We recently sat down with Scott Morrill, owner and head talent buyer at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom and The Other Side in Denver, CO to discuss the music scene, how he got involved in working in the industry, some of his favorite musical moments over the years, and the recent acquisition of Fort Collins venues Hodi’s Half Note and The Aggie Theatre. Colorado has such a vibrant music scene, we wanted to get the inside scoop from someone on the inside.L4LM: What was the show that you saw, as a fan, that gave you that “this is IT” moment?SM: There were several shows that I saw that made me realize I needed to be around music my whole life, but one that comes to mind is a late night show at Jazzfest in 2000 with Soulive at the House of Blues Parish Room. I was with four of my best friends and we had no tickets and it was sold out. We ran into Sam Kininger (former sax player for Soulive/Lettuce) outside the venue and told him we were big fans and didn’t have any tickets. He didn’t know us at all but ended up hooking us up with two tickets and then we found two more out front and were in. It was my first time seeing them live and the energy they had going in that room was ridiculous. We all couldn’t stop smiling and it was one of those moments that I said to myself, “Someday I want to make as many people as possible have this feeling that I’m having.”L4LM: Who were some of your favorite acts growing up?SM: My first concert was Michael Jackson with my parents at Mile High Stadium when I was 7. I, of course, loved Michael Jackson as a kid. But as I got to middle school I listened to all classic rock, the typical artists that everyone passed around – Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Doors, The Beatles, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Grateful Dead. Then I got to high school and listened to lots of hip-hop. I was a freshman in 1990, so I was listening to Dr Dre, A Tribe Called Quest, Pharcyde, Digable Planets, De La Soul, and quite a bit of gangsta rap. I knew all the words to NWA, Ice Cube, Easy E, etc. When I got to college, I started getting into jam and funk. I saw a bunch of Widespread Panic and Phish and then Galactic, Soulive, moe., Yonder Mountain String Band, etc…Soulive “El Ron” Live at Cervantes 8/22/08:[courtesy of MoBoogie]L4LM: How did you get involved in the music industry? What was your first job?SM: I went into commercial real estate out of college and was a financial analyst for five years, but always had music on my mind. I was able to take out a second mortgage on my house to start Cervantes. So my first job was everything, really. I helped with the bar, made the posters, did lights and sound, hospitality for bands, and gradually got into talent buying.L4LM: What are the Top 5 favorite shows that you have booked?SM: Soulive was my first big show I booked the first year Cervantes was open and will always be one of my favorites. After that, there have been so many but a few of my favorites would be Pretty Lights, Greensky Bluegrass, Lettuce and Fruition for my birthday last year was amazing. Those all being at Cervantes. I also book Sonic Bloom Festival and Arise which have definitely been some of my favorite musical experiences with so many different bands. I also would have to say Tipper at Red Rocks for my first official show there as a promoter. That was a very special experience. Hard to pick 5!Tipper w/ Android Jones at Red Rocks 2015:[courtesy of bigeyedphish79]L4LM: A lot of folks don’t see all of the behind the scenes work that goes into putting on even just one show, let alone a full year’s worth of shows to fill a venues calendar. Tell us a little about the process and the team that takes care of it all….SM: The team at Cervantes has grown organically over the years and has become something that we are all very proud of. It’s really more of a family than a team. Each show could be broken down into booking, promotion and production. Our booking team consists of Adam Stroul and myself, who are the head buyers, and Hunter Stevens and Dave Halchak who are assistant buyers. After a show is booked it goes to our Marketing Director Diana Azab, who wears several hats and is assisted by Cris Bachman and Jamie Jay. They make sure the show is properly promoted through every outlet possible. Then when it comes down to executing the show, we have our Production Manager, Trent Hufford, handle all the logistics and our General Manager, Matt Greer, there to handle day of show communication and settlements with the band. I feel very fortunate to have a staff who cares so much about Cervantes.L4LM: There is a pretty happening scene in the greater Denver area, and out in Colorado, in general. What do you attribute that to?SM: Well, I think the scene continues to get better each year because we have more and more music lovers moving to Colorado. Colorado offers so many things that are very attractive to twenty-somethings that have just graduated college, or looking for a change from their current environment. Now that we have a reputation for having one of the best music scenes in the country, it is only going to get better. Musicians and fans want to live somewhere they can thrive and Colorado is arguably the best in the nation.L4LM: Cervantes recently purchased The Aggie Theatre and Hodi’s Half Note up in Fort Collins, aka “Fort Fun”, in the last year or so. Fort Collins is a beautiful town, and home to Colorado State University. How important was that acquisition on your end?I think it was a very important acquisition. It allows us to offer bands another market to play when they are routing through Colorado. I think it’s very important for bands to play different markets when they come through Colorado to expose themselves to as many fans as possible. This will only help them grow their overall Colorado fan base to someday play bigger venues in the state such as Red Rocks.Sonic Bloom 2016 Recap:[courtesy of Electronic Colorado]L4LM: Do you think there is over-saturation of the market right now? It seems like there is almost too many shows to choose from. Is that a good or bad thing?SM: I think that as long as the vast majority of the shows are successful that it isn’t over-saturated. It is pretty amazing how many shows we can have in this state compared to ten years ago, or even five years ago. I think the variety of shows to choose from contributes to our music scene and makes it more attractive for fans and musicians to move here. Hopefully the fans can keep up with all the new venues and shows. There is only one way to find out!L4LM: What upcoming shows at Cervantes/Aggie/Hodi’s are you most excited for?SM: So many great shows coming up! Check out Cervantes and Aggie websites for all upcoming shows. We are having Moon Taxi for the first time at The Aggie on Dec. 1st and Cervantes on Dec. 2nd and 3rd the latter of which are dual room shows with Joey Porter’s Shady Business on The Other Side. The Marcus King Band plays Hodi’s Half Note on Nov. 30th. The Travelin’ McCourys are coming through for a run of shows and doing Aggie on Dec. 8th and Cervantes on De.c 10th. Elephant Revival are playing Aggie on Dec. 9th and they are a band that I go way back with and played, I think, their first gig in Denver at Cervantes opening for Railroad Earth back in the day. New Years will be awesome too with Stick Figure in the Ballroom and DeadPhish Orchestra w/ Cycles in The Other Side.L4LM: Thanks so much for sharing with us, Scott. We’ll see you out at Cervantes soon!For information and upcoming shows at Cervantes/Other Side, click here.For information and upcoming shows at The Aggie Theatre, click here.For information and upcoming shows at Hodi’s Half Note, click here.
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