Dom Gagliardi has been booking, producing and curating events in the Tetons for over a decade. Gagliardi first took over The Rose and The Pink Garter Theatre in 2010 and has since exposed a culturally rich, diverse and quality assortment of artistic acts to the community of Jackson Hole.
The Garter stage has been graced by artists like Public Enemy, TV on the Radio, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, ODESZA, and a solo show by Jack White. Now it’s time to say goodbye to the venue as the LLC behind shows at the Garter prepares to throw its last event.
Gagliardi joined us in the KHOL studios in advance of “The FUNeral of the Pink Garter” on July 12 — a show featuring the Grammy-nominated Band of Horses, one of the groups that helped kick off the legacy of the Garter almost exactly 10 years ago.
The following interview transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity. This conversation was recorded on Friday, June 24.
JACK CATLIN/KHOL: What were some of your growing pains [at the venue]? And then on the flip side of that, some of your most proud moments in those early days?
DOM GAGLIARDI: I think the growing pains were just the timing of when we decided to do it. It was 2009 and the financial world was pretty tough. It was tough to find partners. And I’m super thankful and want to give a shoutout to all of the investors that were part of The Rose and Pink Garter. And the business we built was called The Rose Jackson Hole LLC, and that’s what funded the remodel. We put a lot of money into building out the bar and going into the lobby, in the lobby bar and some into the theater, and then eventually built out a kitchen as well. So, the growing pains were just putting all of that together. It was an intertwined process of raising money and building it out. And we’re still doing shows and we’re building the bar out. We would close down the construction project, put carpet back on the floor, throw people into the theater, have a party, and start up again on Monday on construction. But it was like, ‘The show must go on.’ You know, we already had these booked and we were ready to go. It was good because we kept the community coming through the doors and coming to experience them. When we were able to launch The Rose, it was exciting for everybody to see that we had a music venue in a bar, you know, that they could work with each other. And that’s how we got it all going.
KHOL: For those unaware, there is a ton of work involved [in your field]. What exactly goes into producing a successful event?
GAGLIARDI: The booking process is a lot. I mean, we as the Rose and Pink Garter Theatre, we had taken the years that we had connections with the music industry from The Mangy Moose and other events that I had done through my production company. And that brought Ethan Oxman on board [and] Matt Donovan before that, and they helped with the booking and Ethan had good connections through him doing some booking on the artist side, and we just kind of got out there and got known. Jackson was pretty well known for The Mangy Moose stuff and The Center for the Arts and different outdoor festivals and things like that. And the process really is just trying to convince these bands to come to our little market.
We’re five hours away from any major city but it’s a beautiful place and people want to come here, and they want a good excuse to come here. So, we kind of rode that a lot, and that’s where a lot of the legwork comes in. And then once you get the show booked, there are a thousand different things that you need to do to make sure that, you know, every detail is handled from what the bands need on the rider and, you know, the production levels and what they require and that we need to have. And so, that was a growing thing for the theatre, putting those things into place, bringing extra stuff in when certain bands would come. I mean, some of these bands you mentioned like Odesza and when Pretty Lights played there, I mean, the amount of sound that we had to get up to that second level in lights was ridiculous, but it was always worth it. You know, just really long days and hustle to get all that gear up there. And then in the end you get this amazing show with a band that’s probably not played a 500-cap room in a long time. And that was always the labor of love for it all. Once the show hit the stage and that first note went out, that was when all of us had a big smile and were like: This all worth it.
KHOL: You had a long and successful run of bringing some amazing talent to Jackson. How important is it to you to expose different and sometimes unexpected acts to the local community?
GAGLIARDI: I think it’s very important. I think that was one of our main goals with the Pink Garter, particularly when we started having a regular venue that we could book all the time, was to really expand on things. And that venue opened up to that. We could do shows like Public Enemy or, you know, some crazy Hip Hop acts that are in there or very artistic type of shows and just really broaden the style of music and events that we could do so everybody could have something they liked. That was a big part of it. Jackson has a tendency to get stuck in its own style, or people’s impression of what our style is. It’s that we’re in the mountains. We’re a lot like Colorado. And there’s lots of Americana, lots of bluegrass. And we did tons of those shows and loved them. You know, we had some amazing Infamous String Dusters shows in there that blew the roof off. But we wanted to do a little bit of everything. That was a fun part about it, was having a good general admission room that we could do that and just kind of keep the ticket prices where they needed to be for that size of act and just kind of do a little bit of everything.
KHOL: Can you touch on a couple of those maybe special shows and reminisce for a bit about those experiences?
GAGLIARDI: When it all comes together, and this show that we’re about to do is kind of one of those stories, when we work on something for a while and can see the vision of like, ‘How is this show going to do something for our town?’ It was always that way, even back in The Mangy Moose when we had KRS-One come and play and then he spoke to a bunch of people here at the center and it was amazing. It made us all like really connected to what he was talking about. And at the Pink Garter, like the Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings show, those of us who are fans of Sharon knew where she was with her health. And it wasn’t in a good place. But she was such a trooper that she wanted to keep doing shows and we kept working on them [like], ‘Is this possible? Is it possible? Can we make it happen? We’ll be ready for you if you say go.’ And she did. And we played the movie a few days before she put out a documentary about her struggles with cancer. And we put that movie out and a bunch of people came and saw that. And then she came and performed. And I remember bringing my kids there for soundcheck when they were little and they were just sitting up in the balcony and then they got to meet Sharon. And it was such an amazing experience. She was just so full of life and she only lived for a few weeks more.
KHOL: You’re calling this upcoming show with Band of Horses on July 12, ‘The FUNeral’ spelled with a capital F-U-N. Is this really it, Dom? And how did the show come about?
GAGLIARDI: Well, yeah, a little explanation on the name, it’s fun, you know, in capital F-U-N, it’s the funeral. ‘The Funeral’ is one of their most popular songs. The way that we are billing this and presenting it, the Rose LLC, as I mentioned, is the entity that has been behind all of these shows and this business for the last 10 years, since we started. Our entity has been taking a lot of financial risks to put on these concerts for a decade. And when COVID came, we had to readjust our lease and ended up just running the bar. We couldn’t operate the theater. So, we decided that we were going to keep running the bar and we couldn’t do shows because of COVID. And then in the last year, there’s been an opportunity to go back in there a little bit. We really wanted to go back in one more time and send it off right. So, it’s a fun play on it. This is the last show that our entity is going to put on. So, for us and to celebrate that, I’m bringing all my partners in, people in the community, our friends, and having one big send off the way that we started it — to do a big show with a great band that’s too big to play in our room. So, we’re doing that again. We called it the FUNeral of the Pink Garter because we wanted to send it off the right way. The show itself is, it’s a big band that’s playing with The Black Keys on an amphitheater tour, playing in a small room and we convinced them to come and do this. It took a while to do so.
KHOL: Yeah. How did that process work?
GAGLIARDI: You know, this is how it works a lot with booking music in Jackson is you see these bands that have a day off. They’re going to Salt Lake City and going to Denver and it’s always kind of been that. And even back, you know, from the beginning to The Mangy Moose, [the question] was, ‘How do we get these bands to come here?’ And so we saw that and mostly pointed out by one of our production guys, Adam Klomp, who’s a huge Band of Horses fan, was like, ‘Yo, they got a day off,’ and I was like, ‘Yes they do.’ So this is early winter. I started sending messages to their management and to agents and they didn’t really pay much attention because, you know, they’re on tour with The Black Keys. Why are they going to go play in this small room in Jackson?
And then as it built up, I just kept kind of painting the picture for them that look, we did this show 10 years ago. And just to give everyone a little background on that show, 10 years ago, they were going to Salt Lake City to play the Twilight series, which is a big outdoor series. They had put out the album “Mirage Rock.” They hadn’t really rehearsed the new album. They needed a place to rehearse. So they called and said, ‘Can we rehearse in your theater?’ And I said, ‘Well, yeah, that’s great. I’ll give it to you, but you got to play a show. You’re not coming to our town and just not playing, you know?’ And they’re like ‘Okay, fair enough. We’ll do it.’ So, that show was a big deal and it was just super magical. Everybody loved it. They had a chance to rehearse their songs. They recorded a song in The Pink Garter. If you go to Spotify and look at the “Knock Knock” song at the bottom of their playlist, it’s recorded in the Pink Garter. They went out into the mountains, recorded something and put it up on YouTube. It was just like a really cool, wholesome experience with them. And so I started bringing up those stories back to their agency and their management and kind of like tried to pull the heartstrings on them and they finally came around, you know, three weeks before their coming and said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it!’ So, we’re excited. We’re happy to bring them off this big tour, bring them in. We’re going to set everything up for them so it’s nice and easy and just have an amazing night.
Listen above for KHOL’s full conversation with Dom Gagliardi.
This coverage is funded in part with an Arts For All grant provided by the Town of Jackson and Teton County.