Every promoter faces challenges — risks, expenses — when trying to book bands for a particular venue, but imagine trying to book shows in nearly 10 different locations. That's the task Gregg McCraw faces on a regular basis while promoting and booking shows under the MaxxMusic monicker at venues including The Evening Muse and Double Door Inn, as well as the Visulite, McGlohon, Stage Door, Belk and Knight theaters.
McCraw, who is a chemist by day, works with various venue owners — such as the Visulite's Bernie Brown, Douglas Young at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center and the Muse's Joe Kuhlmann — to fill calendars with concerts of all sizes. What has become a second full-time job for McCraw started more than a decade ago when he helped organize an Americana showcase at the Double Door Inn.
"After a while, I got tired of driving to Asheville and Chapel Hill to see shows," says McCraw, 53, who has booked and promoted shows in Charlotte for roughly 15 years. "The music scene here is growing and has gotten better over the years. I used to do 50 to 60 shows a year, and this year it's going to be around 250."
Working closely with so many venues allows McCraw to not only put the right band in the right venue, but to help bands build a fan base and work their way into larger venues. Someone can start out at the Muse (100 people) before going to the Visulite Theatre (400 people) and then on to Knight Theater (2,000 people).
Booking so many shows also enables him to take more risks on unknown acts and bring in a wider variety of genres. "The biggest problem I have with booking shows is convincing a band that they're going to do well in Charlotte," McCraw says.
He continually tried to get Neko Case to Charlotte, even though she always passed it by. When it finally came to fruition in 2009, the show at Knight Theater was sold out and Case has been back twice since. An upcoming concert by Brandi Carlile sold out so quickly at McGlohon Theatre, McCraw was able to move it to the larger Knight Theater.
On his wishlist: Mumford and Sons, Blitzen Trapper and a return appearance by Dawes.