Industry Spotlight on Heady Entertainment

by Elise Olmstead

John Church (driving golf cart on the right) with Seth & Jess of Pink Moon & Rock Camp

John Church (driving golf cart on the right) with Seth & Jess of Pink Moon & Rock Camp

Heady Entertainment has become synonymous with the Northern Virginia jam & jamtronica music scene.  Whatever show Heady throws, we know it’s going to be a great time filled with great friends.  It’s not too common for promoters to get warm and fuzzy together, but Appalachian Jamwich believes in working together, just like many promoters and industry leaders in the current music business.  We have become fast friends with John Church and just can’t wait to see the great heights that he will continue to reach bringing music for the people in our area.

When did you start Heady Entertainment?

That was in the fall of 2011.

Is it just you or do you have a partner?

It started with me and a good friend of mine Dave Adams, we’ve been friends for about 13 or 14 years now.  I booked Silo Effect because I wanted to see them up here without always driving down to Richmond.  So I booked a show at Breaker’s, and between booking it and the show happening Dave approached me and said “If you’ve got a show, I’ve got a dream, let’s do this.” It started from there, we did the first show and 250 people showed up, so we decided we wanted to do it again.

What was your initial reason for wanting to throw shows?

Originally I didn’t really have any intention of throwing more than one.  I booked it because I wanted to throw a house party with them.  It wasn’t until Dave approached me that I thought about continuing it. There was a lot of momentum following that first show because we never really had a jamtronica act play up here.  After we did it, it felt awesome.  It’s really cool to have a lot of people get down and know that you helped bring that together.  After standing out and looking at the crowd we could see that there was potential there that was clearly untapped.

What got you into jam and jamtronica music?

I’m going to catch flack for this…it was the Disco Biscuits.  That’s what drew me in.  A friend of mine came up to me and said “I know you’ve never been to a show like this before, but come check them out.” It was the first time I really saw a jam band, I had heard of Phish but never really listened to them, heard of The Grateful Dead, but didn’t really get into them.  So I went to see this Biscuits set, and in retrospect it probably wasn’t the best start to the jam band scene, but I was convinced that I had an amazing time and then went to like 95 other shows after that.

What was your first concert you ever attended?

The answer that I would tell people is that I saw Blues Traveler my junior year of high school at Wolf Trap.  That’s not necessarily the first one, though, the first one was Barenaked Ladies.

That’s actually much better than my first concert, mine was Nelly.  Don’t be afraid to answer Barenaked Ladies, I think that’s awesome.

They were definitely a guilty pleasure of mine.

What are some of your likes and dislikes about promoting?

I think there’s a misconception that we make a lot of money doing things like this. But there are things what I like to call fringe benefits.  Obviously getting into shows for free, that’s awesome.  If anyone tells you there isn’t an ego boost to throwing shows they are lying to you.  That’s always cool.  The coolest thing is seeing this scene of music that helps to support us now.  The shows we throw locally have a core group of 30 or 40 people that always come out.  Before these people were out seeing shows, but they were all kind of spread out in different cities.  Now we have this core group of people in our area that come out, and we hang out outside of the shows, too, we go bowling or whatever.  The downside is having to tell people “no” a lot.  Having to get honest with bands that aren’t ready or aren’t committed.  Bickering online…finding out what the best way to do things and balancing everything.  Those are probably my dislikes.

What is your favorite venue currently?

Ooh…that’s a good question.  I feel obligated to say the Broadberry in Richmond, but I’ve only been there once so it’s hard for me to say it’s my favorite.  The National is great, I have a blast every time I’m there.  I think the site lines there are incredible, you can be anywhere and see the stage clearly.  You know me, I’m pretty average height, so that’s one thing I don’t like when seeing music like at 9:30 Club, if you’re not in the first two rows you aren’t going to be able to see anything.  Don’t even count Red Rocks…Red Rocks and Suwannee are some of the best venues I’ve been to but they are so far away it’s hard to go on a reasonable basis.

What is your favorite festival currently?

I think Camp Barefoot’s my favorite.  My first year at Barefoot was just a couple of weeks after I booked Silo Effect for the first time.  It was right after I talked to Dave and first started to see  that potential.  When I went there I was like “Yeah, man, this is it. This is what I want to strive for.”  They’ve got a cool vibe there, and the property is gorgeous.

Absolutely, Barefoot’s one of my favorites, too.  How did you first hook up with Silo Effect?

One night after one of the best Biscuits shows, it was  2/17/07 in Sayerville, NJ, a phenomenal show, we were wandering around the hotel and I was introduced to a guy named Billy who introduced me to a guy named Baker, who eventually ended up inviting me to come down to Richmond and hang out one night.  That’s when I met a lot of people and most of my friends now in Richmond.  I went back to his house and there were cool hand painted walls everywhere, cool names, quotes and pretty flowers and stuff.  Upstairs they had this rotating jam that went on for 10 hours.  I found myself standing in the middle of this, it had to be like a 10 foot by 10 foot room, watching all these musicians jamming.  It was incredible.  It was one of the first times that I felt a real connection to the music.  Those artists in the room ended up forming Silo Effect a month later.

What band do you think is going to be the next big up and coming band on the scene?


I’d have to agree with you on that one!  What is your reason for saying that?

They are incredible. They have a sound that’s very tight.  It’s a lot of things at once, it gets you moving almost every time.  I’ve been fortunate enough to run lights for them a couple of times and I love it, every time.  I think they cross jam bases very well.  Kids that like Dosio or Lotus or Pigeons or whatever, everyone seems to agree that they are awesome.  Kids that don’t even like jam bands that much like them a lot.

What’s the next big thing for Heady Entertainment?

I’m super excited about the show we have coming up Saturday May 17th at Jammin’ Java with The Heavy Pets and Threesound out of Winchester.  The Heavy Pets are absolutely incredible, they’re one of my favorite bands and they’ve done a lot for me.  They were the first, like, “bigger band” that we booked. It took me about a year to book their first show, and their shows always do well.  The last time we had them it was at Empire, a 500 person room.  The show did well and it was great, but I think moving them to an intimate venue like Jammin’ Java, it’s really going to be a cool vibe. Also May 8th we have People’s Blues of Richmond and Feed God Cabbage at Ned Devine’s!

I love those guys, they are awesome. And so are you, thank you John for talking with me today.

Thank you, it was  a pleasure.


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