I.M.P., owner of Washington, D.C.’s legendary 9:30 Club — which is a multiple-time winner of Rolling Stone’s, Billboard’s and Pollstar’s Nightclub of the Year awards — announced that it has entered into a partnership with Jammin Java and its co-owner/booker Daniel Brindley. Brindley will book U Street Music Hall and will help book the 9:30 Club and other I.M.P. venues. Also as part of the partnership, Jammin Java, Vienna, Va.’s 200-person capacity music club, will become part of the portfolio of venues in which I.M.P. presents concerts.
For 31 years, Seth Hurwitz, chairman of I.M.P. and co-owner of the 9:30 Club, booked all 9:30 Club shows himself. Four years ago, Hurwitz handed off those responsibilities to Melanie Cantwell and since then, she’s also taken on booking the Lincoln Theatre, and I.M.P. shows at U Street Music Hall, Echostage and other venues in the Washington/Baltimore area. Brindley will assist Cantwell in booking all these venues in addition to Jammin Java.
“A couple of years ago, we worked with Daniel on a show at the Lincoln,” said Hurwitz. “I remember from beginning to end thinking, wow, what a normal guy — which is the best compliment you can give someone in our business. He had the same values, and he had a very level head. He was a real promoter. He’s only the second person besides Melanie that I’ve ever entrusted with my business like this, so that should tell you something. We like the way he and his brothers run Jammin Java. He’s experienced and respected. And he’s a really nice person, which I think is important.”
“We’re beyond excited,” said Brindley. “It’s perfect timing and it’s a perfect fit. My brothers Luke, Jonathan, and I have been running Jammin Java for about 14 years, cranking away. We’ve been getting something off the ground, making it nationally known, cutting our teeth. After all this time, we’ve hit a spot where it couldn’t be better timing for us to spread our wings this way. We’re still going to run Jammin Java, but we’ll also be aligning ourselves with a company that we’ve respected, have been friends with, and worked with since the early days. As far as company culture goes, I know Jammin Java is small, but it’s the same culture as I.M.P. It’s such a natural partnership in that sense. We’re the same in the way we treat artists, the way we book shows, our emphasis on great hospitality, and giving a great concert experience. All that fits across the board.”
Hurwitz continued, “Our thing at I.M.P. is to discover bands when they’re small and help them develop. Adding Jammin Java to our portfolio of places to present helps us start at an even earlier level. Jammin Java is as beginning of the process as you can get. That’s where bands start.”
“We’re not just trying to claim ‘history’ with the acts so they’ll play with us later, but we actually try and help develop the artists in building their careers locally. I’m not playing musical sainthood here. It’s purely self-serving, I can assure you. The fact is that acts do better with us later if they work with us earlier. Sam Smith is a fantastic example that we’re really proud of,” said Hurwitz.
Last year I.M.P. presented Sam Smith at U Street Music Hall, a 500-person-capacity club, then Echostage, which holds 3,000, and the Patriot Center, which hold 6,500. This season, I.M.P. had Sam Smith playing the 18,500-capacity Merriweather Post Pavilion. “That’s what we like to do – support the acts at the beginning, then continue it up the line. When you share in the process from the beginning, you really get to know an act, you know their audience, you know what venues work for them, you just know them. Our goal is to prove the end result of all that is what works best in our business,” said Hurwitz.
To that end, for example, I.M.P. now has 600,000 names on its mailing list. “The point is we built an ecosystem here in this market,” said Hurwitz. “Daniel and Jammin Java have expanded that ecosystem to the earliest of stages where development is the most important – with both the acts and the audience – that we’ll keep connected from that point on.”