People — Dan Maimone

A music scene—one rock show at a time

Dan Maimone is a big fish in the Manchester pond    website

By Bernard Vaughan [bvaughan@hippopress.com]

Rock shows don’t happen by themselves.

A typical show lasts an hour or two or three, but for the promoter who coordinates the show, securing venues, dealing with venue managers, sound and lighting technicians, tracking down bands, negotiating their schedules and, finally, pampering them backstage are often frustrating processes that take weeks. Considering all the preparation, the show is practically an afterthought—a colorful, loud and, ideally, profitable afterthought.

But a lot of the times that’s not the case—promoters often lose money. Like any lifestyle depending on rock and roll, it’s risky. You need a savvy business sense, good taste (or savvy bad taste, depending on what venue you’re promoting for) and, most importantly, a lot of patience.

In the last couple years Dan Maimone, 28, has encouraged some of Manchester’s most talented acts and attracted some of New England’s best acts—not to mention burgeoning national bands—to Manchester. And just as disheveled would-be rockers don’t simply show up at a gig, say “What’s up, Manchester?” and start rocking out, promoters work for years honing their business skills and building contacts.

Maimone, originally from South Shore, Mass., got his start as an usher at the South Shore Music Circus in 1990, where he worked for seven years, moving up to stagehand and stage manager.

“I really picked up every aspect of running an event there,” Maimone said.

In the meantime Maimone was making frequent trips to Boston to watch bands, where he would volunteer to help move equipment on and off stage. On one of these trips he met the band Rubyhorse, whose members had just emigrated from Ireland.

“Because none of them had driver’s licenses, I got a job driving them around on their East Coast tour,” Maimone said. “And the whole time—they’d just been signed to a major label—they were interviewing all these managers: Bob Dylan’s manager, Guns N’ Roses’ manager.”

Through contacts he made on that trip Maimone got a job as a personal assistant to Aerosmith after graduating from Bridgewater State College in 1998 with a BA degree in Biology.

“It was crazy,” Maimone said. “I was young and inexperienced. I developed a stutter, actually, because of the pressure.”

(Although a confidentiality agreement forbids Maimone from revealing any interesting stories, he did allow that Steven Tyler couldn’t get over the fact that Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday.)

According to Maimone, it was actually an Aerosmith show with Guns N’ Roses he attended in seventh grade—his first concert—that inspired him to seek a life in the music business.

“As soon as the lights went off before the first band went on and the crowd roared, I just knew I could never have a real job,” Maimone said.

After tiring of organizing Steven Tyler’s scarves and cleaning Joe Perry’s sunglasses, so to speak, Maimone hooked up with Tim Bechert, a friend from the South Shore Music Circus who had moved on to the Nassau Colliseum in New York. There Maimone became an event manager.

“I’d never planned an event before,” Maimone said, discounting the many “Dan-a-palooza” parties he’d thrown in the back yard of his South Shore home. “I learned the ropes.”

In 2001 Maimone joined Bechert again, this time in opening the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester. Here, too, Maimone worked as an event manager.

“We did everybody, Elton John, Cher, Aerosmith—I worked with them again,” Maimone said.

There Maimone met Leigh Twarog. The two married in June.

“I actually hired her,” Maimone said, laughing.

Shortly after arriving in Manchester, Maimone started Small Productions as a side project. His first Small Pond event was a Halloween party in 2002 at Milly’s Tavern. Maimone wanted to emulate the quality rock shows he was seeing in Boston.

“I went out and got a bunch of sponsors, got the best Boston bands that I knew of,” Maimone said. “We made every mistake we could possibly make, lost a ton of money and decided to never do it again.”

About six months later, 100 people died in The Station nightclub fire in West Warwick, R.I.

“It was a paralyzing experience working in the industry and spending so much time in these clubs,” Maimone said. “That probably affected me deeper than 9/11, it just hit home more.”

In a week’s time Maimone organized a benefit show at Milly’s that raised $3,000 for the Citizen’s Bank Fire Relief Fund.

“At that point, having it be a success, learning from my mistakes, [I got back into it],” Maimone said. “Every single event I’ve learned something new.”

Some of those mistakes included buying way too much beer and food for bands, over-paying bands and advertising unwisely.

“I didn’t know my demographic,” Maimone said. “Most of the lessons have been in marketing. I’ve never taken a business class in my life, so I was stumbling my way through it.”

Maimone started organizing shows on a monthly basis, and it got to the point, in December 2003, where the income he was making from Small Pond equaled that from the Verizon. He decided to take the leap and do Small Pond full-time.

“It’s exciting to see Dan’s Growth,” said Tim Bechert, the general manager at the Verizon Wireless Arena, who worked with Maimone at the South Shore Music Circus and brought Maimone along to the Nassau Coliseum and the Verizon. “He’s got great people skills and a great work ethic. It’s great to see somebody grow like that, professionally and personally.”

Maimone feels his experience lends Small Pond a level of legitimacy attractive to many bands.

“I’ve seen how Clear Channel would do a show at the Verizon, and I sort of take the same elements and bring it down to doing a show at Milly’s,” Maimone said.

Beyond legitimacy, Maimone, with Lee’s help, adds a personal touch to his managing and promoting.

“…I bring to the table…the business aspect and knowing the bands, she takes care of all hospitality,” Maimone said. “She’ll actually bake cookies and brownies, and put out chips and dip; she’ll have candles lit and she’ll hang drapes. I see the way bands are treated in Boston; we treat them here like rock stars.”

Not long after starting Small Pond Productions, Maimone became the manager for the local band the Everyday Visuals. Recently, Small Pond merged with Red Fez Records to become Small Pond Entertainment, and as a result, he now also manages Portland’s Jeremiah Freed and handles booking for Waltham and Chauncey.

“Dan’s a hell of a hard worker,” said Bob Lord of Red Fez. “His execution of ideas is skilled and thorough across the board. “

For all the headaches, Maimone thrives on his job—or rather, lifestyle.

“It’s incredibly glamorous,” Maimone said. “That’s what drew me into it. To be able to go to rock and roll shows for a living, to plan rock and roll shows for a living—that’s sexy. I can’t think of a better job. I wake up every single day so excited to go to work.” 

—Bernard Vaughan

 
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