Voices From The Trenches: Tom Bailey, Capitol Theatre

Tom Bailey is the general manager for the  in Port Chester, N.Y., and has a diverse history in the concert industry. 

How did you get into this business? My friend Jeff Davis was a box office manager in 1988 at Shoreline Amphitheatre (Mountain View, Calif.) run by Bill Graham. He asked if I could help out as a parking cashier one night when they were short-staffed.

I “graduated” from that position to the box office and bartending (at the Fillmore) to working concert tours, to venue management, all at Bill Graham Presents. In 2004, I moved to New York when my girlfriend got a job as an assistant to Clive Davis. I managed at the Knitting Factory, then GM’d the Blue Note Jazz Club for seven years. In 2010, (Bowery Presents’) Jim Glancy introduced me to Peter Shapiro, who wanted to reopen the legendary Capitol Theatre in Port Chester.

What do our readers need to know about the Capitol Theatre?

It’s a piece of history. It’s got the best sound and lights for a venue of its size (2,000 capacity) of any venue I’ve ever been to – and that’s a lot of venues. We do a lot of shows for a theater of this size – 120-plus per year. The wall projections are amazing, too.

What changes do you see for your job and/or the building with AEG’s buyout of Bowery?

I can’t speak for AEG, but (assuming the deal is completed?) I think allowing Bowery Presents to remain autonomous would be the smartest thing they could do. Anthony Makes gets us great shows. We have an ideal working relationship with Bowery and having the clout of AEG behind them can only bring us more opportunities as a venue. We did shows with AEG before the Bowery deal happened, and I like working with them.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions of the industry regarding venue personnel or the venue side of things?

One of my favorite misconceptions is that a sold-out concert means the venue makes a lot of money. We have the best stage crew in the business, but they are not inexpensive. Another misconception I think is that artists/agents should scale a tour the way they want to. In reality, nobody knows the local market better than an established and successful venue does, so I always appreciate it when an agent listens to our advice.

What three concerts at the building stand out to you?

I’ll never forget opening night with Bob Dylan in 2012, although I was so sleep-deprived it’s a bit hazy. The bass was so powerful at the Skrillex show in 2013 that it knocked the bottles off the shelves in my office. And both our runs with Wilco (in 2014 and 2015) stand out because they are a personal favorite and sounded absolutely perfect.

Three shout outs to people in the industry.

Jim Glancy of Bowery Presents; he is a master of his trade. Randy Roffelsen, director of ticketing for Live Nation in San Francisco; he taught me how this business works. And, of course, (Capitol Theatre owner) Peter Shapiro, for proving to me that managing the “vibe” of a venue is a critical (and underrated) skill.

What is the one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?

I’m a certified sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers and I personally select all the wines for the talent backstage. If you liked it, that is.