Joe Ferguson and Greene Street Club area deserving of respect

by Angela L. Slater

This is just something that I have to put out there.

I know that quite a few, if not most of the bands that I have worked with have already played Greene Street club at one point or another, and in doing so have likely spent some time with the club’s talent buyer, Joe Ferguson. I just want to say that it’s not often that I find a promoter that I instantly have unabashed respect for… actually usually it’s quite the opposite.

Here is an explanation as to why I am impressed with Joe and the Greene Street club: Until you are a touring band, a tour manager of a band or even a fan of a band that’s touring through your hometown, you may be completely unaffected by the talent buyers in your favorite clubs. But as soon as you cross the tracks into one of the categories mentioned, you are in some way or another caught at the mercy of the man or woman behind the curtain.

Truth be told, the crowd is usually less than completely unaware of the curtain or the person behind it – but from the minute they come through the door, the time they spend huddled against the stage, the way they file out at the end – the experience is stamped with the signature of the wizards themselves.

Bands and fans reflect on the elements: What makes the event a success? No secret that positive or negative energy can radiate from stage to crowd and back again. It is also not a myth that the projections from a microphone continue to dominate the phenomenon of texting when it comes to sending a ferocious message out to the world: Still faster, much louder and typically in the hands of an influencer.

What is it then that this “keeper of the scene” must do in order to harness the good, embrace the momentum and funnel the favor to future events? What is the secret to gaining respect, the key ingredient to the success of the world’s independent talent buyers, ambitious promoters and passionate producers that float and fly behind the music?

While any good promoter will step up and use the word “passion” when they describe what it takes, they usually dig to uncover the rest of the explanation. The reason is because passion drives every other movement and becomes the foundation for the world’s best promoters, but it is the energy that follows that passion that can truly make “all the world a stage.”

And then there is persistence, a word that will scare 99 percent of the youth that claim to want to be a music promoter; the the same word to defines the quality of the 1 percent that actually take on the music industry as they mature.

Herein lies the issue: Passion and persistence have often been used to describe the qualities found in dictators, warlords, mob leaders etc. Certainly, at one point in time many of those people also gained the respect and following of the people in the “crowd.” This is not inconsistent with those promoters that rule their scenes with a heavy hand, a stifling smog and gloom for upcoming local bands, and a thirst for short-term personal gain… the warlords of our own music world… the virus that resides in the weakened heart of a struggling scene.

To define the rare breed of history makers and future legends apart from the “rather forgotten or unfortunately inescapable” is to add the following qualities: compassion and wisdom. With passion, there must be compassion in order to offset the inherent human desire for personal gain by including an infliction to positively affect the lives and futures of those around you. Compassion is what drives a promoter to consider the needs of a traveling artist, to listen, communicate, understand and react to the endless rise and fall of situations in the touring community, to keep a watchful eye over the young fans exploding with teen angst and emotion, and to lend and open ear and the outstretched arm of opportunity to the local musicians. Compassion is that which truly balances the pursuit fueled by passion.

Finally, wisdom, the least obtainable and often acquired by feelings of pain, defeat and endless obstacles. While all other components define a good promoter, wisdom refines a promoter and greatness becomes possible.

Wisdom though not so simple but often simply considered as the “serenity to accept the things that cannot be changed, the courage to change the things that may be, and the wisdom to know the difference” is the icing on that which has already long been in the oven of future and potential.

Greensboro, the home of Joe Ferguson and the Greene Street club, is a blossoming scene with quickly rising local bands, ambitious talent managers, indie label owners and ambitious, loyal youth that are dedicated to the rise of the scene. With such chemistry, such a city will be hard to ignore. In the unquestionably capable hands of Ferguson, the future of this particular music scene is ever so bright. Support your local music scene!

Angela L. Slater is the registered agent of LadyFox Productions and Just ‘Cause Music Convention. She lives in Durham.