I'm gonna try something a little bit different this month. Rather than give you a bunch of punk music sites to check out, I'm gonna show you how you can use the net to help you book a tour for your band, or just to travel around and meet punks in other cities and states. I'll probably mention some websites I've already told you about in the last year, but consider this your quick and easy reference guide to getting you on the road.
The other thing that I should mention is that not all of the sites I am going to tell you about are put together by punks or have punk themes. Big deal. Your toothpaste isn't punk (unless of course, you don't use toothpaste) and neither is your gas station (unless you don't have gas?). I'm just giving you some tools to make things easier. Also, I strongly suggest you use other materials besides these if you are trying to book a tour for your band because there just isn't enough information on the net yet to make it feasible.
The first thing to do, after you have decided where you're gonna go (based on how many days you have to tour, and how many miles you think your van can make it before it blows up) is to compile the phone numbers and names of people who put on shows in the towns you want to play in. Grab a copy of Book Your Own Fuckin' Life and some of the major zines around, and start looking for names of clubs, phone numbers, contact names, etc. In addition, try out these booking databases on the web: Underdog Records has a listing at http://homepage.interaccess.com/~udogrec/udogbooking.html, as does Intrrr Nrrd at http://www.nervecore.com/e-zine/directory.html. There's also the Deterrent DIY tour guide at http://www.islandnet.com/~moron/deterrent/tour_gd.html .
There are also show listings from various cities on the net, which you can often get via e-mail or at different web sites. These list upcoming punk (and other) shows, and sometimes even include phone numbers for the clubs in various cities. The most famous of these is probably The List, which covers the SF bay area. You can find a copy of The List on the web at http://corp.excite.com/people/graham/the-list . Philadelphia also has a list of the same sort, at http://thunder.temple.edu/~amartini/punk.html . Dan Halligan of 10 Things fanzine has put one together for the pacific northwest, which is at http://weber.u.washington.edu/~ten/shows.html . There are tons of other cities with the same sort of listings on the net -- you just have to look around until you find them.
Another resource for finding shows is hooking up with other punks that you meet on the net. Some of the best places to meet people are on usenet newsgroups such as alt.punk or alt.music.hardcore or on the irc channel #punk. If you spend much time using these, you'll get to know some of the regulars, and they might be able to help you find shows in their respective cities, or at least tell you what clubs are cool, and what clubs to avoid. You can also try asking folks on the punk-list about the clubs in their towns (for information on subscribing to the punk list, see my very first MRR column from February, which is at my web site at http://www.primenet.com/~hanford/mrrfeb96.html).
The other nice aspect of hooking up with folks on the net is that when you are in their city, you can check your e-mail on your home account by either telnetting into your account, or setting up a mail program to check the mail on your mail server (note: learning how to do these things is beyond the scope of this column, and don't e-mail me and ask me how, cuz it's too much of a pain in the ass to try to explain). If you have America Online you can access your account from just about anywhere in the world (and given their new pricing scheme - unlimited hours for 20 bucks, that's almost enough to make me recommend them, but they still cooperate too readily with the FBI and other authorities for my taste). Checking your e-mail while on the road is almost a necessity if you've booked shows through the net, because oftentimes promoters will attempt to get you a message this way.
Okay, so now you have a bunch of phone numbers and clubs, and you know the general area and dates that you want to go, it's time to start calling people. There are a couple of handy sites on the net that can help you in this endeavor. First, there is a web site called Switchboard (http://www.switchboard.com) that is like a phone book for the entire country! Type in a name of an individual or a business, and it will show you as many matches for those names and numbers that it can come up with. Type in the name of the city as well, and you will probably get an exact match. For instance, say I wanted to look up the phone number for the Chameleon in San Francisco. I'd type in Chameleon, and San Francisco, CA in the appropriate spaces and the switchboard would return the address and phone number of the club. It's kinda scary knowing that someone could find YOU that way, but it's also handy for looking up phone numbers in other cities.
The other thing I like to do when I'm calling for shows is have a site called Mapquest (http://www.mapquest.com) running on my computer at the same time I'm making phone calls (I have two phone lines, so I can do this). What mapquest allows you to do is to put in the name of a city, or even a street address and it will pinpoint the location of that address on a map (at least within a block or two). It's the easiest way to tell what part of a state a particular city is in or where in a city a club is located. So, say you want to play some shows in Northern California, but you aren't sure if the phone numbers you have are in that part of the state. Put in a city name, and it would show you exactly where it is. This is a lot faster and handier than trying to look up this information in an atlas.
Also at the Mapquest site is a tool called Tripquest. This allows you to put in the names of a starting point, and an ending point, and it will give you EXACT driving instructions on how to get there. It tells you what state routes, highways, and interstates you need to take to reach where you're headed, and also gives you the mileage for different segments of the trip. It's great for making sure you aren't driving too far in one day (and in my opinion, anything over 500 miles or so is too far). Best off all, both Mapquest and Tripquest are free, and they give you the same thing you get from those road atlas software programs you see in the stores.
In addition to the above information, if you have the cash, or are just taking a vacation type trip, you can use the net to book plane tickets, get hotel rooms, rent cars, etc. Just look in the business section of a search engine such as Yahoo (http://www.yahoo.com) to find that kind of information, because there is a ton of it out there.
I hope I've managed to give you some insight into how you can use the net next time you get ready to hit the road. By no means is it the only or best way to go about booking a tour, but it can make part of the process a hell of a lot easier when you are trying to do it all yourself.
Next month: Free e-mail and web space, band sites reviews, punk rock art, and maybe a couple of sites featuring the bands of MRR columnists. Who knows what I'll run across between now and then.
As always, you can find past, present, and future copies of these columns (with hotlinks!) at my website at http://www.primenet.com/~hanford/maximum.html or you can e-mail me at email@example.com . Hopefully by the time you read this, I'll be basking in the fog at my new home in Santa Cruz, California. Since I'm moving, my snail mail address is PO Box 8059; Santa Cruz, CA 95061. Write me and tell me what to do in that town... I'm the new kid on the block.
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