If you've seen a rad live show at Club Congress three years, it's pretty darn likely that booker Matt Baquet had something to do with it. Through his work at Congress and his promotions company JALPH.net, Baquet brought a lot of variety to the historic space, while also booking local bands on almost every show, allowing the diversity in the Tucson music community to shine next to national acts.
Some people may say that the venue doesn't book as much anymore or offer what it used to, but looking at the venue's calendar can pretty much prove that wrong—almost each night has a live show, Tucson's bands are headlining as well as opening and genre-specific dance nights keep crowds coming back for more. It's no doubt that Baquet, along with his bossman David Slutes (who's booked at the venue for 13 years), are the ones keeping the space thriving. The two estimate about 600 booked bands occurred just last year alone with 15 national and 15 local shows every month.
"We had some amazing people work here at Congress, but Matt is an unusual specimen...I have been spoiled for the last three years," Slutes said of Baquet via e-mail. "He's needed very little guidance. His instincts were spot on from the get go."
Unfortunately, though, Baquet is moving.
"Hotel Congress and Tucson, in general, will continue to thrive at an exponential rate...soon the international music community will recognize Tucson as one of the most special creative scenes in the world," Baquet said. "Because it is."
While Baquet plans to continue booking for Club Congress and keeping the venue's momentum going and increasing, his roles as both a local musician (he's the drummer for eccentric local favorite Prom Body) and as a popular DJ in town will no doubt leave a hole in the scene when he moves to L.A.
"The fact that he is a natural leader, well liked and deeply embedded in the scene can't be overstated. He sincerely cares about the Tucson music scene... I know it actually pains him to leave this part of it," Slutes said, later adding, "If anyone can be effective as a remote booking agent, Matt is the guy."
Though Baquet jokes that his primary L.A. to-do will be sitting in traffic, continuing his work promoting Tucson's scene remotely will certainly present unique challenges. On top of that, Baquet seeks to continue drumming for Prom Body, though Tucson will be seeing the band more sparingly. So, what does the future hold for the Vice-featured act fronted by Mike Fay?
"First and foremost, we are going to rock so freaking hard at Che's Lounge this Friday that I will probably cry," he said. "After that, we are going to help Mike release his third album, cram our stinky butts in a rental van and have a blast together cause that's what it's all about."
You can catch Prom Body's last show (for now) at Che's Lounge on Friday, March 25 starting at 10:30 p.m. It's a free show and AZ77 will be opening. It is a 21 and over event.