no time patting yourself on the back though. Whatever, man. I've said what I had to say. To go on any more would just be redundant.

My only hope is that some of the criticisms people leveraged at you sink in and you actually LEARN something from this. It's doubtful but weirder things have happened. Anyways, congrats on your story and good luck to you in your future endeavors. I'll just plan to stay FAR away from it.
The Lost Civilizations experimental music project, joined by legendary saxophonist Aaron Martin, had a wonderful experience performing at STPP. This was our third appearance in an STPP event (the first two were at the earlier STPP). A recording of our performance is posted at http://soundcloud.com/martin-sebastian-zook/stpp. We hope you enjoy this clip as much as we enjoyed making it!

Überkudos to Dave Mann for pulling it together a second time around -- we're looking forward to the next one!
Hey,

It was crazy, it was large, it was free, but I'll be damned if it wasn't fun. Good on Dave Mann for coordinating this with Megan Petty at Fuzzy Logic. All I can say is, do it again.
We had an awesome time at the Fest, thanks Dave! :)

- EG
...Dave.

first off, thanks SO MUCH for having the vision & the sheer will to make something this size happen in the middle of a holiday weekend in DC. my music group, the late virginia summers (TLVS), were honored to be a part of the festival in general, & the fuzzy logic showcase in particular (we adore megan!!!).

as for the treatment of bands, i LOVED the grub that was set up via pica taco. it was so wise to have a place in the neighborhood providing food, rather than trying to feed bands as a set part of the festival...plus, the food was right good! i thought it was cool that there was a P/A set up & ready to go. our sound guy (dan from magnolia) was super accommodating. i would recommend that future P/A's include monitors. i know that we had problems hearing any & everything that was run through the system & a few other groups that we are friends with spoke of the same issue.

as for the venue that we played at, it was acceptable, but i couldn't help but feel that they (the islander) were not necessarily set up or interested in hosting a rock show. dinnerware, set tables, & waitresses meandering through the space made it seem that we (the festival) were in the way.

we were jazzed to play with so many friends (i have to think that was due to megan's clever booking) that we have shared stages with before! it was very cool to NOT limit this festival to DC only, as it seems that virginia is bubbling up with some really interesting acts!

all in all, a good time...one TLVS would be 110% down with doing again. i will definitely be reaching out to you to work out DC dates in the future.

nathan . TLVS
If we want to build the DC music community, and really make it something awesome, we need to think about creative places we can play, no matter how temporary they are (i.e. Red Door, Paper Sun, Million Man Tire). I know as hell I dOn't want to play a "venue" like Dukem where there's no one involved in the festival present, where there's parents with infants eating dinner, people who don't want to hear my songs about mortality and what-have-you. I know that it's going to kill my mojo hard core when I'm relocated from one so-so venue to a next, finally ready to play, and the "sound person" (or person who I thought was in charge of sound) starts going into a spiel about all the sponsors for the event, no matter how awesome they are, like Basecamp. It just didn't feel right. I'm not a quantity over quality gal. But, hey, music scene culture comes and goes, and Im glad I got to witness an awesome portion of it enough that it's filled me up to tide me over through things that I feel like are a little half-assed, or over-looked.

As a performer and a booker and a music lover, I was disappointed with STPP, but hey, it happens. At least some people enjoyed themselves. If that's what they want DC music to be, so be it. Everyone can have their version.
Honestly. This festival was DIY as fuck, and I'm not upset by that. My band just started out and I was just happy to be playing for people; they even generally enjoyed my songs. Some didn't even really speak english, but they liked our sound. My group got invited to play elsewhere as a result and that's pretty damn satisfying. It'd be nice to get paid for things, it'd be nice to have swag venues, it'd be nice to have a big crowd. But if that's what you're doing this stuff for, find a new occupation or hobby, because that's not what we get for being musicians. Getting relocated didn't bother me, 'cause what did I have to lose? "Oh no, now that my venue's changed last minute, I can't remember how to be an artist anymore!" There is no corner office in this "business," and that's just the deal. Punk Rock, Mr. Mann, punk rock.
I play in Midway Fair; we're from Baltimore. We played at Caribou over the weekend for the festival, and it was our second time working with something connected to Dave Mann. The first was when we played as part of The Galt Line's Monday residency at Bella Cafe, and that show went swimmingly - it was well attended, there were no sound issues and a soundman was present, and the four bands on the bill all respected each other. We were invited to play by another band, though, not by Dave. Since I'm going to respond to some of the criticisms here, it's worth remembering that one reason that show went so well is that the artists worked together to play with people they liked.

Here's something to think about. The indie rock music festivals in the mid-Atlantic region are currently BiMA.fest (Baltimore Independent Music Festival) and ... STPP Fest. There is an annual big blues festival (Hot August Blues), several world music and folk music festivals (e.g. the Celtic festival in Montgomery County and the Common Ground Festival), and a few other things. Yes, it would have been nice to have more variety, but if you think the festival could be improved with the addition of a particular band, then you could work with that band convince them to play at the festival.

Here are the things I thought went well with *our experience* at the festival: We had a soundman in a coffeeshop. Every chair in the room was filled during our set. I spent 20 minutes on the booking process. I got some free food. I sold a couple CDs and had some people download our music online.

My expectation for any of our shows in Baltimore is pretty much that, except replace "20 minutes" with "4 hours."

Here are some places where the festival needs to be improved:
-I think the whole thing needs to be scaled back some and allowed to grow organically, or that each venue needs to be handled by one person. Some of the venues were not set up to have music, and the bands suffer for that. Some went over better than you'd expect, like Caribou. Having 80 bands at 4 venues is still a huge festival. Bima Fest was something like 50 bands and has shown measurably more success.

-The festival has a branding problem. STPP Fest is not a sustainable name because it is also Dave's blog. Eventually the grassroots local press might get skittish about covering the festival because it drives people to a competing blog. I know blogs aren't typically competitive like that, but it could be something in the back of peoples' minds. The name can also make the Festival seem small (like it's limited to artists covered in STPP or something), and it says nothing about the festival's location or intentions. Branding is important.

-It needs to be clearer that this is not a one-man operation. Dave works full-time, so anyone complaining that he's not doing the work necessary must have absolutely no concept of how much work must have gone into this. The fact is he *can't* do the work necessary by himself in this situation. The committee was a good idea. It will help the festival. I think the committee will still need to solicit some outside help.

I have one final criticism that I won't air in public because it'll make me look snotty, but anyone wanting to know more of my thoughts can e-mail me, or read the blog post I wrote about BiMA.fest, another similar event here in Baltimore, on Driftwoodmagazine.com.

-Jon
Our band thoroughly enjoyed ourselves this weekend. What could have been a shitshow was instead a well run day of music. Kudos to everyone for making this happen. After being understandably nervous about the possibilities at a DIY fest, everything worked out well. Recommendations: No need to have 125 bands over 3 days. Start out smaller- just do Friday and Saturday. Your goal should be to have zero bands get screwed. Also, the name is just awful. Gotta change it from Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie to just about anything else. Hope to see you next time!
Dave: Completely ignore the idiot masses with negative things to say. These are the people that have driven a wedge between bands, clubs, promoters, etc.. and turned the DC Music scene into the festering wound it is today. It also means that you are doing something right.. These are the people that think the bands they see at the "Big 4" fell out of sky into fame.. Being in a band that will never sellout big clubs, sign a record/distribution deal, tour the US/World, you have given me and the boys the chance to "live the dream", even if on a limited basis. We are not in it for the money, we are in it for the thrill of playing to a live audience. Without you, we wouldn't outlet to play out DC at all as certain other promoters won't even return emails. It is refreshing to know that there are "smaller", independent clubs and promoters that give smaller/unknown bands the ability to cut their teeth and express themselves musically.. Having played in both festivals, I think the Fall fest was a stellar success and just hope that it keeps going so we can stay a part of it.

Thanks for all the hardwork trying to give the DC music scene back to it's local bands!!

sean
3footleash
We can only speak for ourselves and the atmosphere at Dynasty on Saturday night, but we had a blast and are happy we got to play to an engaged and energetic crowd.

Thanks Dave and STPP!

- Drop Electric
www.dropelectric.com
STPP Fest was a lot of fun and we got to play with some amazing artists! The audience was incredible and the festival was full of good vibes all around!

xoxo,
Stella and the Fire
*^_^*
I've played the festival twice now and very much enjoyed the experience on both occasions. I don't know Dave that well, but he seems like an honest person, and I respect what he is trying to do. I've played several festivals over they years (from CMJ to some shitfest Motor City thing in Detroit), and they all have problems. And if you’ve played a lot of those as a no-name band, then you know that you not only pay to apply, but you eat the travel costs with no guarantee of a crowd.

There was no deception involved in the booking of STPP, and it's ridiculous to personally attack the people involved in putting it on. If you had a shitty time, then don't play the next round. But to complain about payment when it was never offered or about crowd size when you don’t have a DC following, are one of 125 bands and can check online and see you are playing at an Ethiopian restaurant is absurd and sounds like the kind of bitching that comes from bands who delusional about their standing in the world and have never toured around the country.

If you have enough clout to demand guarantees and shit, then you are likely booked by a larger booking agency and wouldn't be playing this show anyway. And if you've never played an empty room with or one with an inadequate PA, then you likely haven't worked for years playing shows out of town because that shit happens all the time.

We live in New York, took the bus down, played to a few people, and I hope to do it again for the next one. If you had a bad time, commiserate with your bandmates while you feast on shrimp cocktails and unlimited champagne at your next show at the Enormodome, but don’t publicly shit on a group of seemingly nice hard working people who are trying to build something interesting in a town that doesn’t have the greatest of music scenes.

(And yes STPP paid me to write this. I’m also carrying Dave Mann’s love child.)

Michael Henry
No-name bands I’m in: kntrlr and The Press

Misc notes:
flibbertygibbett - a fireman analogy? Really? It's a bunch of bands playing songs in small venues - how does that warrant a comparison involving dead bodies?

And to the Black Keys/Courtesy Tier argument - I know the Courtesy Tier guys, and yes a general comparison to the Black Keys makes sense as a short-hand description. But even if they didn't what the fuck does that have to do with the logistical efficiency of a DIY musicfest or the character of the people involved in planning it? That's some petty shit.

There are no comments from the idiots masses on this board, Sean. Everyone who has had some negative to say are all people who have had worked with Dave in some capacity or another and felt that the experience was more than lacking. Also, it's not other promoters or bookers who are airing these grievances, it's mostly musicians who are used to getting screwed all the time and are getting tired of it.

It seems to me that all the people singing Dave's praises are all young, inexperienced and over enthusiastic about just having a chance to play in the first place. Their bar's already set pretty low and they don't have any real expectations or real world knowledge about what a promoter's actually supposed to do. The people making the complaints seem to be more seasoned and experienced musicians who know that it takes a lot of time and effort to perform and they want to feel like they're going to be taken care of (meaning they'll get all the things that they've been promised and the venue will be appropriate for their style of music). There's already so much to think about so we don't want to worry about whether or not we're going to get to a gig just to find out if it's been double booked or there's no sound man or PA, as promised.

I didn't attend the festival so I can't comment directly about that but I do have to say that I've been burnt by Dave myself. Finding out hours before a gig from second and third hand sources that the club was closed down or had sold their PA the day before can be quite jarring. I was put in the position where I had to cancel one performance because so much was going wrong. That was kind of heart breaking because I had spent all week practicing and promoting the performance. It was all caused by lack of oversight and poor communication. It just makes me wonder who's really at the wheel here. It doesn't seem to be Dave.

I admire that he's trying to do something but simply trying isn't always enough. People keep saying to give him slack because he works a full time job and does this booking thing in his spare time. Sorry but that's no excuse. He shouldn't be taking on projects of this scale if he doesn't have the organization and time to do it. Bands suffer from his hands off approach. I can take a mild disappointment from time to time but I've had many friends with similar experiences and some of them were driving from hours away just to be turned around and told there's no show. That's something I can't respect.
While we're talking about bookers that may or may not help the DC scene, I'd like to hear people's thoughts on Steve Lambert. I think this is relevant when we're trying to figure out who we want to book our shows.

Steve Lambert is the worst person I've ever met in my life. That's not hyperbole. I rarely hate people, but I hate Steve Lambert. He treats his bands like TOTAL shit, when he doesn't need to. He's worried about drink sales, which is fine, but if you don't bring numbers, he doesn't simply notify you that you need to market better, etc., but launches into tirades. It doesn't matter if you've brought him good numbers before; he only has a one-show memory.

I'd much rather be without a soundman than to deal with Lambert. (and in fact, i've been without a soundman several times in Lambert's rooms). He's the antithesis of art cultivation. It would be a service to the community if we could figure out a way to cut him out of the process. As it now stands, he books the Red Palace, Rock and Roll Hotel, DC9, etc., so it's very difficult to avoid him. Can't we pressure these venues to dump him, use a better human? Surely there are skilled people that aren't evil.

I know this is an old subject (Lambert even made his own bumper sticker -- "Fuck Steve Lambert"), but i haven't seen much in writing about it; just word of mouth among pissed-off musicians.


I've had some bad experiences with Steve (who hasn't?) but I just choose to avoid his clubs all together. I don't know that he can be cut out of the process because I think he may be part owner or something. If there was a petition though, I'd definitely sign it.
@Sean (or someone responding to @Sean, I'm not certain) wrote: "It seems to me that all the people singing Dave's praises are all young, inexperienced and over enthusiastic about just having a chance to play in the first place."

I think that's reason enough for Dave to do what he's doing; so bands who otherwise can't get a break get a place to play (and a chance at an audeince thanks to Dave's Hoopla Machine, which seems to work reasonably well). Fischer seemed to miss my point when he edited my quote in the piece, but I was giving Dave shit in May because I figured he ran the risk of alienating a lot of muscicians by arbitrarily making the festival free without consulting the bands. At the time, I was really thinking of the out-of-town bands, thinking locals would show up just to be supportive, but, as we've seen in this thread, out-of-towners who took the opportunity appreciated the opportunity, so why deny them just so Dave can't continue to be Dave?

I agree that bands who can get gigs in trad. venues don't really need to work with Dave (unless you really want to help him develop his credibility, and I can see why most bands wouldn't want to work on that project). I also agree that working with Dave can be like watching a slow-motion trainwreck (I say that as someone who likes him and thinks he has good intentions), but that doesn't mean he's not serving a certain constituency, and that those constituents seem to be happy to have the service, esp. since NO ONE ELSE IS PROVIDING IT. -E
I'm almost sure you guys are the same person but since neither one of you are giving out your real names and/or band names (the bands I have apparently "screwed") please allow me to address a couple of things.

I don't mind the 'hating'. Whatever...that's not a big deal. But giving out inaccurate information kind of gets under my skin.

#1 There was a show scheduled at 1920 (Asefu's) a couple months back that was (according to Asefu) the ONLY show scheduled for that night and that show was booked as part of a "First Friday" event that was put on by me.

I get a phone call from Beau (who booked the other event, making it a double booked event..and he commented above) saying, "Hey, what gives..there are multiple shows going on and I have some metal bands playing...I think the music is going to bleed into each others sets..yada yada yada". Yes, I was on a date with my wife (married people still go on dates) and the last thing I want to do is deal with something like this when I had somebody else taking care of that night for me. So if there is anyone to blame it would be Asefu for double booking or triple booking the venue.

#2 RE: Ghion selling/getting rid of all their PA gear a day/the day of a show.

Yeah, that sucks man. But how was I supposed to know that that was going to happen? And, how do I control what a venue does with their own equipment? And if you can recall, I tried my hardest to get that moved to 1920 even in the midst of trying to convince me that you could just use your guitar amps for a PA which I didn't think was ideal AND Asefu agreed to host the show. Also, you were really concerned (assuming that who I am speaking of is the one who posted the above comments...but really, this is the only sitation I can think of that resembles your scenario) about the show going too late because all of your fans were going to be at another show later that night and you didn't want to play for an empty room...who doesn't, I get that. But still, you were making this situation a lot more difficult than it had to be.

Before we move on...lets address something that isn't an issue at The Black Cat/Velvet Lounge/DC9, etc...it's the issue of those venues being "legitimate venues" vs the venues I am working with. I am pretty upfront with this when bands approach me about booking shows at these venues...(because who isn't going to automatically see red flags when they find out that they are playing at an ethiopian restuarnt. I tell them that I have issues with these venues (primarily Bella, 1920 and Dahlak) because they do not want to do anything more than just open their doors and host a show. They have absolutely no desire to spend a dime on advertising in the WCP, WAPO, etc. I can guarantee you that Steve Lambert does not have this problem. The venues he deals with are legit and they do everything in their power to make sure that bands want to return back to that particular venue and you do that by properly promoting things, etc. by placing advertisements in the paper, having a website, etc. The venues I deal with don't care about any of that, for the most part. Or at least Bella and Dahlak never cared about that. It was like pulling teeth over at those venues to get them to do some of the things that they did do and that was on such a much smaller scale compared to what Steve Lambert is able to do with his venues.

I apologize for the tangent but when people inaccurately describe situations it's not cool. And the fact that you won't say what band you are in is pretty ridiculous. At this point, I have no intentions of trying to right any wrongs with what happened to you because you are acting like a complete asshole about all of this. IF this was such a big concern of yours then you would have sent me an email or called me on the phone to address your problem(s) with me but instead you wait for an article like this to show up so you can tell the world what a terrible person I am and how I should be avoided at all costs. C'mon.

#3 There was a show that never happened and as a result of that a band out of Norfolk, VA called Pan Galactic Strawboss got royally screwed. There was another band on that bill too called Grammar (DC band) and I want to say there was one more band on that bill too but I can't remember who it was. Anyways, they all showed up to the venue and no one at the venue (Mike the owner or his few employees) knew anything about anything. So the bands packed up and headed home. So yeah, that sucks!!! I was on vacation that week and that was a show that was supposed to happen but didn't due to Mike (owner of Bella) not really caring about getting the band upstairs to set up or whatever. Ideally, there would be sound men at each of these shows but I don't have a crew behind me (not yet) so everything happening at Bella was pretty much DYI..including the sound board. It's not rocket science but it's also not ideal for a band to work the board themselves...being in a couple bands myself, I wouldn't be very happy about that either...to show up at a venue and not having someone there to operate things. Mike could have turned on the sound system and messed with the knobs until the band was satisfied with the levels but he never cared to learn how to operate his own equipment so I have tried to get volunteers in to work the board at various shows.

Just so we are clear from this point on...I'm not getting paid to do this. I'm more than happy to provide venues for bands who are upset with not being able to find venues who will book them or finding a venue that is available for the night but I don't ***promise*** things to bands. Because when dealing with places like Bella and Dahlak, promises are not always available (ie: if I am not at the venue, then whatever agreement was made between Mike and I may not happen and then yeah, that just comes full circle (obviously).

Anyways, if you are going to say that I am screwing over tons of bands, I'd like to know which bands I am screwing over. I have mentioned a few that I know for a fact emailed me the day after the show and told me what was on their mind. These were legitimate complaints. But for you to say all this stuff and just leave it at "...Dave has screwed over a lot of my friends" - well, I don't buy that dude.

Also, you made a comment about bands being "young" vs "seasoned"...really? I hardly doubt that your band is a seasoned, national act that has played hundreds of shows around the country/overseas. And if you have, I'd love to know what band you are in...not to apologize to you because you can't even pony up and say who you are or what band you are in..but just like you, I'd like to not deal with you as well. It goes both ways dude.

Thanks,

Dave
Just wanted to give a shout out to John Patton in particular for the legitimately constructive criticism.
Speaking from a fan's perspective here - I have not worked directly with Dave but I thoroughly enjoyed the STPP fest and many of the bands that played there.

Prior to the festival, I checked out the STPP website. I'll be honest in saying I hadn't heard of any of these bands before. Schedules of all the venues, along with band profiles and sample songs, were posted. While I had a rough idea of where I'd be going throughout the day, I chose to hop around anyway, using the provided maps. I sampled most of the venues and while I didn't like every band, I liked more than I didn't, and that's a better ratio overall than some shows for which I've paid to attend.

Bought some merch, got on some mailing lists. Ate some Ethiopian food. Drank some beers. Chatted with the volunteers and some of the bands.

All in all, a fun, relatively low-key affair - but I came out of it with a new respect for some of the local bands. In some ways I think it's changed my focus somewhat. While I feel lucky to live in a big metro area which draws national acts, and I definitely see my share of those acts (in fact, one played Black Cat that night, Tune-yards, and many I know bookended that show with STPP shows) it's really good to discover acts right under my nose that really deserve some attention. Thanks Dave and thanks to the volunteers. You made it happen.
@ Rick

Thanks, that means a lot!
If you don't promise anything to the bands, don't have good relationships with the shitty venues that you're booking (which you're choosing to work with by the way) AND aren't ever available to take care of the problems when they arise then what exactly is it that you do? I'm not asking this to be an ass but I honestly want to know. Can you see that maybe there's a problem in the way that you're doing things if you've managed to upset so many people in the process? I'm glad that some things have worked out for you but will you do anything differently now that you're aware of people's complaints?
To the person that commented above.

You are the ONLY person complaining dude. You have posted the same complaints over and over and over and over and over and over.

<<<Can you see that maybe there's a problem in the way that you're doing things if you've managed to upset so many people in the process?>>>

As far as I can tell, I have managed to upset you. Not many people, but you. And you won't even bother to tell me (or anyone) who you are.

Keep hiding behind your computer screen, it's endearing.

Dave
I had the chance to work with Dave last year on my bands tour down to SXSW. Dave was amazing to work with and share the stage with. First he saved our asses and got us a sweet last minute gig in DC. He treated us absolutely amazing, helped us park unload our gear, made sure that we got everything we needed and at the end of the night he gave us all of the money his band made at the door for the rest of our trip.

I truly believe that anyone who has been in this business for a minute and has dealt with the world of booking can respect what Dave is doing and understand there are always problems and angry musicians.
The festival was great. This is the kind of thing DC needs. Rock on Dave!
As one of the 137,000 bands to play the very first STTP Fest, I can attest that it was in fact a fairly epic failure. We play in a local band that actually plays real venues, and we were told by Dave that we would be "headlining." Ha. I was suspicious, but what the fuck, it's always fun to play a show. There was no sound guy, no crowd, and they literally shut down the 'club' before we played. Won't make that mistake again.
Sooooo, I play in the local band Modern Man. It wasn't perfect, but we had a good time. Organization was not a strong suit, but the energy was there.
@ BlandBand

I'm assuming you played at 1920 back in June for the inaugural fest. I can't think of any other places that shut down before they were supposed to. I remember Modern Man being there the night it shut down on them. Which band are you in?

<<<We play in a local band that actually plays real venues, and we were told by Dave that we would be "headlining." >>>

I don't think that is fair seeing that most of these bands (if not, all) that have played the festival have played/do play in 'real' venues. Even if I tried, it sounds like I couldn't convince you that these places are 'real' venues. They are just as real as shows that happen at Crabs Claw, Red Door, Paper Sun, Million Man Tire...I hope you would consider those 'real' venues. In fact, they are venues. They are just as much as a venue as The Black Cat/DC9/Velvet Lounge/930 Club is.

=====================================
I would challenge those who were at both festivals to say that there was not a difference whatsoever in terms of the festival being improved upon. I learned from my mistakes from the first one in June by supplying sound techs (w/ sound systems) at each venue (sans Dukem b/c the system there is pretty much 'plug and play'..but still, there should have been someone there).

But yeah, the one in June definitely had its share of problems, definitely moreso than the one that just happened but a lot of those problems were resolved this past weekend. Not all of them, but a good majority of them were. And guess what, the problems that weren't resolved will hopefully not be problems at the next festival.

Thanks,

Dave
@ BlandBand

Also, ya know, I apologize for your situation that night (re: the club shutting down on you) but it would have been nice had you emailed me about your frustations.

Dave Mann, you are NOT supposed to book shows and then not go to the shows because your on vacation or on a date with your wife. That shows you're over your head. If you don't get that I cannot help you. No one can help you. A show booker attends the show he or she books. You can't cross the line of booking shows and not showing up.
@ flibbertygibbet

Thanks for making me laugh. I have a question for you. Do you think that Steve Lambert attends three shows a night...and do you think Steve dos that every night of the week?
Well, the difference between Dave Mann and Steve Lambert is that Steve actually gets paid to book for established rock clubs whereas Dave books shows in his free time at mostly hole in the wall restaurants that by his own admission are hard to work with (not to mention ill equipped to handle shows in the first place). Why he chooses these venues is anybody's guess.

I would say that due to the sheer VOLUME of shows Dave books it'd be a tad unrealistic for him to be at every one but he does need to at least be fully responsible for them. His go to excuses are 1. he doesn't do it for money so no one should have any expectations of him 2. it's always the venue's fault if something goes wrong and 3. he's not available to fix any problems that arise because he's so busy doing other things (like going on dates and vacations).

The one key element in this whole thing that I don't think Dave gets is that even if he has the best intentions in the world, when these venues drop the ball it reflects poorly on him too because it happens under his watch. He chose the venues. He negotiates with them. He puts bands there. His name is associated with the whole thing. For him to simply say that he has no control over any of this is misleading. If the venues are making things hard on him why does he think that they'd be any better with the bands? That's what I don't get.

I admit that I may have allowed my inner troll to get the better of me so in the spirit of a renewed good will I'm going to offer Dave my sincerest advice. Slow down. Book fewer but higher quality shows at more reliable venues. Get over this more is better thing. If you take your time to do fewer things well than a whole bunch of things half assed then you'll be more likely to succeed. For all of your successes you've had as many failures and unfortunately you're building a less than desirable reputation as well as leaving a whole bunch of pissed off people in your wake. Simply put, do it right or don't do it all. That's it. I'm bowing out. Can we go back to bashing Lambert now?
@Not a Fan of the Mann

Let me tell you why I can't book at more reliable venues, because all of the more reliable venues already have booking people. This is why I am booking at these Ethiopian/Eiterrean places because all they want is business. Thankfully, after working with Dahlak and Bella I have finally found the right place in that enviornment, that place being, Dynasty. I don't forsee having problems there. Fishe (the owner) is a really kind person who isn't soley relying on the music side of things to bring 100% of his revenue. That was the biggest problem at Bella. Mike (Bella's owner) had two levels and he could have easily had a successful restaurant downstairs but he just let it be empty daily.

And yes, slowing down is great advice! I am pretty much scaling back to two venues right now (Desperados and Dynasty) so that's a good start. And it looks like most of my concentration will be booking over at Dynasty since Ray (the owner) really wants to make this happen.

Anyways, man, you and everyone else in this comment thread who have given me advice or "hated" on me..or whatever...I do take all of this into consideration and I am not an asshole about all of this, just for the record. As far as the "..less than desirable reputation" I am building for myself, well, it would be great if I knew who you were talking about b/c I don't see that. I get an insane amount of emails from bands (local and non-local) who want to book shows through me...and a lot of this is through referrals. Do things fall through the cracks? Absolutely. Is that ideal? Absolutely not. I'd rather that not happen but this is all a learning process.

Thanks,

Dave
I can't speak about the festival crowd because I wasn't there but I do hear a lot of rumblings especially regarding all the Ethiopian shows. At the 4 or 5 I went to there was this overall feeling that no one was in charge and all the bands were venting about you in particular. They felt left to their own devices in a place that didn't seem to care if they were there or not. That's just not a good feeling. It seems a lot of musicians I know (myself included) have had a not so positive experience with those places so that's why I was emphasizing that the venues you choose can reflect poorly on you. Getting into one or two solid venues sounds like a better move so let's see how that works. I'd advise having as hands on approach as possible though so things don't fall the cracks again. Take that for whatever it's worth.
i'm in a baltimore band and we played STPP for the first time last week. first off, my hat is off to dave for his efforts in this. he sent out countless (okay like 7) e-mails explaining all the details of the festival (how to get the free tacos, about not getting paid, venue details, etc) so there would be no surprises for us when we drove down.

the space we played at (expo) was actually fairly well set up. there was a stage of sorts, then a small area for a crowd and a little bar. it was tiny, but it was definitely conducive to having shows. the sound system was fine (after the "sound guy" figured out how to work it, which was halfway through the band before us' performance) and the guy mike who was the contact at our venue was nice and helpful. the turnout wasn't great, but we played at 4pm on a sunday so my expectations weren't phenomenal.

i think the festival could use a bit of reorganizing, but that's just a part of the process. it can only get better from here! congrats on the cover page article dave. i will send my criticism/suggestions over in a direct e-mail as not to anger the intergods.
I've read some of the comments posted and for anyone that had anything negative to say, I would like to point out that the musicians have functioning brains and should use them to figure out what they're getting themselves into and if they don't know they should use their communication skills to find out. For instance, "Will we be paid?" What kind of a system will we be playing through? What's provided? Here's our needs can you cover them or should we cover our own?

I used my reasoning skills and realized this may not pan out to be much. "Hmmm, I have a feeling Dynasty at noon on Sunday could be pretty empty." I could have cancelled, any of us could have but we didn't, so, keep in mind we went into this with our eyes open. We have only ourselves to blame for the choices we make. I have done the booking and foot work for showcases and found there is a lot that goes into it that musicians are oblivious too as are first time organizers. This was a huge undertaking and it seemed to me Dave honestly represented it. If you had a bad experience it may help to ask yourself what you could have done different to avoid that. As I understand it Dave has asked for constructive criticism so that he can offer musicians a better experience in the future. Respect yourself, Dave and the dream you had going into this and help make that dream a reality on whatever level you can for yourself or other musicians in the future.

Everything great starts somewhere at some level. If something isn't great, ask yourself why and what you can do to make it great in the future. If there are no changes between this years STPP Fest and next years then by all means get angry but don't stay angry and bitter, move on.
i'm actually surprised to see so many hateful comments on here. our band received great service and had an amazing crowd at stppfest. even though we didn't get paid, we couldn't have been happier. thanks dave and everyone else that worked so hard to put this festival on. hopefully we see you next year !

-tessa/sv
For the record, I have never said "yada yada yada" to Dave Mann or anyone else.
I don't know if you've read all the posts in this thread but many of them aren't talking specifically about the festival. Dave Mann has booked other shows in the recent past and that's what a lot of people are complaining about. For instance, I did ask if there was going to be a PA and a sound man at one of my shows and I was told yes, there would be. When I got to the club there was no one there and there was no PA to speak of. So, in that case I used my functioning brain and communication skills to find out what I was getting into but discovered later on that what I was told wasn't necessarily the case. That's the biggest point of contention here, I think.
"Let me tell you why I can't book at more reliable venues, because all of the more reliable venues already have booking people."

I have booked shows at the Black Cat before! Dante let me and he kept a % of the proceeds that was VERY fair. How does a venue that already has a booking person stop you from setting up shows there? This comes down to my confusion that you just aren't doing it right.
hey! Just wanted to say that Beloved Binge, Sequoya, and Joy in Red (we all toured from Durham, NC) had a great time at STPP, and were quite surprised how well it ran despite the # of bands and that the festival was a first. Dave Mann was extremely nice, and very open to feedback, requesting it often.

Having co-managed DuoFest here in NC a few years in succession, I can say that it's certainly not easy even with only 18 bands. STPP would definitely benefit from a committee o' folks including other band members, bookers, etc. If I had a hat, I'd take it off to Dave for all of the time and thought he put into making something out of nothing -- which many would not have the courage to do.
I only visited a single festival venue, Desperados Burgers. I was playing drums that early evening, so I saw many of my fellow acts Saturday and went back for a few more on Sunday. Adjusting for musical taste, it was a surprisingly decent collection of bands. I was happy to get a free listen to a variety of unknown groups and I really appreciated the refreshing, sometimes silly vibe of the young, out of town musicians. All experienced in an efficient and compressed time frame. It almost stayed on schedule too, a near impossibility. A real treat.
@ DEW and everyone else who doesn't get FLIBBERTYGIBBET'S, AMETHYSTDECIVER'S & NOT A FAN OF THE MANN'S points...and who knows, all three of those posters might be the same person considering that they don't want to say who they are.

..the point being...OMG, they aren't talking about the festival but how I have dealt them (and their gazillion friends who I have booked) the wrong cards. I promised them purple m&m's and all they got in return was half eaten reeces pieces...and how they showed up to a venue that was supposed to have a PA but...it didn't have a PA..so naturally, that is my fault and that makes me the most terrible person in the world.

This is probably my last post for the thread b/c reading some of these comments are somewhat nerve racking especially when people aren't revealing who they are and what bands they are in..but yeah, they are more than happy to say that I have screwed them over...pretty typical of people who hide behind their computers.

There is a bigger picture to their stories and it's the bigger picture that they have a hard time swallowing.

So to the cute trolls out there...continue to keep on trollin'!

Dave
Nope, Dave. I've only posted as myself. I know it might be hard for you to fathom that you've pissed off more than one person but believe me when I say you have. No one's calling you the worst guy in the world (or at least I didn't). My one and only point has been this: you booked shows at questionable venues knowing that they weren't invested in the process, you told people that they would have the most basic essentials (PA & soundman) but when the bands got screwed over by the venues you mostly avoided all responsibility. No one asked for anything unreasonable so I don't understand where that attitude is coming from. You're in a band. Wouldn't you get annoyed if someone booked you a show, said there'd be a stage, PA etc but when you got to the venue it wasn't there? Wouldn't you feel the least bit frustrated when you called the booker and he basically told you that he had better things to do than deal with your problem?

And I am able to see the big picture and that's why I have my complaint. I've booked plenty of shows in my time and I took full responsibility for all of them (that means making sure the bands are happy and get all the things they were promised). If something goes wrong, it's my job to set things right. It's pretty simple. I applaud you for your enthusiasm and dedication to your project but as I've stated before I got the impression at all of your shows that they weren't well organized and that you pretty much left the bands holding the bags. That's not cool. That can be fixed but you have to scale back your vision a little and take the complaints more seriously. Book only what you can handle and handle what you book.
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