I wish Orlando had a million Marshal Rones. The man has selflessly given his all to the music scene and remains incredibly humble. For those unaware, Marshal is a booker at Foundations Presents, The Social, and The Beacham. He’s also been essential to the transformation from Barbecue Bar to 64 North, a downtown haven for local music, and created the monthly local music showcase Punk On The Patio. I wanted to give Marshal the spotlight he deserves to talk about how all these projects came to be, his philosophy on local music, and to find out what we can expect in the future. Enjoy.
The Vinyl Warhol: You’ve been at The Social for how long now?
Marshal Rones: I started July 2015 … so like 14, 15 months. Not very long.
TVW: But ever since you’ve been there, your presence been felt in the Orlando music community. Not that it wasn’t before, but like to a whole ‘nother extent because you have so much more at your disposal now.
M: I mean, if it has, that’s awesome.
TVW: Yeah, and that’s why I wanted to talk to you.
M: When I got in there, for me, I was like … I’m going to fuckin’ kick that door in [for local musicians] as much as they’re going to let me. And literally maybe my first week there, I remember one of the owners was talking to Haley talking about 64. And I’m like snapping at her like, “I got it. I got it.” And so, first show they were like, you’ll be lucky to get 20 people in there. And we had two weeks to book and promote it and had a hundred-something people. After that, we had a whole meeting and I remember like … I don’t pull punches, man. I used to go to Barbecue Bar, that was my shit. I met my girlfriend there. You know what I mean? I could tell you a million fucking blackout stories. And so, one of the owners was like, “How do we get barbecue bar people back?” And I’m like, “You can’t, that’s done.”
TVW: So 64 North now, has it kind of pulled that Sly Fox/Will’s Pub crowd?
M: I wouldn’t say that. I told them, you can’t be barbecue bar. It’s never going to work. You’ll fail. Let me make this 64, and let me turn it into a shrine for our local community. Let me rip down the stupid The National shirts and replace them bands that have played here. Plus, you’re going to let me grunge this shit up. It’s too clean. And I mean, I would say there are select shows were some of the Mills people will come. But I told them, “Forget about those people!” Most of those people are my age, dude. I’m 30. Half of these people are married, some of them have kids, some of them don’t go out and drink anymore. I was like, let me have 18+ shows because there’s nowhere else for them to go except I-Bar. There’s no stigma at 64. No one cares. I wanted to make this like you’re playing my fucking basement.
TVW: Is that something that they hired you for, or did you just see the potential and take it on as a passion project?
M: [64 North] just kind of fell into my lap. And again, opportunity, I don’t care. Kicked it open and I did what I wanted to with it. And after [they saw what happened], everyone was like, “Okay, we’re listening.” And so I told them that it was kind of like a farming thing. You can have the locals here. If they’re drawing 500 people, let me put them next door [at The Social]. Plus, what if there’s an amazing band and BackBooth is taken; Will’s is taken. Some of those bands aren’t going to fit in Spacebar. There not going to fit into Lou’s. Our cap at 64 is the same as Will’s. I’m not saying it’s Will’s. But that being said, there’s no reason to limit it to anything. Let me just make it somewhere fun. It’s a Monday. What do you have to lose? There’s nobody there anyways. So they let me run with it. After that started picking up some steam, then the discussions started.
TVW: The let you have the place a little bit?
M: Pretty much. They let me had the freedom I wanted. After a few months, they let me do whatever I wanted. They gave me the freedom to do grind shows there. My big fight initially was trying to have some sort of cover, even if it was a donation. Because I know people want to tour and I’m not going to be like, “Yeah, play for free.” And about a month into the shows over there, we were loading in through The Patio and I’m like, “Bro, I want shows out here. Why aren’t there shows out here?”
TVW: You’d been scheming about that for a while. I remember talking to you about that and you were like, “Oh, we’re going to start doing punk shows out here.” Even before it happened.
M: My bosses used to have shows out there. To me, it’s like, why did that stop? So I had one boss who was all about it. Some were hesitant and had concerns. All things considered, they’ve always been supportive of what I wanted to do, but they’re not always quick to say yes.
TVW: So did the success of 64 persuade them to let you go ahead with Punk On The Patio?
TVW: So how did you convince them?
M: I’m stubborn. I’m very stubborn.
TVW: Did you just keep bringing it up?
M: Again, one of my bosses loved the idea. The others weren’t opposed to it, but the word “punk” brings a connotation of, “Fuck, how much security are they going to need? What is this going to entail?” And so I just kept pushing it along. You know? What’s the holdup? Then they’d come back with this issue and that issue. I’d come back the next day and want to talk about it again. Here’s why I felt that your issue wasn’t warranted, or here’s the solution. And then they’d come back to me with a couple more things.
TVW: How long was this going on?
M: Maybe three months. I have four to five different channels everything has to go through. It’s not that anybody was trying to slow me down. It just prolongs the process. So about four months total and finally we’re A-OK. I got the first one. And um, I got really lucky. Bao [from Orlando Weekly] has been extremely nice to me and supported the things I’ve done, Mitch [from Shows I Go To] same. You’ve posted about stuff. I’ve been very fortunate that people have been down with my idiocracy.
TVW: Yeah, because no else was doing anything like that, especially with the first one. When it was announced, there was a big thing on Orlando Weekly kind of showing it to the world. Immediately, it was different.
M: And that first one I got really lucky that everyone wanted to play it that I got. For me, I had a dream lineup out there with Slumberjack, with Out Go The Lights, with Flashlights, that was huge for me. And after it was done, from [the owner’s] end it really wasn’t a success.
TVW: Really? They didn’t make money?
M: No. Did I make money? No. The bands did good. But again, they look at these things from a million different angles. Part of my fight there — I’m breaking the fourth wall here — I was very vocal that it had to be five dollars. I’m Jewish, okay? That’s a big deal to me. And if it’s a big deal to me, I think it’s going to be a big deal to everyone. So typically I walk with 10 bucks. Is that a shocker? Maybe. But you’ve seen me. I have a blast squirting people with bubbles and shit. Sometimes you got to invest when you’re passionate about something. Money is important, but I’m paid to do my job. This is a passion project. It’s something I do because I love doing it.
TVW: Did you have that mindset when booking shows before working at The Social?
M: Yeah because I love it. That’s the only reason I fell into what I do now. I had a band; we needed a show. How do I get a show? I made some calls. And then you’re helping touring bands. I want to take care of them because if I’m in their city, they’ll take care of me. When shows started on Mondays at 64, I didn’t care what I was getting. I was so stoked to provide another place. I know how I’ve been treated on tour. Our industry is full of great people and awful people. And I like to think I can be one of the good ones. So I made 64 like that. I made it flexible and fun. And that’s what Punk On The Patio has to be. And if it’s not that way, I wouldn’t want to do it. I’m the production manager. I’m the loader. I’m the sound guy. I’m the light guy. I’m the one settling the show. I’m the one booking the show. There is a multitude of people who do those jobs for any normal show. But I’m doing all of it because if I wasn’t doing all of it, it wouldn’t happen.
TVW: Did you do all that stuff before?
M: As much as I do now. Everything that I’ve done music-related has been out of necessity, aside from me initially starting a band. It was like, cool I want shirts. How do I get shirts? Fuck man, our bass player quit. Well fuck, it’s a guitar minus two strings. I’m going to figure it out. Oh my god, our singer can’t sing. I don’t fucking sing, but I’m going to try. The worst thing you can do is not try. All of it has always been, I wanted something. And just because I was told no, doesn’t mean I have to lay down.
TVW: Switching gears a little bit, why change Punk On The Patio from the first Wednesday of the month to the first Tuesday?
M: That wasn’t my choice.
TVW: Why did that happen?
M: Well, now you can go every Wednesday and enjoy a latin EDM night on The Patio. Sometimes when you work for a company, there are things that happen that are beyond your control. I was told — I’m trying to put this as politically correct as I can — I was informed that there was something that would be bringing in more money every Wednesday. And I was like uh, what about Punk On The Patio? And they were like, we don’t want you to stop. You can have another night. So basically if I wanted to continue doing it, that was my option.
TVW: Were you worried?
M: No. Honestly, I think Tuesday could be better. There’s the Emo Night next door. It could be good for both of us. Come see a band or two and stop by I-Bar. Support your downtown scene.
TVW: I’ve noticed that not all bands that play don’t fit the “punk” title. What’s your theory on picking acts outside that label?
M: There’s a Kurt Cobain quote, but it’s sampled in this Page 99 song. I’m going to paraphrase it, but it’s “Punk rock is about freedom. Playing whatever you want, however you want. As long as it’s something that has passion.” Yeah, at its core punk rock is about DIY ethics and doing something you fucking love. I don’t need every band out there to be a punk band.
TVW: What are you going to do for the one-year?
M: I have some stuff I’ve been working on. We’re trying to do something special. I have some people who are on hiatuses that might want to do it. I have some people whose bands are done, who might not be done. Then I have an idea that would just be fun for me. And I don’t really give a fuck if it’s fun for anybody else. Because if it’s fun for me, I promise it’ll be fun for everyone else. I just try to appeal to myself.
TVW: What do you see as the future of POTP?
M: I’m not sure what the future holds. Do I keep it seasonal next year? Do we not do it during the rainy months to be safe? I guess the only thing that’s for sure about Punk On The Patio is that nothing is for sure.