Mad Piper Entertainment — connecting business to entertainers
When Johnny McCuaig got into the music business, say about 22 years ago with The Johnny McCuaig Band, he figured he was either on top of the world, or would be booking his penthouse suite very soon.
However, years into the game the Nelson native realized there is a lot that goes into a career in music, and if there was someone there to provide a bit of guidance, his career may have taken a different route.
Which is why the gifted musician, who got his start in Grade five at South Nelson Elementary, has joined forces with a few music friends to create Mad Piper Entertainment, a company that not only serves as booking agency but also can provide career building for musicians, hypnotists, magicians and comedians.
“We’re here to try to address needs of musicians, get them work and keeping them working,” McCuaig said recently from Saskatchewan.
McCuaig said if he would have had direction during his younger days, things might have turned out a little different.
“When I left Nelson to start my music career I had nobody to help me learn the ropes of the industry,” McCuaig explained.
“I made a lot of mistakes and I made a lot of headway but there was no organization to help. I was kind of tossed right into the fire which sometimes you can get lucky and sometimes can get burned.”
Mad Piper Entertainment, in the business to connect entertainers with the right people, is a complete system that works from the ground up.
“We help talent with promo, media management, booking and routing, career direction and networking,” McCuaig said.
“Working together we can organize and make sense of the industry and let the entertainer focus on their craft.”
“Performance is only half the job, we take care of the rest,” McCuaig adds.
McCuaig provides bookings for such bands as Susan Aglukark, a seven-time Juno Award winning Aboriginal recording artist, and Cowpuncher, honoured at the recent Western Canada Music Awards.
However, while McCuaig is pleased to have major stars in the stable, he also recognizes the bounty of talent in the Kootenays.
“Having grown up in the area, I’d like to be able to share this experience with people in the industry locally and promote what we have right here in Nelson,” McCuaig explained.
“The music industry has changed dramatically in the past 10-15 years and we have the tools to help a lot of artists in the area.”
One local guitar player McCuaig is high on is James Picton.
“I’ve been playing guitar for more than 30 years, professionally for 25 and have had gigs in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver,” Picton said.
“What I’m hoping for is trying to get back playing again and doing travelling gigs outside Nelson.”
McCuaig, who has played with Picton locally, said the man just needs a few breaks to get back on the music scene.
“James is an amazing guitar player who has been in Nelson a long time,” McCuaig said. “I believe working with James, and giving a little guidance, we can get him to the next level.”
Mad Piper Entertainment, who books acts from Halifax to Hope and Houston, Texas, has more than 40 years of experience in the industry.
“We know the pitfalls and the payoffs of the business,” McCuaig said.
“And we want seasoned entertainers to work smarter, not harder.”