Presenting the first in a series of weekly interviews with Charlotte-based movers, shakers, tastemakers, activists and other notables. This week, we talk to local music promoter Michael Kitchen.
Last weekend, he brought former Tony!Toni! Tone! frontman Raphael Saadiq to town. And this week, Kitchen is behind singer Eric Benets NoDa performance. But with dollars short and people worrying about their jobs, how can a promoter make some cash?
Creative Loafing: How do your shows fare in tough economic times?
Michael Kitchen: I have to think about the artist that Im [bringing to town]. Who I think will attract more people. I also have to look at my overall budget: what Im charging people to get in, how much Im paying the artist. Its been crazy in the South. Gas is crazy, and with Wachovia, no one knows whats going to happen to their jobs. I have to really get into the mind of the consumer. Would I pay this much to see this person?
What changes have you seen in the Charlotte entertainment landscape in the last five years?
I still think there is a market for live music here. Its still slowly building. Theres not a lot of diversity in entertainment here. Things seem to be stagnant with no creativity. The only thing I see is that you have somebody redoing things that have already been done. It doesnt have any creativity or something that says I really need to go to that. Then you have the issue of trying to get these people that have moved here and are used to going out every night and going to live music and different events; a lot of them are still hard to reach.
What does Charlotte need to do to make its nightlife exciting?
Support. That can be branched off into buying advanced tickets, just supporting the live music scene and entertainment period. People here are finicky. If they dont know that artist, they feel like they shouldnt go. The problem here is that people dont look at it as good music [if theyre not familiar with the artist]. But you can go to any other city, people just go and listen to it.
And while Kitchen is known as a soul music promoter, expect to see him branch out into alternative music soon. He says there are a lot of rock bands on the horizon that hed like to bring to the Queen City. Hes also planning to throw theme parties in the future are well to add some flavor to the vanilla nightlife in Charlotte.