Rival Entertainment’s Brandon Mize is the guy behind some of Atlanta’s best fan experiences
When it comes to music, Brandon Mize is one of Atlanta’s most in-the-know insiders.
The congenial talent buyer at Rival Entertainment and Center Stage in Midtown is humble about his 15 years with the company, but that’s not because he doesn’t have big chops in the Atlanta concert scene. Mize books about 300 artists each year for Center Stage’s three venues: Center Stage Theater (a 1,050-person theater), Vinyl (an intimate, 300-person space) and The Loft (a popular DJ spot with four bars and a capacity of 650). He also is responsible for selecting the diverse talent for all of Rival’s homegrown festivals and event clients, such as Steamhouse Oysterfest, Atlanta Dogwood Festival, Blue Moon BeltLine Boil and Candler Park Music and Food Festival.
The native Tennessean joined Center Stage when the venue was called EarthLink Live after an internship at House of Blues (now The Tabernacle) in 2002. He says of the local live music scene at the time, “It was on fire. There was a lot of community in the local scene, where local bands supported other local bands and came out to see their shows.”
Today, Mize notes, that same community spirit still exists, but Atlanta itself has changed. “The city keeps growing, which is great for us. It has gone beyond just a local scene to a more national scene, and more artists are recognizing Atlanta as a hub for their shows. It allows all of our venues to do more shows.”
Indeed, on any given day, Mize receives hundreds of emails from artists or agents looking to book their talent. “The more we foster relationships with artists and their agents, the more shows we do with them over the years,” explains Mize, who nurtured the early careers of Marc Broussard, Citizen Cope and Needtobreathe, who all got their start at Vinyl. “When we feel an artist has outgrown Center Stage, we recommend going outside our own spot to a trusted partner in the market. This flexibility allows us to keep working with artists as they grow.” Rival’s venue partners include The Fox Theatre, Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, Infinite Energy Center (formerly Gwinnett Arena) and Centennial Olympic Park.
Mize’s Tennessee roots may call to mind country music, but his playlists boast a vast array of different genres, from Counting Crows to Jay Z. Right now, he’s still listening to Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, a headlining artist he booked for June’s Candler Park Music and Food Festival’s lineup that also included Lake Street Dive, Matisyahu and Railroad Earth, among others. “This event is special to me because it’s something Rival started from the ground up. We do every aspect of the festival, and it has been growing every year,” he says.
What’s next for Mize? He has his music sights on the Old Fourth Ward Fall Fest on September 9 in the meadow by the neighborhood’s skate park. The family-friendly event coincides with the popular Lantern Parade on the Atlanta BeltLine’s Eastside Trail. “It is a fantastic event that brings the community together. I like to make the musical lineup diverse and not stick to one genre to have something for everybody who comes out,” he says of the festival that will feature local and regional bands, artist-led lantern making classes and local food and drink.
Even when he’s not working a show to take care of the artists— something he does four to five nights per week—he’s typically attending one. The man about town puts in his fair share of time at Smith’s Olde Bar and Terminal West in particular. This year, Mize aspires to attend more out-of-town music festivals, too, such as Pilgrimage in Franklin, Tenn., and Outside Lands in San Francisco.
The only time he’s not listening to music? When he’s at his Westside home with his wife, Tasha, and Chihuahuas Penny Lane and Lily. “That’s my quiet time.”
STORY: Karina Antenucci
PHOTO: Erik Meadows