The Handlebar is a destination-location that relies mostly on national and regional touring acts with substantial "marquee value." Our goal is to book bands that come as close as possible to filling our 500-seat venue, while also fulfilling our expectations of musical excellence and professionalism. Since 1994, The Handlebar has presented more than 2,500 concerts and has built strong relationships with many national booking agents.
Fifteen years later and recognized as one of the top music venues in the Southeast, if not the country, The Handlebar each year receives more than 4,000 queries (emails, calls, walk-ins, referrals, unsolicited parcels) from bands, artists and agencies -- to fill fewer than 400 slots (headliner and support). With the explosion of social-networking sites and music/band sites, such as Facebook, SonicBids-EPK, ReverbNation, Jambase, MySpace and so many others, it's even easier for artists, bands and representatives to send mass e-mails to venues. Help us help you. We're a small business, your band is a small business. How can your small business improve ours?
The Handlebar offers national bands a non-smoking medium-sized theater with a professional sound system and house sound technician. The Listening Room is separate from the adjacent bar and restaurant. Our acoustic shows are quiet and intimate. Our rock shows are intimate, too. We've presented everyone from John Mayer and Pat Metheny Trio to Chevelle, Sevendust to Joan Baez, Alter Bridge to Tower of Power, Little River Band and Little Feat to Gillian Welch and Ricky Skaggs to Nickel Creek and Bela Fleck. (Check About Us for a more complete list of performers.) We sell tickets ranging from just $5 to our high (so far) of $35; we don't have a "cover charge" and don't consider ourselves a "nightclub."
We boast a large stage (28' wide by 26' deep), and two dressing rooms with a private restroom. Our capacity is 500, and we can seat 500 people. We can get rid of the chairs for a rock 'n' roll show or arrange the room with a combination of seating and standing room. We offer easy load-in and load-out and convenient bus-and-trailer parking. We're also a great routing venue, within a two-hour drive of Atlanta and Charlotte and a do-able ride from The Birchmere in northern Virginia or Skipper's Smokehouse and the Tampa Theater in Tampa.
Nearly all bands take advantage of and enjoy our in-house menu; we offer other hospitality within reason and within the limits of the show budget. We advance all hospitality and tech requests with road management by phone or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Directions are available here. The Handlebar tries to arrange bookings at least six to eight weeks out. On occasion, we may have some last-minute slots available.
We do not accept unsolicited demo kits and press packets. Why? We lost one, and it was the band's only copy. Truthfully, we get more inquiries than we can handle, and it's not fair to accept your material if we can't give it the attention it deserves.
Unfortunately, many solo and acoustic performers don't have the fan-base in the South to warrant playing a venue as large as The Handlebar. Fortunately, most of the excellent restaurants and bars around town are able to offer excellent entertainment and a way for smaller acts to gain fans.
John Jeter, talent buyer
If you're interested in an opening slot, keep in mind that many national acts bring their own support. However, keep an eye on the calendar page of our website. If you see somebody you want to open for, send an e-mail query to email@example.com. If you know one of the bands booked at The Handlebar, contact the band or their management, and have them bring you along! Don't be discouraged if you get a "no." Unfortunately, there are fewer and fewer opening slots available.