1986 to 1989/One Step Beyond, Oasis
& California Hines Productions
The live concert promotion side of the music business was the only one I had yet to explore, so I was delighted when Stan Kent brought me on board when he opened the San Jose area's largest nightclub, One Step Beyond. Hard as it is to believe, the Punk ethos still hadn't deeply penetrated Silicon Valley. With the transformation of the Keystone Palo Alto into a dance venue called the Vortex, a venue to present the dynamic bands that exploded into being throughout the 80s was desperately needed in Silicon Valley, or what we locally called the South Bay. Stan brought OSB to life in the heart of the tech world, at 1400 Martin Avenue in Santa Clara. Publicity and Promotion were my domain, while Hilary Hanes -drummer from Pearl Harbor and the Explosions - and Stan himself did most of the booking.
Take a look, on the right, at the ad in Pollstar magazine that ran at the end of 1986. His taste was unimpeachable, and I, along with all of the San Jose area, owe Stan -along with writers Rebecca Smith at the weekly Metro and David Plotnikoff at the daily San Jose Mercury, who were tireless music scene supporters -- debts of gratitude that can never be repaid. Stan was ahead of his time, though; the South Bay still hadn't caught up culturally to San Francisco, and OSB struggled.
In the fall of 1987, a wildly successful San Francisco club opened an outpost in San Jose, and the Oasis soon became my home, thanks to General Manager Fil Maresca. Urbane and charming, Fil managed to thread the needle between hip and accessible -"Image Without Attitude" -and we took off at the Oasis where One Step had struggled. New Year's Eve 1987 saw the Oasis packed to a staggering degree. The office at the Oasis was tiny, and on that night, as owner Kevin Murphy, Fil and myself toasted the New Year -and breathtaking success-with champaign, I feared the moment of triumph would turn to chaos as the office door blew open, and a stiff breeze threatened to send 60,000 in cash flying all over the club. I closed the door and looked forward to the New Year as a drunken patron threw up into the art pit, ruining the beautiful theatrical masks on display below.
After Hilary's departure from OSB I had done some booking, and not long after starting at the Oasis I became the venue's Talent Buyer as well as Publicity Director.
It began in San Jose but soon I was handling the San Francisco venue as well. Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson, Devo, Jimmy Cliff, Chris Isaak (many, many times), Paula Abdul, The Call, The Three O' Clock, The Godfathers, and X were among the acts I brought to one or both of the Oasis venues. I continued booking and publicity, taking the venue with me when I became GM of California Hines, a local promotion company, and Ric Hines sealed the deal by bringing in Koala Springs USA to provide sponsorships for the Oasis and other venues we booked. We booked shows at San Jose Municipal Stadium, the San Jose Civic, the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, Stanford Memorial Auditorium, the Montgomery Theatre, and the Morris Dailey Auditorium at San Jose State, among others. Ric was also one of the owners of the newly opened Cactus Club, on First Street in San Jose, and I brought an act or two there, including Graham Parker. But my friend from RCA Records, Jim Cowan, had crossed the street to MCA, as had my cohort from Record Factory, Tracy Terada. That led to an offer I couldn't refuse. After a talk with Branch Manager Jeff Murphy on October 17, 1989 -a day none of us will ever forget, as the Bay Area was struck by a massive earthquake just after 5 p.m. - I went to work for MCA Records Distribution, soon to be known as Uni and then Universal Music. I had escaped, but the record business pulled me back in.