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A Conversation with Joshua Bakaitus

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With the motto "Serving thousands since 2000," Bridgeport Entertainment (www.bridgeportent.com) has brought hundreds of indie and major-label bands into the Charleroi and Pittsburgh areas for concerts. It also designs Web sites and releases records, and has dabbled in fashion and band management. Wearing all these hats is founder 19-year-old Joshua Bakaitus, a Charleroi High School graduate who just finished his first year at Westmoreland County Community College, where he studies graphics and Web design ... "kinda just more like a back-up thing," as he puts it.

 

 

What encouraged you to start putting on shows?

My cousin was in a band called Misdirected. That was the first underground show I went to. Even though it was at the American Music Café, I really liked hanging out at a show that wasn't a major, huge production, you know? And then, I just kinda wanted to do it ... to see what it was like. I had a Web site a while ago for local bands [called] Pittbands.com. That's how I pretty much started, and the first show I did was a summer festival just to promote the site a little bit. I've been doing this for seven years now, so I guess I started around the summer of 2000.

 

So you were 12?

Yeah, I was really young. Like, a little too young. My parents didn't really like it at first; but they like it a lot now, they think it's cool and everything. My parents used to always be there and help me out a lot, and do all the financial stuff.

 

What types of music do you book?

I'm trying to get all over the place as far as genres and everything. I usually do metal stuff or pop-punk stuff, but lately I'm trying to get into more of an adult crowd ... indie-rock stuff. I just see that lasting more as a future thing, as far as an older crowd and stuff. I pretty much do it all except for ... I would like to, but I haven't touched base on hip hop or anything like that yet.

 

Is Bridgeport Entertainment a full-time business?

Yeah, pretty much. I usually wake up around 10 or so and get my computer and just start booking shows until four in the morning sometimes. I pretty much do it all day long, every day. It pays the bills enough. If a show does good, I'll make a little bit to live off of for a while. But I make sure I pay everybody pretty well.

 

Who else works at Bridgeport?

My girlfriend [Chelsea McCain], actually ... she's pretty much my assistant. If any bands contact me, sometimes I have a hard time getting back to them right away, so [Chelsea] takes care of that stuff for me. That way I don't leave local bands or regional bands hanging out without a response. She also is the box-office manager at all the shows ... she pretty much runs it herself.

 

Is it strange to have your girlfriend working for you?

Not really. She's doing a really good job, though, for me. I mean, I see her every day anyway, and she likes to help out too.

 

You've said that putting on a show is like gambling.

It definitely is. If the shows do good, I have to pay the bands what I promised to pay. I'm contracted with the booking agents and bands, and if it doesn't do good, I still have to pay it. A lot of people don't understand, don't realize how much promoters pay for the bands that come through.

 

Is there a disconnect between the suburban scenes and Pittsburgh's scene?

In the city, there's more of an older crowd, from 19 to whatever. In the suburbs, it's like high school and middle-school kids coming to shows. The kids in the suburbs are kinda just learning, too ... just like me, whenever I was just starting out.

 

What do you want out of this?

It's cool to be in music without playing the music. Just the behind-the-scenes stuff, meeting my favorite bands, and bringing them through and working with them is awesome. I want to do it forever. I kinda want to get a job for a bigger company, not too too big ... that way I can have that steady paycheck and still be doing what I love to do.

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