How did this project come about, what was the impetus?
Mike: After HiFi closed in October (2017) I got in my car and drove 11,000 miles around the country in my 2001 Taurus station wagon to sorta clear my head and figure out what I was going to do next. Not an easy proposition at 51 years old, especially when you consider that when I left the music business (when Brownies closed in 2002), iTunes was MAC-only and Napster was in court. So all the knowledge I had about revenue streams and how to promote was terribly outdated. And I hadn’t looked for a job or created a resume since 1993… The live music biz didn’t change as much as the recorded music world, so I started doing some tour managing and a little artist management, etc. My friend Jed Becker asked me to help him get people onto a fundraiser he was doing at Pianos, and the next week the Parkland shooting happened. Like everyone, I was stunned, but when Emma Gonzalez, the Hogg family, and Fred Guttenberg started speaking up and getting such traction I had this (not very well thought out) moment where I thought to myself, “why are you helping out on a small show when you know so many people and you have all the time in the world”? So that’s what started it, but without a company or a venue or a date it took a few months just to get the ball rolling. The first commitments are the hardest to get, so a TON of credit (and gratitude) goes to Craig Finn, Britt Daniel, Hamilton Leithhauser, Ryan Miller and a couple others who said yes despite the fact that I had never done anything even 30% of this show’s size. They knew me enough to trust me to get it going (or they assumed I wouldn’t and said yes just to shut me up) — you’ll have to ask them….
What can we expect from the actual show, I know you mentioned hoping it would have a Last Waltz kind of feel to it. Is there gonna be a house band?
There will be at least TWO house bands (hoping for a third), and some folks will do solo songs too.. The show is a Revue, I guess. We’re celebrating the long history of Protest Music and other socially conscious songs. So most singers will do one or two songs — but the more “famous” names will be offered a third or more so people coming will get to see more from the folks they presumably paid to see.
And yes I am going for a “Last Waltz” kind of vibe where there are always a few extra people on stage doing harmonies, guitar, percussion, whatever. The music will at times be heavy but the vibe will be a big party. And I can say with confidence that its going to be very entertaining! Will Britt Daniel do a Stevie Wonder song? Will Craig Finn to a Nick Lowe song? Who’s gonna sing “Gimme Shelter?” Or a Curtis Mayfield song? Etc Etc.. It’ll be like the Grammys, but more songs, no award.
How many more performers are still to be announced?
How many? I don’t know — but there are some major requests out there pending. Those $39 “Early Bird” tickets are limited, so I’d recommend folks get theirs NOW.
Flip These Houses
Friday, September 28, 7pm
The Knockdown Center
52-19 Flushing Ave.
Queens, NY 11378