Big Bad Voodoo Daddy concert was a harbinger of more live music from nonprofit/for-profit partnership in Carson City

by Roger Moellendorf and Brian Bahouth

Attendees at the Big Bad Voodoo Daddy concert held in the Casino Fandango ballroom on December 4, 2018 - image - Roger Moellendorf.

Carson City – Earlier in December on a snowy Tuesday night in Carson City, the band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy band rocked an enthusiastic audience of 450 people in Casino Fandango’s new grand ballroom and conference center.  The concert was the result of a partnership between the nonprofit Brewery Arts Center (BAC) and the Casino Fandango and Convention Center in Carson City, and organizers are planning another show in March of 2019.

Hear an interview with Roger Moellendorf and the executive director of the Brewery Arts Center Gina Lopez Hill …

Hear an interview with with Roger Moellendorf and general manager of the Casino Fandango Court Cardinal …

The Brewery Arts Center is one of the largest arts organizations in Nevada with a campus that consumes two city blocks in Carson City.  As an organization, the BAC is an inveterate and well informed presenter of live music, and recently won a fourth $25,000 grant from the Mortimer and Mimi Levitt Foundation for another series of summer concerts on their outdoor Minnesota Street stage in 2019.

“As much as we want to bring people to our campus and have all the events here, in the winter-time it’s not always available because our biggest theater seats about 250 people and no dance floor, so bringing in an act like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy … we’ve had them here before, and when they wanted to come back for this Christmas show, I would love to work with them was my original thought, but I don’t have a place for them because you need a big theater … they’re gonna pack the house … and you need a dance floor,” said BAC Executive Director Gina Lopez Hill.

The partnership began with smaller partnerships.  The BAC loaned the Fandango chairs when they needed them, and the Fandango would loan the BAC something they needed for an event, so when Gina Lopez Hill thought about a suitable venue for Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, she remembered that the Casino Fandango opened a new ballroom and convention center in early November of this year with a venue suited for as many as 500 guests, so she contacted Casino Fandango General Manager Court Cardinal.

“I asked Court to buy me lunch because I had an idea I wanted to bounce off of him,” Lopez Hill said.  “He immediately jumped on it and said right away ‘yes let’s do it.’” Hill said.  “And he was anxious to do something big.  He’s a very forward thinking business owner for the community and he’s willing to take risks.  He’s willing to do something big and crazy as I am.  Do it … a Tuesday night concert in Carson City in December with a $75.00 ticket price.

“Everybody told us when we did this, ‘Oh nobody is going to buy a $75.00 ticket.’  Well you know, they did,” Hill smiled.  The concert sold 450 tickets out of 500 tickets.  “The musical taste and the people who are here have a much more sophisticated taste than most people would think.  They are willing to pay money for great music, and that’s what we’re talking about,” Hill said.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy performing at the Casino Fandango ballroom in Carson City, Nevada on December 4, 2018 – image – Roger Moellendorf.

Following the success of the Big Bad Voodoo Daddy concert, Gina Hill said she realized that the Casino Fandango ballroom is ideal for high profile bands, a unique venue in Carson City.

“With the ballroom, any seat in the house is like a private party with the band because it’s so intimate, and that’s what is really cool about this space is it can feel like a house party with one of the greatest bands ever, so there’s a lot of potential there,” Hill said.

The Fandango Casino and the BAC can do together what they could not accomplish separately.  The BAC has long been host to ongoing  musical and theatrical events, so the arts organization is accustomed and adept at the logistics of selling tickets and staffing shows, so for the Big Bad Voodoo Daddy concert, all ticket sales were processed through the BAC.  A combination of Casino Fandango and BAC staff worked the show, and of course the Casino Fandango provided the venue and amenities.

Court Cardinal is general manager of Casino Fandango in Carson City and says the ballroom can hold 320 people for a sit-down dinner and 500 for events.

“We have a large marketing data-base and we can reach out in our unique ways from a marketing standpoint,  and Brewery Arts has the same thing on their end, so we’re able to reach a lot of people and cover a lot of ground as organizations and make it a mutually beneficial event,” Cardinal said.

Both Court Cardinal and Gina Lopez Hill say they are working to arrange a concert in March with the Glenn Miller Orchestra.  There are no other formal plans for the future, but Gina Hill said a quarterly concert series is possible.  For more from both Gina Lopez Hill and Court Cardinal, listen to the embedded audio interviews above …