Greg Bell has been promoting and putting on shows in the Capital Region now for 25 years. All month long in April, he will be celebrating that milestone with shows each weekend at the Hollow Bar and Kitchen in Albany.
In late march 1992, Bell formed a partnership with his friend Dale Metzger called Two Fools Present. They proceeded to put on what turned out to be the first of many shows promoted by Greg. It was held on April Fools Day at the Masonic Hall on lower Madison Avenue. The bands who played were the Sharks, Hard Times, Motherjudge and Brian Kenny and Friends. Two Fools worked together for an outdoor festival and two or three more club shows and parted ways. In 1993 Bell teamed up with Jeff Guthrie to form Guthrie/Bell Productions. Jeff left the business a few years later but Bell continues to work under that name today.
NYSMusic caught up with Bell to talk about his career and how he’s made it this far while staying so successful.
Neil Benjamin: You’ve been putting on shows locally for a while, and now you’re celebrating a big anniversary. What’s it been like to be such a huge part of the Albany music scene?
Greg Bell: I had always been a part of the local music scene .I had many friends in local bands and I probably went to at least one show per week from my college days until I started promoting on my own. One of the reasons that I started putting on shows was to give local musicians and the audience a situation to be in that treated them with respect instead of being treated as a product. I was always involved with the local music scene . One night , out drinking with a friend , we decided to throw a party with some friends’ bands just for fun . It was sort of like Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland saying “lets put on a show” in an Andy Hardy movie. The first show went well , so we did another . then another and it just sort of snowballed
NB:Do you know how many shows you’re promoted?
GB: Probably around 2,000.
NB:What was your favorite show to put on? Can you share a memory or two?
GB:Probably a tie between the first time that i had moe. play the Palace and the Phil and Friends show at the Glens Falls Civic Center when Trey Anastasio showed up and sat in for the entire show. the moe. show was exciting for me as they were the first band that I had taken from a small club situation to a big theater show . The Phil show is a given. I first saw the Dead in 1970 and here I was promoting a show with a member of the Dead and a member of Phish on stage. It was an amazing feeling.
NB: How long do you plan to do this?
GB: According to my wife, until I die.
NB: What’s the most difficult aspect of promoting shows around here?
GB:The hardest thing for me is putting on an amazing band to a small crowd. I try to promote bands that I think people should see and I feel like I let some bands down when the turnout sucks. Only do this if you love music. If you do it for money, find something else.
NB: How many concerts do you think you’ve attended and who is your favorite band?
GB:My favorite band has been the Grateful Dead for 47 years . I couldn’t even guess how many shows that I have attended, but it’s a lot.