PO Box 19145 • Portland, OR 97280
503 228 3620 • fax 503 228 0480

Andy Gilbert established Pacific Talent Inc. in 1975. Since then, he has guided the company to become the largest talent booking agency in Oregon. He has produced numerous corporate events, conventions, and festivals throughout the northwest for 1,000 to 250,000 persons in attendance.

Andy is experienced and knowledgeable with regards to available talent and industry acquisition procedures, all associated talent production requirements, full event production budgeting and accounting, and media relations.

From The Oregonian

Andy Gilbert has run Pacific Talent for 25 years now, long enough to see some serious ch-ch-ch-changes, as David Bowie once said.

He began the booking agency in 1975 when the Oregon Liquor Control Commission loosened its ban on bands in taverns and clubs. Until then, only holders of a cabaret license (remember the American Museum downtown?) coud have live music.

The rule change ushered in a golden age of live music in Portland, a time when dozens of bands played clubs around town and on the regional circuit

Those clubs were full, too, thanks to a baby boom generation in its 20s and 30s and to liability laws and drunken-driving enforcement that seem unimaginably lax from this vantage point.

The 25th anniversary of Pacific Talent finds Gilbert ensconced in a quiet office with a corner view near the riverfront along Macadam Avenue. A Stickley Mission-style clock on a Sony TV marks the minutes, and a few framed prints -The Beatles, John Lennon - hang on the walls in the reception area.

Outside, clubland is smaller and far more diverse. Rock'n'roll's stangelhold on the dance floor gave way to different genres and subspecies, and the once-common cover band is all but extinct.

The growth of the population between age 20 and 30 likely will swell the ranks of clubgoers once again, but factors such as stricter liability laws and alcohol enforcement, genre-fracture and a range of leisure options that didn't exist 25 years ago pretty much guarantee the club scene will never be like that heady decade of 1975-1985.

Gilbert agrees: He and his bands have largely removed themselves fron the grind of endless club dates in favor of parties, receptions and conventions by and for corporate clients around the region.

As diehard music fans (and former clubgoers) become part of the work force, as employee-conscious companies such as Nike and Intel plan events, as as big corporate-sponsored festivals such as the Bite and the Taste of Beaverton become more common, even planning and the music that goes with it no longer is just another task added to the boss's secretary's list.

For Gilbert and his clients -- talent such as Obo Addy, Tom Grant, Andre Kitaev, the Countrypolitans, Pink Martini, Lloyd Jones, the Woody Hite Big Band and three dozen more -- the boardroom has supplanted the barroom.

Q: How'd you get into the business?

A: I graduated from Portland State University with degrees in business and music and, because I'd played in bands all the way through college, I thought I might like to get into booking, because I wanted to be in the music industry but not in a band. I got a job at an agency called Headwater, and in two months, they named me president -- which meant I was juggling creditors and paying the rent and the phone bill by the week. That lasted six months, but the business felt right.

Q: You started Pacific Talent after that?

A: In 1975, I started out with a roster that included Airborne, Brown Sugar, Lightship, Sand, Wesak and Salem Mass.

Q: Describe the time after the OLCC license change?

A: It was an amazing time -- by the '80's it was a huge scene. I'd go into places like the Silver Moon and tell owners that they could make some extra money with a stage and live music, and a lot of venues were getting created that way. At one time I had 10 clubs that were hiring two bands a night . But now it's so fragmented, you have jazz, blues, rock, dance music, acoustic music and recorded music rooms. Radio, too: back then we had KGON, KINK and KGW -- now there's '50s stations, '60s stations, '70s stations, '80s stations, modern rock and alternative stations. Which may be why there's no more top-40 cover band, because there's no more top-40 radio.

Q: When did your focus start to change?

A: We started to retool into corporate events at about the same time as the emergence of professional event planning, about the mid-'80s, when liquor liability laws began to tighten and the club scene went into a slump from which is still hasn't fully recovered. 1978-1982 was the heyday of the Portland club scene. Also, back in the '70s, music festivals were apt to be smaller and not comprehensively planned -- nothing like today, with its major corporate sponsorship. I think we began to figure that there was a way to access this corporate scene and provide a service.

Q: It sounds like you do more than just book the bands?

A: Event planning is kind of like having the bird's-eye view and figuring how to fit the pieces together with the least short circuits. Someone may say that they want a Caribbean band for their event, but they really want a dance band and that's not a dance band, it's more for ambience, more of a show band, so you help steer them in the right direction to get the music they want for their event. That's changing as event planners are becoming more professional -- hiring the band used to be something that the boss or his secretary did.

Q: So what do the bands think about these gigs?

A: They love to work them. These are quality jobs in good rooms, and the companies don't argue too much about the money. As for the bands, they're not working in some sweaty, smoke-filled bar for five hours straight.

Q: Is there a downside?

A: Money has become much more the center of everything in this business and in our culture -- money equals power these days. When I started out, I was working for $50 a week and the love of the music, but that doesn't happen much anymore. The major record labels are nothing more than big banks, and the emphasis is on making money right away. There's no more time or incentive to develop a band over several albums, which means there's a lot of unsung talent out there that won't get a shot, unfortunately.

Q: So what would you recommend to a young band wanting to get on your roster?

A: First off, send me your promo pack and demo disc in March, when I'm looking for opening bands for The Bite and other summer festivals. Also, since it's hard to get club gigs these days and build a following, align yourself with a nonprofit -- work with OMSI or other groups in benefit shows. You've got to look at different venues these days.

Dance Bands
A Cappella
5 Guys Named Moe
The Beatniks
Special Attractions
Hit Explosion
Hit Machine
The Radical Revolution
The Retros
Stone In Love
Jazz & World Music
Swingline Cubs
PO Box 19145   •   Portland, OR 97280   •   503 228 3620   •   fax 503 228 0480   •  andy@pacifictalent.com

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