Here at SN&R, we’ve grown accustomed to taking flak about the Sammies. We’ve heard it all: “The Sammies are nothing but a popularity contest.” “SN&R only pays props to bands that fork over advertising dollars.” And so on.
So, imagine our relief when, at the 14th annual Sammies last Thursday, Empire took all the blows. Don’t get us wrong: We appreciate that the venue was gracious enough to host this year’s event. It’s just that we get a little tired dancing around that ring all alone.
Who was throwing the punches? Charles Twilling (of Anodyne Booking), who’d posted a disgruntled letter on various e-mail lists and online bulletin boards. Twilling’s letter expressed his surprise that Empire, a venue he alleged was unsupportive of local bands, would host an event celebrating local music. Twilling’s main gripe seemed to be that Empire doesn’t permit fliers within a two-block radius of the club. So, he encouraged area musicians to head over there—not for the Sammies, but for an all-out fliering fest.
At 7:15 p.m., only 15 minutes after the doors had opened to VIPs and plus-ones, a flier found its way into our hands. Had Stephen Bingen, trumpeter and vocalist for Raigambre, answered Twilling’s call? No. He simply was promoting an upcoming show. According to Bingen, nobody in the club hassled him (or anyone else) about the fliers. It seemed that Twilling’s allegations had been disproved.
And yet, the next day, Twilling posted another letter regarding the events of the previous night. Apparently, while many of us were inside enjoying an energetic performance by Th’ Losin Streaks, Twilling was outside taking part in another show. According to him, six security guards followed him around and threatened to “take all the fliers off the cars and dump them in the state parking lot, so [Twilling] would get a $10,000 fine for littering.”
According to Abstract Presents’ Brian McKenna, who books the live music at Empire, forbidding the distribution of fliers isn’t an uncommon practice. “Club owners don’t want a bunch of fliers around their venue,” McKenna explained. “It turns into litter, and they get complaints.” Empire has been on the receiving end of such complaints. “We get a great deal of grief from the neighbors about fliers,” added General Manager Lars Gudenberg. “In order to control the garbage problem and littering problem, we don’t even flier ourselves.”
Empire’s response only slightly appeased Twilling. “Sure, there can be fines,” he explained. “But the fines would go to the person fliering or the venue that is hosting the event. So, my fliers would not get Empire in any trouble with the city.” Still, perhaps Twilling should take a lesson from Bingen, who managed to fly, and flier, under the radar, getting the word out on the Raigambre show with the greatest of ease.