As co-founder and head booker for Juicebox Live in St Albans, Luke Hinton’s role covers proramming and promoting shows at grassroots music venues The Horn (cap. 200) in the town, The Half Moon (160) in Bishop’s Stortford and Wilkestock Festival (4,000 in Hertfordshire, which this year featured The Fratellis and Mallory Knox.
What are your first live music memories?
“My first gig was Simple Minds on the Street Fighting Years Tour, at Wembley Arena when I was 9 years old. I think that my Dad and his friends had a spare ticket and decided to take me along.
“I had always spent time listening to my Dad’s record and CD collection, with The Beatles, The Who and Bruce Springsteen being favourites, and that helped me develop a passion for music before going to secondary school.
“The whole Britpop era marked a massive period in my life, taking my GCSE’s in 1996, along with Euro ‘96 being held in England, with a sound track of exciting music coming out . I felt like things were changing and for the first time in my life, we would have a change in the political situation too.
“Getting tickets to see Oasis on the Saturday at Knebworth in 1996 was the biggest thing in the world for me at the time. It was a massive moment and is probably one of the reasons I’m doing what I do.
“Leaving school after A-levels, I went to the University of Wolverhampton to do Sports Studies with Leisure Management, but left after the first year. I spent too many nights out watching bands and that cost more money than I had available from my student loan.
“I then went on to work for a bank, working my way from a branch cashier to one of the top performing mortgage advisors in the company.”
How did you get into the music industry?
“Through a passion of watching live music and friends’ bands, I got involved in flyering gigs and being a part of street teams for various bands, All of this was unpaid, but got me free entry to shows.
“Initially, my now wife Rachael, a couple of friends and myself started Juicebox Live in 2007 as a monthly night where we would all DJ and invite a couple of local bands, plus a non-local act we’d heard about. My role was to book the bands and organise the structure of the night. After less than six months, we had taken the events from monthly in one venue to doing nights in various other towns.
“In early 2013 I was invited to take on booking for the original music nights at The Horn, which I did this while still working in a full-time job. Then, in January 2015, I went full-time at The Horn. Two years later, I was invited to help booking acts for Wilkestock, a festival that raises money for charities such as Bloodwise, which means a great deal to me, as my mother died of leukaemia in 2016.”
What were your greatest low and high points?
“I always try and look forward to what we have coming up and, rather than looking back on anything as a failure, and to use these experiences as things to learn from.
“Admittedly there were times in the early years when myself and Racahel had to use every spare penny we had to cover event and venue costs. We did question why we did it, but then we would discover another great new band and we’d carry on doing it.
“As for high points, in 2016 and this year, I was honoured to have won the Best Indie Promoter – Local Impact award at the Live Music Business Awards. Having started doing the job as a complete novice to receiving this level of recognition was amazing.
”The things that have made me most proud of what we’ve done are seeing people that we’ve given opportunities to, making a success in their various fields, whether it be artistes or members of our events team.”
Where do you see the industry going?
“The music industry is evolving faster than ever and it’s key to remain open to new developments and how they can help whatever you’re doing. When I started promoting social media was in it’s infancy, but now it plays a huge part and it’s difficult to remember how different things were.
“We will continue to grow Juicebox Live and build a larger team. I will always want us to work with grassroots artistes playing their first gigs, through to international touring bands, and make the experience the best it can be for everyone involved.”
How do you unwind?
“I’ve been married to Rachael since 2015 and we have a two-year-old boy called Alfie. We try and spend as much time doing things together, along with friends and family, like visits to the coast, the zoo and museums.
“Although it’s not always relaxing, I have a season ticket at Tottenham Hotspur which allows me to switch-off for a few hours.
“It’s important to regularly remind ourselves what is important in life and ensure that we spend as much time as we can doing things we enjoy, spending time with those we really want to be around.”