YOUR NAME HERE: 9:30 Club owner Seth Hurwitz wants to take on national promoter Live Nation for the rights to develop a music club in the old J.C. Penney building in Downtown Silver Spring.
Let's say you're Ike Leggett, and you're trying to get this music hall built in Silver Spring. You've made your demands clear and found a potential suitor; you've held a swanky press conference to announce the wedding; and you've even sparked the ire of a few neighbors who, like any meddlesome relatives, are nitpicky about the new beau.
It appears everything's in place, but someone has to crash the wedding. Enter Seth Hurwitz, owner of It's My Party Productions and operator of the venerable 9:30 Club. A Bethesda resident, he's more than irritated that MoCo would spurn him for Live Nation, an international concert promoter, to run the proposed music hall in Downtown Silver Spring. He even sent Ike Leggett and the County Council a letter (read a recap at the Scene; check out the actual thing at the Singular) asking him to reconsider:
"We believe your reputation as a fair-minded decision maker entrusted with carefully spending taxpayer dollars suggests you would want to be apprised of an industry-leading, locally based company that shares your goals of making that property a luminous destination for music lovers, a magnet for other businesses, and the pride of Montgomery County . . . Simply put, I.M.P. can provide a superior music venue at a dramatically reduced cost to the taxpayer."
so much more AFTER THE JUMP . . .
Not-quite-Christian, not-quite-punk band Anberlin plays at the 9:30 Club, owned by Seth Hurwitz, last spring. (They will be returning tonight with Motion City Soundtrack and Mae, and yours truly is attending.)
Hurwitz' deal (which is more carefully examined at the Scene) gives the County a 1,400-seat venue featuring "national acts specifically selected for the Montgomery County audience" for a subsidy of $6 million, compared to Live Nation's current arrangement of $8 million. In addition, Hurwitz would pay $15,000 a month in rent to the County for the site, twice as much offered by Live Nation.
Local residents frustrated by the idea of taxpayer dollars going to a multi-national corporation would be tickled pink by a local business trying as hard as possible not to screw MoCo over. But, of course, Leggett and the County made their decision, and there's no going back.
Leggett's response was terse, and bold fonts were used liberally:
" . . . Montgomery County has negotiated a Letter of Intent with Live Nation and will not negotiate with other parties. Montgomery County has an obligation under the law to negotiate in good faith and we intend to follow the letter and the spirit of this agreement."
As the traditional wedding rites go, "Speak now or forever hold your peace." Hurwitz' chance to throw his hat into the Silver Spring music hall ring would have been after the Birchmere plans fell through last July. That is if the County had put a Request For Proposals out - and they didn't. It was, after all, only a couple of days before rumors of the Fillmore's entree into the scene surfaced.
Theoretically, a local music scene is composed of, well, local music. And you can't get more local than Seth Hurwitz and I.M.P. Productions. (Of course, there are a slew of promoters and even smaller clubs in the D.C. area, but none that could seemingly throw money around the way Hurwitz can.) Montgomery County's already made the vows; Hurwitz may have proved his ability to put on a good show, but the burden's on him to prove to MoCo that it's worth leaving Live Nation at the altar.
On the other hand, residents are already wary of Live Nation. Perhaps the burden is on Montgomery County to prove to taxpayers that they're not getting shafted.