The first signee? Melodic folkies Deep River, the band of Luke Brindley—whose brothers Daniel and Jonathan own Jammin’ Java. The band will celebrate its new album, Ten Mornings, at a pair of release shows at the venue on Nov. 12 and 13.
I asked Daniel—the Brindley brother primarily responsible for running the record label—about his ambitions. “Here’s the deal: We’ve done a lot to support local talent over the years,” he said. “I manage Deep River and a handful of others…I own the club, I book the shows, and I’ve spent the last few years supporting local talent—it was a natural extension of all that, especially these days when the mainstream label thing is kind of messy.”
He doesn’t expect the label to make money out of the gate: “Since we own a venue, we’re in a nice place, we don’t have that heavy pressure. We don’t need their money,” he says. “We want to help them build a career and take it from there.” Seth Hurwitz, a co-owner of the 9:30 Club, told me something similar in September: At least for now, he essentially sees his 9:30 Records as a loss-leader for the career of its sole act, Justin Jones.
For now, Go Team! will focus on online distribution and selling CDs at shows, and will rely on volunteers to help with publicity. But eventually Daniel would like to hire some staff, sign more acts, and position Go Team! as a label the way he’s positioned Jammin’ Java as a venue: as an enviable spot for up-and-comers.
One thing he’d like to avoid? The impersonal character of major labels. One of the artists he represents through his management operation—also called Go Team!—is Chelsea Lee, who is signed to Atlantic. So he’s seen how majors operate. “I want [Go Team!] to be super artist-friendly, so this is an experiment,” he said. A permanent model will come later.
But what about The Go! Team, the English band with which Daniel’s label and management company sorta share a name? Since he’s selling music and not making it, Daniel’s not worried about receiving any cease-and-desist orders. “I’m not a band,” he says.
Local Venue Label Watch!: Jammin’ Java Launches Go Team! Records was originally published by Washington City Paper on Nov 3, 2010