music morsels fiorenza March 2007

INDUSTRY PROFILE - KVA Artist Management president SCOTT VARESE
by Mark E. Waterbury

Scott Varese's father was an immigrant from Sicily and if there was one quality he endeavored to pass onto his son, it was his work ethic. "Although my father was never a musician, he was the best frontman I ever saw," Scott recalls. "He literally started with nothing, but he worked hard on the railroad and then bought a liquor store, and it all worked out for him." Born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, Scott developed an early passion for music. Starting with playing percussion and bass guitar, he graduated high school early and at the age of seventeen hit the road with the bands Yankee Coalition and Bluegrass Caravan, primarily touring Canada. The young Scott soon made a quick study of not just the musical facets of playing in the bands, but the business duties as well. "I learned an awful lot in a couple years, because I was the young pup, the kid in the group. I started looking into learning the business side because I had learned all the wrong things to do with people I had worked with in the past. I figured that there was a right way to do things and then I tried to do it that way."

Scott started by becoming a defacto road manager for Bluegrass Caravan, learning as he went to handle all the logistical concerns of the band's tours. "I learned things as I went and I thank my father for it because he instilled in me how to talk to people, and generally how to run a business the right way." Following that baptism, he joined the country/showband Cumberland Gap, where along with the bass, he also played acoustic flattop, and dabbled with the fiddle and banjo. Including a stint opening for Hoyt Axton, the band traveled the world in the late 70's and early 80's. After getting off the road with Bluegrass Caravan in 1981, Scott who is a self confessed ski bum landed in Idaho Falls, where he decided to try on a different hat; booking the local watering hole Stockton Bar. He later moved on to the venerable Jackson, Wyoming venue the Mangy Moose. "I figured out how to do it because of my experiences booking my previous bands, as well as some mentoring from a friend named Rodney Bates who is a genius. I was there mainly because I was a ski bum, but it helped me learn another facet of the business that it turned out I really loved."

The years progressed, and Scott played in several different bands, while working in various capacities with them as booking agent, manager, and road manager as well as stints working in his dad's liquor store. As the twentieth century came to a close, Scott who had since moved back to Wisconsin, felt it was time to seriously pursue a full time endeavor in the business side of music. After a short stint at Blue Velvet Records in the Madison suburb of Waunakee, he started a company with a name that he found out later through a brusque "cease and desist" letter was already taken. So he changed the name to KVA Artist Management, named after one of his more recent bands, Kirby Vax and the Attachments. "I started this management company because my son Dane had a band, and he came to me saying that things were working pretty good for him so he asked me if I would take on the project. Having a nineteen year old son ask you if you can help him makes you drop everything and do it." Scott threw himself head first into all facets of managing the Dane Varese Band including traveling with them as their road manager. He began working with other bands such as the Mark David Group and the Naives. "People contact me on myspace, and I love to find these new guys who are great musicians and songwriters. Sometimes it is hard to bring bands from outside of Madison here because the market can be pretty tight. At any rate, I am pretty much a one man show and a hands-on manager with my bands. I book shows, send out press kits, I do everything to help them out. When you are managing a band, that kind of work is an absolute necessity."

In early 2007, Scott ran into a friend named Patrick Emmit in a local bar. Patrick had just taken over as general manager of one of Madison's longest running music clubs, the Annex. "When he offered me the chance to book the Annex, I was like, you're kidding! I would love to do that! I had already found out that I love booking clubs. We are changing things by doing a lot more contacting people and doing a bit more diverse styles of music here." Scott is working on a couple big shows in the future, and the Annex has American Idol fave Chris Daughtry coming in for a show soon as well.

With his work in KVA helping fledgeling bands get a lift with their careers, and helping to breath new life into a local venue that was needing a boost, Scott at this point in his career cannot imagine doing anything differently with his life. "What I really love the most is to see all the new talent, and for that matter, a lot of the old talent out there. I love to see all these presskits come through and see what people are doing. I get to meet a lot of new and a lot of neat people. This is all a dream come true for me."


Scott Varese's advice for musicians - "A good presskit is a must. If you have the money to do an electronic press kit, then I think having both of them is good. You also have to show that you can draw. Show me that you can do a big myspace demand to help your draw. Send out emails before a show to all your friends who are within a fifty mile radius of the show to get them to come out. Be serious about it. This is business. Promote yourself any way you can and do anything it takes to get your name out to people."
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