Booking Guidelines

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This is for those of you who would like to be booked at Caffè Lena.

Before getting in touch about a booking, please read the guidelines below. I explain my booking process and preferences on this page in order to help you decide if Caffè Lena is a good match for you.

What Should You Send Me?

NO need to mail a press kit and CD! Press kits are expensive to produce and time-consuming to review. I’ll respond to your request by looking at your website, EPK, listening to songs (online), watching live performance videos on YouTube, and checking out the action on your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

By the way, I’m often asked about what I look for in a website. Here are the key elements that I find very helpful:

  • Generous song samples (not 30-second clips) and live videos.
  • An EPK with downloadable, press-quality photos (not a casual performance shot, not a low-resolution photo useful only for webpages, crisp rather than fuzzy and dark, thoughtfully and interestingly composed). Make it easy and attractive for the press!
  • A succint (50-75 word) bio/artistic description that can easily transfer to press releases and our own promo materials. It’s interesting for fans to read about your life-long evolution as an artist, but for presenters and the press you should offer something short and to the point.

Requirements

  • I don’t book artists who are just starting out. You need to have put in some years as a touring professional. I look for people who have played festivals, colleges, clubs, and done some significant travelling. There are many venues where you can accrue that sort of experience. Caffè Lena is for people who have already done so.
  • I don’t book people on their first tour of the region. If you haven’t already built a base around here, but you are well-established elsewhere (you’ve won awards at Kerrville, have headlined at important West Coast clubs, won big songwriting awards), I’d be happy to talk about ways we might begin a relationship.
  • I like music that is primarily acoustic. I need to get the impression that the artist is familiar with American roots music, and that those old songs inspired the current work in some way. You don’t have to include Shady Grove and Hard Time Killing Floor in your set, but do you know those songs? I like songs that could only be written by a person who knows heartbreak, adventure, and selfless love. I like a powerful emotional impact. I also like brilliant playing and wild quirkiness. I don’t like predictable rhymes, songs that can be played in the background, or that sound like pop music minus the expensive production. I like artists who are skilled at between-song patter; who tell the kinds of stories and jokes that listeners want to take home and share.
  • I look for people who like playing small rooms. If your dream is to get on Oprah and make a million bucks, we’re probably not a great match.
  • I book shows about 4 to 6 months ahead.
  • It often takes at least a month to respond to unsolicited booking requests.

A Word About Opening Acts

I have virtually no budget for paying opening acts. The few openers that I book are not new to gigging, they’re just new to the area. I will almost always say no to requests to open shows. I try to respond to all of my e-mail, but if you’re asking about an opening slot and it’s not something I want to pursue, I may not get back to you. I wish it didn’t have to be that way, but the number of requests I get is more than I can handle.

Emerging Artist Break-Out Series

Our Wednesday night “Emerging Artist Break Out series is for local musicians who are just starting out. It gives talented amateur performers the chance to do a real show (often their first) in a real club, and is a safe place for teens to hang out and support the creativity of their peers. Artists are selected from our weekly open mic, or are students at area high schools and colleges. Unfortunately, we have cut back on this series so available spots are fewer than ever. We are now offering just four or five Emerging Artist Break Out shows each year.

You don’t need professional photos or posters or recordings to get one of these gigs, but you must be from the area, be able to play for at least 90 minutes, and be fully committed to promoting your show. Electric instruments, drum kits, and contemporary musical styles are acceptable on Wednesdays, but we prefer original music, unless you’re performing songs from the folk, jazz, or blues traditions.

If you are wanting to get your foot in the door of the regional music scene or are just looking to develop your stage skills, please join us for an open mic. We have a general open mic each Thursday, and themed open mics (poetry, blues, storytelling, etc) on many Wednesdays. Check the calendar for details.

If you haven’t been dissuaded by what you’ve read, go ahead and send an e-mail to sarah@caffelena.org with a link to your website. I love to review new music and set up the concert schedule, but my job encompasses much more than that. With all due respect and apologies, it may be a while (one to two months) before you hear from me. If you’re looking for a very specific date and need a quick answer, please indicate so in the subject line of your message and I’ll make every effort to get right back to you.

I look forward to meeting you.

Sarah Craig, manager