Ramona Mainstage: hard rock and country, yes. Rap, no.
  • Ramona Mainstage: hard rock and country, yes. Rap, no.
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Ramona Mainstage owner Orrin Day has bitten the bullet and says he has agreed to pay some $3000 annually to music licensing groups he has called “scum suckers” in the past. “You can’t get away from it. You have to pay the bastards even if you only do a couple of [music] shows a month.”

The upshot is that after a year without big shows, the Ramona Mainstage is bringing back major name concerts. Prior to that, the Mainstage had hosted major music acts for six years. Day he says he will not focus solely on the metal and hard rock acts that seemed to have put the back country venue on the map.

“We’re going to mix it up,” says Day, who fully expects to bring back pop singer Eddie Money, country swingers Asleep at the Wheel, and country maverick David Allan Coe, all headliners who have previously sold out Ramona Mainstage.

“On his last tour, David Allan Coe skipped Southern California altogether,” says Day. “He loves it here.”

Another artist who seems much more at home in Ramona than, say, North Park, is right wing rocker Ted Nugent.

“The last time Ted played here, he flew his Citation Jet here and took a limo to the Mainstage. That was the day his wife was caught with a handgun in her handbag trying to board a plane in Dulles [Washington D.C.] to come here. It made national news that she was coming to join her husband in Ramona [with a gun]… It’s pretty conservative up here. But then, so is San Diego. At least in comparison to the rest of this fucked up state.”

There is one genre of music Day won’t host at the Mainstage. “Rap is not a thing that would work up here.”

Day says he knows it has gotten harder to attract big name headliners. “The Belly Up now books 25 shows a month at the Music Box, on top of what they put in the Belly Up. They are taking an awful lot of shows. But I feel there’s enough for everybody.”

And then there is the proliferation of casino talent buyers who famously give huge guarantees to headliners at the expense of independents. “It’s like they don’t treat [contracts] as money. If a band is worth $10,000, they’ll pay $15,000 or $20,000.”

Courtesy https://ramonamainstage.com

Courtesy https://ramonamainstage.com

But Day says his ace is in the hole is the acoustics of his room. “This is an old movie theater built for sound. It has a vaulted ceiling and a sloped floor. Once bands play here, they love this place.”

But will greater San Diego make the trek? “I built [an adjacent] steak house and a BBQ restaurant... I just finished my third remodel. The concession area next to the stage was turned into a bar…The Mainstage will be all ages and we will serve liquor. Ramona is now a destination. It’s no longer just a place you drive through on the way to Julian.”

Day says he will soon announce his concert calendar. He says local bands will be welcome only as openers for headliners and may be better off playing Ramona pubs like Cheers and the Waypoint Saloon (which was renamed from Molly Malone’s after a 2015 episode of Bar Rescue).

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dwbat July 12, 2018 @ 11:34 a.m.

RE: " music licensing groups he has called “scum suckers” I assume Orrin Day is talking about the Performing Rights Organizations ASCAP/BMI, which are legitimate agencies that protect the property of songwriters and publishers. They are NOT "bastards" for collecting those fees. Wouldn't Day be upset if people sneaked into his club, and didn't pay to see the shows? And doesn't he understand that Eddie Money, Asleep at the Wheel, etc. are members of ASCAP or BMI? --from a (lowly-paid) member of ASCAP


Ken Leighton July 12, 2018 @ 3:16 p.m.

dwbat- It's good that you engage in this argument admitting you don't really have any skin in the game. I would guess you have written no hit records and are receiving no royalty checks from ASCAP, BMI or SESAC for your songs. While Mr. Day's approach is maybe rough around the edges, he makes a very good point. There are no limits to how many of these agencies there are or how much they can charge. ASCAP admitted to me they do in fact charge whatever they want. Mega manager Irving Azoff knows this is a government sanctioned license to print money, so he just launched his own licensing company called Global Music Rights. There is nothing to prevent other music moguls or anyone else from launching more BMI's or ASCAPs and they can all collect whatever they want. I know for a fact through personal experience that ASCAP will come to you and say, for instance, you owe $1,500 a year as a venue. I would say I'm not paying because I'm a venue hosting original musicians. They would come back and say, "OK, how about $800 because you have a jukebox (which was already covered by the jukebox company).' Payments to these people is completely negotiable. Like buying a pinata in TJ. Of course there needs to be something there collecting royalties, looking out for songwriters. God knows Jack Tempchin who I have known for 30-plus years loves his ASCAP checks. And of course he deserves them. The law that set up these agencies did nothing to try to make them fair or say how many there can be. If ASCAP comes after you, so does BMI, SESAC and now Azoff's GMR. And they can all charge whatever they want. You are arguing about the concept of these groups which is hard to argue. Their untethered, free for all, pay-me-or-we'll-sue behavior has really gotten out of hand.


dwbat July 12, 2018 @ 5:10 p.m.

Yes, I'm still waiting for that hit song. I don't go to concerts/clubs anymore, but ticket prices have also "really gotten out of hand." Ramona Mainstage can charge whatever the market will allow. That's all legal, too. The whole music business is a ginormous money-grubbing enterprise. That's the reality. You can't just gang up on the PROs, and say everyone else in the music biz is as pure as the driven snow. Everyone grabs as much as they can: the PROs, bands, session players, producers, managers, agents and publishers. There are no saints in that group that I've heard of.


Anarchy_Now July 20, 2018 @ 11:04 a.m.

Pretty obvious; Mr. Day simply doesn't like fulfilling his financial obligations or honoring contracts.


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