An Interview With Dan Fulton

While some go to or play at shows, Dan Fulton of keeps busy booking them. He devotes his time and effort to this so bands can give theirs' to music.

Fulton got his start booking shows at Long Branch's now-closed-down club Hooligans and continues to expand and apply his knowledge in this area. He developed as a site for the club's show listings and now uses it to book his own shows for other venues. It is a way for people looking to play or see shows to communicate with him.

Fulton's methods produce heavy crowds for solid band line-ups. He has also developed and organized the Battle of the Bands, currently held at The Saint in Asbury Park. This has pitted some of the Jersey shore's top original bands against each other, including Clever Hans and Sprout. During the day, there is the matinee version of this event for younger all-ages bands. This year's prizes include $7,000 cash, as well as rehearsal and recording time.

Fulton said he sees a need to support local original music because former backers are now faltering. With the current overflow of Jersey bands and lack of venues for original music, Fulton's efforts are effective in helping bands do less managing and more playing. The band's responsibility of getting fans out to each show for is still present, but Jersey Shows alleviates some of that burden, giving bands an easier route for promoting.

Rather than booking local acts with a national headliner, local bands are promoted together as the main attraction. In this way, all of their efforts go to them, instead of to a national band that sometimes would not draw without the help of locals. The consistent draw to venues Fulton books, Asbury's Stone Pony, Red Bank's Chubby's, New York's Continental and Jersey City's Uncle Joe's, unequivocally shows that the local music scene can stand on its own and is deserving of more attention.

Jersey Shows has developed a name known by bands and many of their fans. Time will tell if booking agencies which focus primarily on local bands can flourish, but Jersey Shows has already begun to prove itself.

How and why did you form started because I needed an internet avenue for advertising my shows. I needed a site that I could update three, four, five times or more per week as shows got added.

At the time, I was only booking one club, Hooligans, Long Branch, New Jersey, and that club did not have its own site. Instead of me trying to make a site for a club, I planned on making a site that promoted many shows for many different clubs and would highlight the Hooligan's shows first. What happened was, Hooligans closed and I was forced to "spread my wings," as I call it, and book other places as an outside promoter. I found that I could book different clubs and keep my options open. I have found myself, I can push the same, give or take, number of shows per week as I used to at Hooligans as long as they appeal to a much different audience.

For example, all-ages shows Saturdays and Sundays at The Saint in Asbury Park, 21-plus shows on Thursdays at Chubby's in Red Bank, 18-plus shows occasional Wednesdays at The Stone Pony. I have also made some NYC contacts for New York gigs for some bands, too. I don't want to be just a booker, though. I want to actually help these bands.

That is why I am doing the upcoming compilation albums. This will help build some awareness to local NJ bands. Since we lost FM 106.3 WHTG, local programming for the awareness to local bands has gotten worse. There needs to be a way for people to hear these bands. They aren't going to just go out on a whim to see an unknown band. The "Aquarian" is great, but again, what do these bands sound like? The New Jersey music scene needs the radio stations to show some guts and believe in the local bands. They need have people who will care about the local bands, and talk about them on the air and come and see them at local shows. Everything else will follow suit. They will get their sponsors. The bands will play music because they like to and are having fun, not trying to bust their balls to get people to see an unknown band. Their confidence that they actually matter to a music scene will boost them to a new level. Enough ranting about the scene. Next year, I am planning on setting up some U.S. tours for some local bands, more compilation albums.

Do you feel a need for outside booking agents for bands so they can concentrate more on playing?

Yes. Outside booking agents or a manager. The bands need to focus on music, and the manager needs to focus on business side.

What goals did you set forth when first forming Jersey Shows and how have they been met?

I didn't really have goals. I still don't have goals. More like plans. Goals sounds like something that may or may not be met. Plans, to me, are things that get done. It's all about what you get done and knocking down the walls and mountains in your way to get there. Never turning back. Mainly, keep running good shows, getting my name out, helping bands.

Can you tell me about the Battle of Bands, its history, highlights and winners? How has it helped your booking company and the local New Jersey music scene?

The Battle of the Bands started October 7th, 2000. The winner from the first year was Blue Scream, who is still one of my favorite bands. I ran six shows, six bands per show, and picked one winner from each show to make the finals.

I was able to get a decent amount of press on that one. Articles in the now-gone Fred's Pages, and The New York Press. Gave out $750 cash and about $1,000 in prizes. The $2001 Battle of the Bands was a little bigger featuring the famous $2,001 in cash and about $7,000 in prizes. This one ran from January 13th, 2001 to July 21st, 2001, hailing Osiris Rising the winner.

Finally, this year's 2002 Battle of the Bands is the biggest so far, giving out $7,000 in cash and over $16,000 in prizes. Winner to be announced on June 30th, 2002.

The Battles have helped my booking company very much by introducing me to a ton of new bands that I never knew were out there. Yes, it helps the scene. I feel offering the cash and prizes, it's like any competition. If someone offered you five dollars to run down the block you might do it. But if someone said, 'I will give you $500 to run faster than the guy next to you,' you might run a little harder.

As the prizes get bigger, you work harder. The same thing with the bands. The prizes are the incentive to work hard. Last year's band, Osiris Rising, was able to use their recording time they won and the cash to get their first album done. This year being bigger, might help two or more bands accomplish the same thing. This is these bands knocking down walls and going through their mountains.

How do you spread the word about your shows?

I print flyers for almost every show. Some slip through the cracks. I get these flyers up in the clubs and to the bands I'm a regular at the print shops. I have an e-mail list with over 5,000 names on it. The website, getting over 100 hits a day helps a lot.

How successful have you been so far?

I feel that I have been fairly successful so far. Success is what you make it. Some judge it by houses and cars other by less-materialistic things such as pride, control, and respect of your peers and co-workers.

Success? Do my shows work? Yes. Am I booking the best bands in New Jersey? Yes. Am I making a difference? I hope so.

What do you attribute to that success?

Giving 110 percent. You can ask my old friends. (Laughs.) I don't see them much anymore. Spending many a Friday, Saturday night getting tickets and flyers done while people are out enjoying themselves. Ask the sponsors of the Battle of the Bands. When I had tickets at the locations, I used to personally deliver the new tickets every other week along with the new, updated flyers. Hands-on everything. Making sure every aspect goes right. Doing this for a while, you learn where the pitfalls are in each show.

How do you find bands that you want to book?

Some I find by going out, others word of mouth from someone. Or, they go to my site and contact me.

Josh Davidson

Josh Davidson has written music feature articles for Jersey Style and served as the Jersey Shore rock columnist for Steppin' Out Magazine. Other music writing credits include Aquarian Weekly, Jersey Beat, Backstreets and He has written free-lance for the Asbury Park Press' Community Sports section and has written featured articles for its news section, as well as covering campus news and sports weekly for the Signal, the College of New Jersey's (formerly Trenton State College) student newspaper. He has worked as a staff writer for The Independent, and his work for Greater Media Newspapers has also been published in the News Transcript. He is a former beat reporter for the Ocean County Observer who presently is a news writer for Symbolic Systems Inc. supporting the US Army's Knowledge Center. His music writing covers a vast range of topics, from the current cover band craze, highs and lows of the original scene, to the early days of the Jersey Shore rock scene in Asbury Park. He is also a musician, having written hundreds of songs as a singer/songwriter, and playing them out as a solo/acoustic artist. He has also played with cover bands, including It Doesn't Matter, and several original bands, including as the guitarist for the solo project of singer/songwriter Dave Eric. He continues to work on solo material and is presently the guitar player for Jersey Breeze.