Exploring Entertainment in Florida's 850 & Beyond
The Panama City area is home to every type of music imaginable. The often unsung heroes are the ones that making everything happen behind the scenes: the venues that support original music, the people that try their best to make as many shows as they can and spread the word, and the booking companies that put it all together.
One of those booking groups is That Sweet Booking. They book just about every genre and give new local bands an opportunity to step on stage along side touring artists.
Brothers Stephen and Matthew Washburn answered some of my questions via email about how it all came to be, what the future holds, and much more.
When did the idea of putting together a booking company first come about?
Stephen: Well, ever since eight grade I’ve always wanted to put on shows. There was a band called Sincerely September (later known as Abandon Your Legacy) that I was going to book at the Mary Ross Waterfront Park, but that fell through for some reason or another. Anyway, to try to make a long story short, I’ve always had an intense passion for music since I was very little and I’ve always dreamed of doing so many things with music in my life. Booking shows seemed like a great place to start, so I joined the booking team at an old PC venue known as Beck’s Underground, and then started my own promotion group known as That Sweet Booking with my older brother about a year or so after Beck’s closed, when my brother moved down here from Georgia.
Matthew: I saw Steve doing booking back in Panama city, and since the scene in Brunswick was pretty bare I decided to try my hand at booking there. I knew nothing about it, but luckily Jake O’Neal (Bearshark) and Jet Turner (Bearshark/Solid Gold Thunder) showed me the ropes. After booking with them at Port City Music Hall for roughly a year, I came up on some money troubles and had to move back to Florida. Before the move I ran the idea of the booking company by Steve and we both agreed it was a good idea, which led to the first That Sweet Booking show, a 15 band going away show for myself.
What has been the most excited you’ve been about a show so far?
Stephen: I could definitely not choose just one show, because there have been so many good ones, and are still more than one great one ahead! I’d have to say, out of the shows that have past, the ones I was most excited to book would have been the Comrades show last weekend, our “PC Survived the End Of the World Fest” this past December, our Halloween show this past October, and the A&M Theatre benefit show (which was also Gator Ghost’s last show) we hosted this past November.
Out of the ones coming up, I have pin it down to these two: Spring Break Bash feat. BABY BABY, Nothing Short Of Pure, Stykz, The Jerry Riddle?, and others at C-Level on March 22nd & Ambush!, Cold Hearted, Reveal Renew, Rejoice the Awakening, Own Up, and more at A&M on the 30th of March.
Matthew: I guess for anyone who’s been keeping up with TSB, it would seem like the obvious answer would be one of the fests we’ve thrown, but for the most part those were just a ton of work and I didn’t really get to enjoy myself. I was really excited about our date with Mountain Man from No Sleep Records, but they had to drop the show last minute. Currently, I’m just super stoked on our Spring Break Bash at C-Level though. I don’t know much of the material from most of the bands, but from what I have listened to it’s just all upbeat and energetic, and getting to party with all of the out-of-towners and locals is just going to be a great time.
Where can people keep up with your upcoming events?
Stephen: You can keep up with our upcoming events on the events tab found on our Facebook page, or under the “Events & Tour Dates” section of our tumblr page, OR you could check out the bulletin board at FYE, the front desk at Journey’s in the Panama City Mall, or the front windows at Leitz Music downtown.
Stephen, you are also in several Panama City bands, please let us know which ones.
Stephen: Common Family, My Brother: The Ocean (which Matthew is also in), A Solid Foundation, The Urban Jeffries, Spokes, Son, F-rum Starchild & the Willem Dafoe Wet Dreams, and Dragon Hawks. I was formerly in In the Rain & Me n Jake, and I’m also in a couple bands with my cousins in Atlanta like dorks and Mr. Toot.
What are your goals for the future of That Sweet Booking?
Matthew: Honestly, I’ve got no clue where I want That Sweet Booking to go. In actuality it’s an offshoot of a larger project we’re working on, That Sweet Basil Records, hopefully we’ll be able to figure out how to effectively run a business, and end up with a building we can use for offices, and maybe as a TSB venue and utilize it to be able to start bringing more notable bands through the area, while still doing what we’re good at, helping out the small timers. The whole thing has been an idea we’ve been juggling back and forth for years now, but we’re starting to get our act together, so we’ll see where it goes.
What would be your dream show that you’d love to put on?
Stephen: We’ve been trying for a little while to make this one happen:
Cosmoscope, Solid Gold Thunder, We Still Dream, The Offer, and Reverie.
Other really cool show ideas we’ve had would include a post-hardcore/experimental hardcore fest possibly featuring Circle Takes the Square, Fero Lux, Frameworks, You’ll Live, and other great bands.
Matthew: On top of the two that Steve mentioned, I try to stick to the philosophy that a show’s a show no matter who’s on it. Sure I enjoy some bands more than others, to the extent I’ll pick up their merch or listen to them at home, but to me a dream show line-up is kinda silly when you can just enjoy the bands you’ve got! Our goal is obviously to pack the house at each show, so really, my dream show is any show we can fill out and let people have a fun time at.