Grady Holdridge has been involved with Reno’s music scene for a decade. In 2008, he auditioned to be a part of a cover band called Deep Water Suite. Ten years later, he’s still a band leader, but his time promoting shows and connecting with venues lead him to create something new.
“There’s some amazing music in Reno,” Holdridge said. “But the biggest selling point for Reno is it’s a hub. It’s a centralized location for artists coming and going. What it’s missing is professionalism.”
Holdridge’s goal is to help tame the dysfunction of Reno’s music scene by bridging connections between musicians, venues and promoters. He created The Music Mothership, a subscription-based services, to connect those people to a family of vendors.
“With musicians, venues and promoters, it’s a dog-eat-dog Wild West show,” Holdridge said. “We are trying to clean it up and create some uniformity. A system people can plug into to get from point A to point B.”
The Music Mothership’s name is a metaphor for its goal.
“We are creating a space for everyone to refuel, get supplies and strategize,” Holdridge said. “Whatever you need as an individual or a team to go out and accomplish your mission is here.”
Mothership vendors include retail establishments, instructors, instrument repair, graphic art and printing, street-team services, website design and SEO strategies, audio recording and space for future needs to be filled.
Big Bongo Productions is one of the vendors that subscribers can use. It will be offered as a booking service to connect local bands to local venues.
Artists will be able to join for free until the end of 2018. Starting January 2019, they launch network and services at $9.95 per month, which will ramp up to about $20 per month by 2020. Venues can pay about $20 per month to have access to the database of musicians and artists to contact. Booking services are a separate price point, but in general they’re trying to keep the venues paying somewhere between $100-$200 per month. Lastly, promoters will be brought in by 2020 when they’ve built the database of musicians.
“We want to raise the production value up,” Holdridge said. “So younger bands become more qualified for larger shows.”
The Music Mothership is throwing a launch party and concert this Friday at the Robert Z. Hawkins Amphitheater. Headlining are Reno’s Jelly Bread and Holdridge’s band Seedless 10DenC.
I think the mentoring aspect of the music business is a great idea, giving younger, aspiring musicians guidance on what it takes.”
“I use them as a template for success,” Holdridge said. “We’ve always been a couple years behind them and we’re super excited to combine
forces to provide entertainment for our community.”
Dave Berry, Jelly Bread’s guitarist and vocalist, said it’s great to be a part of The Music Mothership launch.
“It sounds like a great way to bolster our music community,” Berry said. “I think the mentoring aspect of the music business is a great idea, giving younger, aspiring musicians guidance on what it takes.”
He went on to describe the importance of the booking side of being a musician. The job is more than simply having skill or writing catchy songs. He said The Music Mothership’s opportunity to teach business and recording is important, especially considering the cuts to local music in schools.
“As a local band that’s been around awhile, I think some of the best music is coming out right now,” Berry said. “I mean really high quality bands and music. What we need is more local support and a couple quality midsize venues. Seems like we go straight from bars/small clubs to 1,000-plus person venues.”
Holdridge wants to raise the bar for local music scene while listening to concerns and addressing them. He wants The Music Mothership to provide a more consistent system for younger people to “come up through the ranks” and learn.
During the past decade, Holdridge picked a local charity or foundation to benefit from larger shows he’s booked or played. He’s gathered funds for food banks and the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The Music Mothership Launch is benefiting Moms on the Run. A portion of ticket sales will go to the nonprofit to further their pursuit of providing financial assistance to local breast cancer patients undergoing treatment in the Reno community.
“They helped one of my personal friends who’s now in her second bout of chemotherapy,” Holdridge said. “They stepped in and paid her housing and bills for about a six-month period of time. When I found out about that, it was a no-brainer.”
Holdridge shares his love of giving back and spreading information to better his community on and offstage.
— Tony Contini
Editor’s note: Friday’s event will take place from 4 to 10 p.m., featuring craft beverages and food trucks. Tickets range from $15 to $55. The cheaper tickets land you in a grassy area for folding chairs and blankets, while the pricier VIP tickets place you and about 40 others in the running for an Amazon gift card.