61: Spike Wilner, pianist / jazz club proprietor
Pianist Spike Wilner belongs to the tradition of jazz musicians who also own and operate clubs. In his case it came by accident, or rather, a series of accidents.
Spike owns and operates Smalls and Mezzrow, two of the most vibrant, hip and important clubs on the jazz scene. Along with his partner Mitch Borden, Spike has cultivated and curated a community of musicians and fans whose influence reaches around the world. In 2007 they began live streaming concerts from Smalls, and since then they have built an archive of over 12,000 concerts (35 more are added each week) featuring 2000 musicians.
How does Spike book the club? How does one go about getting a gig at one of the most prestigious clubs in the world? How does success change the dynamic of the club? How does thinking of himself as an archivist affect his job? What is the future of the live jazz business? How does he balance a life of playing music with a life of managing it?
As Spike says, “The scene is alive. It’s like electricity. It’s out there. You just have to know how to capture it.”
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