Indie Sounds: You have something cooking at Zachary Scott Theatre - the ZACH - this weekend. Tell us about it?
John Pointer: I've been working full time as a musician in Austin since 1996. In 2007, the ZACH asked me to play Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar, and that's where this started. I realized that there was a whole group of people over there who would prefer not to go to a bar to see live music - over 20,000 on their email list alone.
I came back from a solo tour of Europe last year. Over there, I played in concert halls and when I landed back here, I knew I had to create this venue - where quality is unquestionably guaranteed, parking is easy, seating is comfortable, the show is produced theatrically and the music doesn't have to compete with the social scene like it does at a bar.
I did two solo shows in January just to see how it would go, I placed Wendy Colonna, Dave Madden and Strings Attached in there a few weeks ago, and now I'm doing another solo show, but this time I've got three acts per night that I believe with my whole heart will really blossom with a performance platform like this - Seahorse, Monahans, and Molly Venter on Friday, and Trio Los Vigilantes, David Rice and Wayne Sutton on Saturday.
IS: Austin has tons of live music venues, why does it need another one?
John: Yes, Austin has tons of live music venues. but nothing like the ZACH. It's an octagonal theatre, with 130 seats only three rows deep completely surrounding the stage, acoustically designed to carry the voice, with a fully professional theatre lighting grid above, a full-time lighting technician to run it, a full-time sound to make sure the sound is perfect, and most importantly the audience-artist relationship is completely different in there - in bars the social scene and alcohol sales rival and sometimes swallow the music, but at the ZACH. the music is the destination and the quality performance is the reason for going.
IS: What are your plans for shows at the ZACH after this weekend?
John: It mostly depends on money. I'm reaching out to businesses and patrons who would like to put capital into the live music in the Live Music Capital. The ZACH is a nonprofit, so it's an ideal opportunity for private citizens to do public good and build an unrivaled platform for talent with dependably high quality. Once I secure funding, I'll move forward with more shows, and eventually I see a ladder forming there - 130 seats on the small stage, 236 on the middle stage, and they're building a 500 seat theatre over the next few years. At that point, you can develop acts up the ladder and when they're too big for the 500 seater, they could actually move up to the Paramount. Right now, as they say, "You can't get there from here."
IS: You're also working on a project called Patronism.com. What's that about?
John: It's really about taking the oldest form of arts funding - patronage - and thoroughly modernizing it. There is a working beta version on my website at johnpointer.com. The basic idea is that I'm a musician, not a salesman. Until now, musicians have had to be salespeople - selling shirts, tickets, CDs, stickers ... the list goes on. What I've done is created an area just for patrons, where they can get all of my music - even some that's out of print or unreleased - by subscribing at *whatever level they choose* to fund the creation of new work.
With only 500 patrons in the whole world subscribing at $5/month, I have a salary to simply focus on making music, creating venues like the ZACH, and I continue to move forward more securely with a career that has always been notoriously unstable.
Patronism.com is the serial version of my patron area, and it cures all the headaches - transaction fees, smart phone access, etc. - and will be a tool for any artist to use to create a salary with their fans. I believe it will favor hard-working, compelling artists and will increase the availability of all sorts of great music.
IS: Away from the business, what's news with you musically?
John: I've been in a period of intense stress and growth. That always results in an explosion of new music. I've been writing a lot, and have been talking with Jason McKenzie, drum and indian percussion virtuoso, about doing a looping duo with him on all manner of drums, loops and percussion, and me on vocals, beatbox, bass, cello, guitar, electric guitar, keys and electronic drums. I don't know what it will turn into, but it sounds like fun!
IS: And musically, what's coming next for you?
John: I'm really looking forward to the shows this week, live performances are my favorite things in the world. I've been doing a lot of performance meditation - I just pick up an instrument, get out of the way and let the music flow through. There has been a lot of cool stuff coming out of my cello lately, and I'll play one of those new pieces this weekend. I'm excited - I can feel the tornado coming and will be writing like a whirlwind over the next few months to keep up with it. It's an exciting time!