What’s that old cliché? — Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.
It’s obvious that Jacki Becker, founder and boss woman of Eleven Productions, is doing what she loves. And while I’m sure she would admit that at times it takes a tremendous amount of work, there are rewards as well.
"Working with incredibly talented and creative people every day, how could I ask for more?" explained Becker, before revealing perhaps the best perk of working in the music business. "Oh, and the fact that I have never needed to buy t-shirts, hoodies or cloth bags in my life."
Hey, it’s the little things sometimes people, c’mon!
Becker has seen bands come and go, seen the ups and downs of the industry, and discovered many artists "before they were big." For 10 years now, her company has promoted bands in the Lawrence and KC areas, as well Omaha, Iowa City, Springfield, and St. Louis.
As the live music biz continues to evolve, what with the impending extinction of the cd, the rampant file sharing, and the internet’s ability to literally create a hit overnight, Becker sees the challenges working bands face that were non-existent 10 years ago.
"I think that it’s a lot harder for bands these days to make a living," Becker says. "With labels not able to offer tour support very much these days, it takes a lot more money to tour. Bands can’t just get in a van and play for 50 dollars."
To celebrate Eleven Production’s decade of debauchery, Becker and her team decided to do the only rational thing they could do: throw a huge ass party on November 11, 2011 (that’s 11.11.11 folks!) at about every venue in Lawrence, with like, a gillion great bands.
I got the chance to ask Jacki a random series of questions about music, life, and Spinal Tap, and here’s what she said…
MD: Who was the first band you ever booked?
JB: Well technically I booked bands in my house in college, so it’s a bit sketchy as to who that would have been. The first national band Eleven booked was probably either The Faint or Pedro the Lion.
MD: What are the main differences in your business now, as compared with 10 years ago?
JB: Oh goodness, well back when I started we faxed and used the phone instead of email and gchat, we used pagemaker instead of photoshop.
MD: What’s your favorite Lawrence venue and why?
JB: I love each venue for so many different reasons. Liberty Hall and the spirit of Tim Griffith. The Granada for a great view from every point in the room, the Bottleneck because it’s where I grew up seeing music, the Jackpot for seeing so many golden nuggets before they were big, the Replay because you never know who is going to be walking to the bathroom while you are watching a show.
MD: Do you ever get tired of music, and just want to sit in a completely quiet room alone?
JB: Nope, that’s what sleeping is for.
MD: What band have you never seen but would most like to?
JB: I would have loved to have see Led Zeppelin in the early years, John Coltrane when he played with Bird, and Miles Davis in the Bitches Brew era. The Clash…
MD: What band have you seen the most times?
JB: There are a few of them that come to mind: Murder by Death, Every Time I Die, My Chemical Romance, and The Get Up Kids.
MD: Have the Spinal Tap people tried to make you change the name of your company from Eleven?
JB: Not yet. That would sure be a shit sandwich if they made me.
MD: What’s been your favorite show of the year so far?
JB: I’m still thinking about this one… Too soon, too soon…. I don’t usually quantify the year in live music until December…
MD: Can you please make Richmond Fontaine (one of my favs) come to Lawrence or Kansas City for a show?
JB: Guess I need to get working on this.
MD: Where do you see Eleven in another 10?
JB: Wow, never thought about 10 years from now. Hopefully we are still doing well and have blossomed into new directions too, working in management, venues, food…
MD: Are there certain musical styles that go over better in Lawrence than, say, KC? Or Omaha?
JB: For sure. If the music appears to be ‘older” it tends to play KC. I mean, HUM just played KC last week. Omaha and Lawrence are so very, very different in what does better there versus here even though we are only a few hours away. A lot of the “neu alt country” does better in Omaha. We can do a lot more hip hop here. Weird noise stuff always does better in Iowa City. St Louis can seem to always support more emo/ pop stuff. Lawrence is solid when it comes to music that is ahead of the trend.
MD: What’s the most frustrating aspect of the live music business?
JB: Oh gosh I guess what is tough, I would say the micromanagement of our industry right now. And the abuse of the letters "ASAP." I really, really don’t like anything in all caps.
MD: Exactly how much ass, in kilograms, is this Friday’s 11.11.11 festivities going to kick?
JB: Well, just remember you can’t dust for vomit.
You can buy wristbands at the Granada to get all access to all shows for $15 ($20 day of show), and tickets for individual shows can be bought at separate venues for $0 – $12.