Friday, May 25, 2018
Business

Country club manager deals with perils of booking live entertainment

WESLEY CHAPEL — On a recent Friday night, Joe Brooks had to deal with the downside of booking bands for the Quail Hollow Country Club main stage. When a singer on-stage drank too much and spewed profanity at a crowd of nearly 500 diners and dancers on the poolside patio, Brooks jumped into action.

"They can sabotage themselves," Brooks said, "but not our business. Let's just say that they're no longer on our calendar."

Brooks is a youthful 48-year-old whose mastery of social media keeps him on top of the local music scene.

"You wouldn't believe the number of people who approach us," he said. "We do our due diligence by reviewing Youtube, demos and checking references."

He was appointed the country club's entertainment/food and beverage director in 2011 and describes his work as a joy. Over the past year he's overseen the growing popularity of weekend live performances at the 174-acre Wesley Chapel property that includes an 18-hole golf course and is open to the public. He also supervises Karaoke night, Saturday weddings and Sunday brunches.

"These days our demographic wants to get away from country toward Top 40 cover bands," Brooks said. "Our goal is to mix up musical styles and to get the ladies out here."

Contract negotiations with bands include scheduling, access, promotion and production needs for groups of no less than four pieces. The sound is designed to cover the 50,000-square-foot venue.

The club's lineup includes monthly appearances by local rockers Troy Duncan Band, Wild Ginger and Woody and the Nutcrackers, scheduled throughout October. Lester Freeman and the D Band make their Quail Hollow debut Oct. 25 with their veteran sweet soul sounds.

Other attractions include the Greg Billings Band and Main Stream, a nine-piece band whose lead singer, Christine Papp is a former high school assistant principal.

"Greg Billings is a fun show band, and Main Stream has quite a following among Christine's former students," Brooks said.

But the biggest crowds roll in for quarterly Sunday Biker Bashes. The Labor Day biker bash drew 2,000 guests.

"We're known to be biker friendly," Brooks said, "and we advertise in Born To Ride magazine."

Last Sept. 7, 500 Pasco County choppers participated in the 9-11 gratitude charity ride that delivered commemorative plaques to three firehouses and ended at Quail Hollow.

"We've never cancelled a Friday party due to weather," Brooks said. "We look at the radar and are prepared to move the amps indoors. Or we might go acoustic until the rain subsides."

General manager Marisa Starling arrived from Houston three months ago and is focused on developing a steakhouse menu and improved staff services. The 34-year-old is a marketing graduate of Michigan State with hospitality experience from the Don Cesar Resort and Hard Rock Cafe.

"Joe and I coordinate on the entertainment side," Starling said. "Our aim is to appeal to the widest variety of musical and dining tastes."

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