It’s been about six months since opening night at The 321 Local Rock Bar. Since that crazy night we have hosted somewhere around 130 concerts showcasing around 400 bands from near and far. Like any Venue, we have had great nights and quiet nights, smooth events and chaotic near disasters. When presenting live music, expecting the unexpected is always important. Countless variables, tons of human influence, and the gods of chaos always keep us on our toes.
I love every minute of it. I’ve met thousands of new faces. I’ve made tons of friends along the way. My preconceptions of what is possible have evolved as we continue to push forward. I never imagined The 321 Local would be working with national bands and gaining reputation and influence in our region in such a short time. It seems like we have been at this for years. So much has happened so quickly that I was shocked to look at the calendar and realize so little time has passed.
I am often asked the same few questions. I thought I’d take a moment and answer a few of the more frequent questions. If nothing else, It will give a few of my bored FB friends out there in cyberspace something to read. I’m not really looking to field questions and have drawn out commentary about this little note. It’s just something I’ve been meaning to write for a while now. The kids are asleep and I’m awake so I just felt like typing for a bit.
A common question is; “Why did you name the venue 321 Local?” I will tell you it was not my first choice. I kicked around forty or fifty different names before settling on 321 Local. Trademark and copyright issues, domain name availability, and several long conversations weeded out the other names and 321 seemed to always come back to the top. The name is centered around the idea that Brevard is a unique area demographically and the “321″ area code represents all of us. It doesn’t come with preconceptions of genre. If I had chosen a name more genre specific, potential patrons might not give the room a chance.
“321″ citizens here in Brevard are unique because of geographic, financial, and historical anomalies of this area. Obviously, the space program, Port Canaveral, the beaches and military bases have affected this area’s culture significantly. It is also a fact that less than half of our current citizens were actually born here. I was not born here. I moved to Brevard in january of 2000. Eleven years later I can say that I have worked on the cape on launch pads as a welder. I have built machinery involved in the launches of countless rockets, satellites, and the shuttles. I have worked in the port maintaining NAVY and civilian vessels as well as commercial fishing and recreational craft. I worked at a custom machinery factory too. I used to work maintenance on Sterling Casino lines. I have worked on sewer lines and streetlights and so on and so on throughout the county. I have built neighborhoods full of houses and renovated a decent percentage of homes in the area as well. My hands have helped build and create in this county for over a decade. I work hard every day to represent the “321″ in the best possible light. I named my venue “The 321 LOCAL” in order to pay homage and respect to our area’s culture as well as to build on that culture with contributions of music and art.
The most common question; “Why cant my band play covers?”. My answer; I purposely did not get an ascap live music license for the venue because I want to help progress ORIGINAL music from our area’s bands. For far too long, Brevard has been dominated by cover bands so the tourists can get drunk to music they recognize. I did not build this venue for the tourists. I built it for the LOCAL musicians (another reason for the name). I did not want The 321 LOCAL to fall victim to the fate of radio rock with surfboards and TVs blaring sports nonstop. I built the room as an alternative, an escape from that commercial environment. Will I ever get an ascap license? I dont know. Right now not having one helps me end arguments when I tell bands we dont do cover music. If I had the license, I’d be opening the floodgates for cover music and original music would suffer for it.
Another question: ” Why are some people passionate supporters of the venue while others are oddly passionate in opposition?”. My answer; Most have embraced us, a small group of others have not. No one can legitimately deny the fact that we have given multiple chances for everyone in this area to be involved. Alienation was a decision fronted by some of our area’s past failed leaders. Some people had no vested interest isn supporting a scene that eclipsed their own efforts. You can’t please everyone. you cant be bullied or allow others to disrespect the room either. You also can’t allow your detractors to shape your image. I vigorously defend the venue when attacked or disrespected. It is our home. We cannot sit by and let others mess up what we have worked so hard to create. Some people are bitter. I’ve even heard of plans of vandalism associated with names of people who are respected by some in this county. I’m not worried. Fools make foolish mistakes and will be caught and dealt with. No attack will go unanswered.
It’s not in my nature to play by the rules but thus far I have always used legal means to handle situations as they arise. I’m a venue owner. I get cussed at and challenged to fight all the time but I wont risk all I have built just to stomp some kid who amounts to nothing. I have subdued a few foolish drunks who could not be cool. I did so without violence. I do so as a discouragement of violence and we have a great track record of almost no incidents. My staff is ordered never to fight. I will let police handle the fools. I cant let the worthless people in society disrupt the progress we have made. I’m more than secure in my ability to defend myself by any means needed but I’m also smart enough to handle situations professionally. It’s my job after all. I take it all with a grain of salt.
Everyone has opinions. Everyone has the same right to build their own venue and operate it how they see fit. It is easy to sit back and judge. Sometimes I feel like our success in building up such a great scene so quickly is cause for some of the detractors to feel a sense of resentment because of their inability to make progress. People have said for years that our music scene could not be fixed. Some of the big wheels and big deals in town have sat back and watched the scene erode away to nothing. Their failures in music, business, and organization are highlighted and called into question when a virtual unknown like myself can get involved and get things done so efficiently. A wise man once told me ” don’t take business advise from the bankrupt”.
I use my own judgement in the decisions I make. I take advise from people who give it respectfully. I am imperfect. I use my business experience, coupled with determination, and personal sacrifice to make this all work for the greater good. I dont line my pockets with money or pay myself at all. I dont have a rich family who bought this place for me. I took out a loan and maxed my credit cards (seriously, haha!) and did all the labor myself or with help from good friends who understood what we were making happen. This venue has nothing to do with money. I have spent more than I will get back anytime soon.
I have made some mistakes along the way but I can say with confidence that The 321 LOCAL is unmatched in Brevard county. Until a person has achieved as much or more successfully, I cannot take their criticisms seriously. Jealousy and embarrassment over personal failures can make people vindictive and ugly. I just cant concern myself with the grumbling of the dinosaurs. They have built up their empires (in high school ) and watched them crumble from lack of maintenance and vision. Their time is over. Dinosaurs will die. I’m not sorry if I have to be the meteor. When people talk about music in Brevard county in the past, They may mention you in passing. When they talk about music in Brevard’s future, The 321 Local is where it’s at.
Yea I know I’m cocky. Abrasive. Pointed. Opinionated. That’s me. Some people dont like that. Some call me the nastiest of names. Some attack those around me. More call me friend and brother. Those who call me friend or brother are the only voices I concern myself with. I promise those friends and brothers that The 321 LOCAL will carry on and grow long after all the detractors have faded by the wayside, maybe even long after I am gone from this earth. We have built something where there was nothing and no one can take that away. We did it against all odds, with almost no money and little community support. A lot of blood, sweat, and beers later, The 321 LOCAL stands as a proud representative of Brevard county music and art and that’s cool with me.