Jill Carletti may have been born to be a concert promoter.
— Jill Carletti may have been born to be a concert promoter.
"It is so bizarre to me," said Carletti, who is the manager of Harmony Presents, a musical promotion company which brings a wide variety of acts to the Silk Mill in Hawley.
The reason it is bizarre, she says, is because she never thought she'd be in the music promotion business.
However, she is a musician and singer as well as an artist. She also understands graphic design, creating web sites and marketing.
That combination, she said, actually works well in the position created for her less than two years ago.
What is Harmony Presents?
"It's a lot of things," says Carletti.
Mainly, she said it is a place "for showcasing emerging artists."
That showcasing takes place in the Boiler Room at the Silk Mill, a grand old building on the west side of Hawley which has been completely restored.
Harmony Presents, said Carletti, started "as an effort by a few individual members who wanted to create a place for something artistic to happen in Hawley."
Carletti said Harmony Presents had a "humble beginning."
That beginning was hosting performances in the Silk Mill, but not in the downstairs area. It was in tight quarters in the main part of the building.
However, that all changed when an investment was made to transform the Boiler Room into a place to have live entertainment.
"We needed an actual performance place," said Carletti. "We knew we wanted to have a better space."
Since that transformation, Carletti has been able to attract a wide variety of performers to the Boiler Room — and the results show.
"I think we are gathering a lot of speed now," said Carletti.
Book 'em, Jill
Of course there could not be top-notch talent coming to Hawley without Carletti finding and booking the talent.
"Connections," says Carletti. "The connections are really happening."
Those connections have come over time and are simply a result of hard work and being persistent.
Carletti says the proximity of this area to New York City does help in finding the talented acts which come to the Silk Mill.
"If they are doing a show in New York, I know the chances are better to get them," she said.
That hard work is now paying off, she said, because attendance has been strong and is getting stronger.
"I am really happy with the recent attendance," said Carletti.
She said there have been "quite a few" shows recently which have been nearly sold out. Over the summer, they had packed houses and even had to turn away a few people during a few shows.
"It has exceeded my expectations," said Carletti.
Carletti has also been able to expand the offerings at the Boiler Room, including catering of dinners as well as serving a few drinks on the patio overlooking the river.
During the warmer months, people have been able to eat dinner on the patio before the show, something she says has been popular.
She said those community partnerships have helped Harmony Presents become successful and she wants to continue along those lines.
"We still need the community support," she said.
But even as cooler weather settles into the area, that isn't going to stop the shows from happening.
In fact, Carletti said they have shows booked through January. They are nearly every Saturday night.
She said they are planning a special show for Thanksgiving.
The band Roosevelt Dime will be coming back to the Silk Mill for a Nov. 23 show.
This was one of the first groups to play in the Boiler Room and, just a few weeks later, was the opening act for The Dave Matthews Band.
She said fans can expect a "funky, groovy" show from this group.
In fact, Carletti says many of the acts they are booking have been opening for bigger acts and some of them are getting air time on NPR and the BBC.
"I would like to see the Boiler Room as a place for emerging artists," she said.
But even with that, Carletti says she has higher aspirations — some day.
"I would like to see a theater," she said.
That way, more people could attend and they could "showcase bigger acts."
But she still sees the Boiler Room as the "incubator" for such a larger venue.
Carletti realizes such a project would require the stars aligning and for many other things to happen, however, she continues to keep those dreams alive and hopes it will eventually become a reality.
But for now, this one-woman show has her hands full running Harmony Presents, though she admits she's having the time of her life.
"I love it," she says.
Part of that love is simply observing the audience, which she said is made up of a diverse group of people.
"We have a significant amount of locals coming back," she said.
She said there are a lot of people coming from the New Jersey area and from all over the area, for that matter.
The variety of acts which are booked by Carletti is something she also enjoys.
"People are dissatisfied with hearing the same songs on the radio," said Carletti.
She also thinks there is a desire by many people to see live performances.
Carletti said the "anticipation" of seeing a live performance is an attraction to many people who, today, live in an era of pushing a button and downloading music to a device.
"There are so many variations," she said of the music performed by the artists in the Boiler Room.
She said even in popular music, there are a lot of crossover performances, from country to classic rock.
She also sees that in the performers who come to Hawley, saying the variety is great. When writing descriptions for some artists, she said it can be difficult because they can mix classic rock with funk and more.
One thing she has tried to do is "mix up" the variety of artists which come to the Silk Mill.
She has also focused, unintentionally, on getting a good amount of female performers.
"I think there are a lot more women artists than there used to be," said Carletti. "For a variety of reasons."
She likened having a variety of performers to a "pallet of colors to play with," and also said having the "female perspective" as part of that pallet is positive.
On the job training
For Carletti, the last year and a half has certainly been a learning experience.
"I have learned a lot," she said.
That learning has been everything from refining their website (which also includes the popular feature of having videos of the artists) to honing her graphic design skills to marketing.
She also points to her improved "scouting skills" as well as event coordination.
Not only does she handle tickets sales, she also runs the sound mixer board for the shows, another skill she has learned since taking on the task of running Harmony Presents.
But even for this self-made promoter, there's nothing like game time.
"My favorite part is show night," said Carletti. "Interacting with the performers and the audience."
So what do the performers, many of whom have played in large venues in big cities, think about the Boiler Room?
"They are very appreciative," said Carletti.
She said all of them have commented on "what a beautiful town" Hawley is and how the Boiler Room is a "cool spot."
In fact, she said one performer from Boston said something Carletti thought she would never hear. That person said "we don't have places like this in Boston."
Though Carletti was shocked to hear such a statement, it also made her proud of what everyone at Harmony Presents has been able to build in less than two years.
You can find much more information by visiting silkmillharmony.com.