Behind the Scene: Tipitina’s Talent Buyer Nicolaus Logan
Even from a young age, Nicolaus Logan was interested in not only what was happening at a venue during a show, but also what needed to happen before and after an artist took the stage. “Everyone plays to their strengths and weaknesses in order to make this one thing come together,” says Logan. “I had a bunch of different jobs and realized that booking shows was something I really enjoyed.”
While Logan was a student at Loyola in New Orleans, he landed an internship at the legendary Tipitina’s and, after trying his hand at a variety of jobs, eventually rose to the position of the club’s talent buyer.
In recent months, Logan has started to book a series of shows timed with the 50th anniversary of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, while learning to work alongside the club’s new owners, longtime local favorite Galactic, who have brought a fresh perspective to Tip’s. “They are really involved but, at the same time, they are not trying to disrupt anything that we do over here. There have been times when we said, ‘This is how we should do it,’ where they did not understand what we were trying to accomplish until it played out. And then they’ve looked as us and said, ‘OK, I see what you mean.’”
What was your first job in the live music business, and what led you to that job?
My first job was doing promotions for different bands here in the city, as well as different venues like the House of Blues and Tip’s—everything from web-based promo to street-team work—while I was studying at Loyola from 2006–2010. A few friends and I did the street-team thing together while we were in school and cornered the market. Basically, a majority of the venues around here were rolling with just a handful of us until we all graduated and went our separate ways. Some of those guys are still in the industry, but in different markets like Baltimore and Texas—they all just went home and are doing the same thing in their city.
After you graduated, did you continue your street-team work?
I worked promotions not only for live-music events, but also for a few churches here in the city. They would host touring comedy acts and stuff like that. I also helped with the Mahalia Jackson Theater when it started coming back—after being closed since Katrina—by putting on some of their “Broadway in New Orleans” shows.
While I was a senior in college, I had an internship at Tipitina’s and, eventually, had an opportunity to go back because they had a promotions/box-office job opening. They combined the two jobs because they needed someone in that position who had knowledge of the different venues, and what needed to be done in those realms.
I already knew all the people here when I took the job, but I really learned how much of a family atmosphere it was once I started working here. Everyone sticks together. I also started working a lot closer with some of our talent buyers at the time, and a lot of those guys became my good friends. I respected their role and what they did to facilitate the shows and, following along those lines, I stuck it out until I made my way to being one of the guys that helps book the acts.
Galactic recently purchased Tipitina’s. What has that transition been like?
To use a well-played expression: The difference is night and day. The previous people weren’t so hands on—they were focused on a lot of things besides just Tip’s. But having worked with Galactic since 2010, I can’t even count how many shows we’d already done with the band and their other projects before they took over. So, before the purchase, we were on a first-name basis with Galactic and already had a familial relationship.
It’s the absolute best possible situation that anyone could have imagined. It’s a bit funny working with them because, as musicians, they are from the other side of the fence, so some of the things that we might see as high in the sky requests, they can turn around say, “No, it’s possible; it’s happened here.” Everybody has expectations of the partnership, but we come to it with different outlooks, which is great.
How does New Orleans’ musical history influence your job at the club?
The history here is a bit unique—we are a smaller market with big-market aspirations. Some bands tend to skip New Orleans because the market can be finicky. There are acts that you would expect to be on fire [in terms of ticket sales] but their shows fizzle out for whatever reason, regardless of any promotions we are doing. And you can also have a local act that plays around here every other day but, depending on what day of the week it is, they can still sell out. That’s because there is so much love for the local music scene and local musicians.
Also, even if you have a high-caliber artist, there are multiple options for patrons to choose from each day, and some of those shows are free. Someone who doesn’t want to break the bank can go down to a place like Bourbon Street or Frenchmen Street and just pop in and out of these different clubs and see five or six different genres of music within the span of a couple of hours. So, keeping that in mind, we do lean heavily on our local peers, particularly at Tip’s, because people consider us the neighborhood joint. But at the same time, they’re saying, “Why didn’t you get Bruce Springsteen?” It’s a balancing act of what really fits in our room, what fits the attitude of Tip’s and how we can still remain faithful to our local musicians at the same time.
What was an early lesson that you learned?
An early lesson I learned was to be genuine. If you’re not, then people can see through that facade. You have to be true to what you stand for or what you are trying to do. Otherwise, you will not only disrupt whatever is in front of you, but also there will be a lasting effect.
This article originally appears in the April/May 2019 issue of Relix. For more features, interviews, album reviews and more, subscribe here.