JOHN "GRINDER" PROCACCINI
John "Grinder" Procaccini
is president and CEO of JP Squared (JP2), which includes
Nextech, an event production company; Chilibop Entertainment Group,
an artist and event management firm; the Upstage Center Theatre, a
250-seat music venue in northern Nevada; and Sierra Starlight Amphitheater,
a 1,500-seat outdoor music venue, also in northern
John grew up in his family's Rhode Island deli and catering business
where he earned the nickname "Grinder" (named for a sandwich),
that has stuck with him throughout 25 years in entertainment production.
His professional experience comes from first-hand knowledge of the
set and scenic industry through his years on the road with music tours.
He began his career in entertainment production in 1976 as a lighting
tech for club bands in Boston/Providence area. From 1977-79, he toured
as a set carpenter/rigger with the rock group Boston, and through the
late 80's with performers such as Sammy Hagar, REO Speedwagon and Jefferson
Airplane as a production and stage manager, which gained him extensive
knowledge of concert production and the live event industry. He earned
additional international experience as site coordinator for large stadium
shows for Frank Sinatra.
In 1987 John formed Stage Craft, a set and scenic construction company,
and remained president through 2000. During his tenure, among Stage
Craft's key accomplishment: it developed into one of the industry's
top five set construction companies offering full service production;
constructed world-class sets for entertainers such as MC Hammer, Pink
Floyd, Reba McIntire, Kiss, Boston, ZZ Top, Prince, The Bee Gees, Garth
Brooks, Vince Gill, and many others; designed and built high-profile
exhibits for conventions such as NATPE, E3 and MAGIC, and for clients
including Kingworld, Bohbot, CBS, Nintendo, Kodak, Coca Cola, Motorola
and the United Defense Commission, among others; and was selected as
the only company to construct large scale elements for the Papal Visit
to St. Louis in 1999.
In 1988, John began his foray into event marketing as production coordinator
for MTV. He immediately recognized the need of experienced professionals
in the industry of marketing tours and realized the potential, as companies
would search for better and creative marketing outlets. Strengthening
his relationship with MTV, John developed and formed Stage Craft into
a "one-stop shop," serving marketing departments and event
marketing companies in the burgeoning field of marketing events and
tours. He served as general contractor for a two-year, 60-city MTV
John's continued involvement in the development of marketing tours
and events has kept him at the forefront of the industry and created
a sizable client list for his companies. The continued involvement
and growth in the field of concert tours and theatrical presentations
spurred him to open a Nashville location in 1994 to accommodate the
Eastern region and the growing country music genre.
In November 2000 he formed JP Squared Mobile Staging and Productions,
and in April 2001, started ChiliBop Entertainment Group. Of the three
artists ChiliBop manages, the most prominent right now is Raskal, "a
rap artist with eight songs in the top 100 MP3.com charts, of which
one single has national airplay and holds the number two spot on MP3.com
Top 40 and number five on the Billboard.com charts," John notes. "We
also have singer/ songwriter, Larry Nair, and a metal act called The
Gods Entertainment, who are a regional touring band."
John also began development of a family project with his wife Judy,
sons Josh and Domenic II, and daughter Amyjo - The Upstage Center for
performing arts, a theatre complex and performing arts venue, attracting
such national acts as Michael McDonald, The Rippingtons, Delbert McClinton,
Poco, Jesse Colin Young, Karla Bonoff, America, Ambrosia, Gary Wright,
Al Stewart, Rita Coolidge, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Janis Ian, Blind Boys
of Alabama, Charlie Musselwhite, Gaelic Storm, Leo Kottke, Norton Buffalo,
Roger McGuinn, Michelle Shocked, Richard Elliott, Warren Hill, Roy
Rogers and the Delta Rhythm Kings, Shana Morrison, Adrian Legg, David
Lindley and Wally Ingram, among others.
What did you learn in your production days, that helps
you in your multi-faceted business today?
The ability to act quickly
on issues. As a production manager, you need to
be able to get a good feeling for the issues at hand, how your decision
will affect all involved and make that decision swiftly using your
experience, knowledge and sometimes just relying on that gut feeling.
Are there any specific events that led you to diversify into your
present enterprise today?
Yes. As Stage Craft grew into a departmentalized,
full-service production company, I realized that there were functions
in the company that I enjoyed more than others. For instance, I spent
an awful lot of my time helping our event marketing clients like MTV,
VH1, CBS and others develop their vision for a particular program that
included entertainment components as well as product launches, programming
boosts, etc. This was much more enjoyable to me than the fabrication
part of our business or even the hardware rental part of our business.
With the companies that I oversee today, they specialize, versus being
everything to everyone. Chilibop has its own small staff that I oversee
which specializes in the development of special events and music artists.
Nextech, run by my son Josh, specializes in hardware rental, mobile
staging, lighting, sound, generators, etc, and our music venues are
run by myself and my two partners, so I get the best of all three and
get to dabble a bit.
Is there any one area you enjoy more?
The project development and artist management. (My
wife says it's the controlling side of me!).
First industry job
Boston - Don't Look Back Tour 1977, part of the rigging
team and set carpenter.
Site Coordinator - Frank Sinatra tour 1987
Frank Sinatra tour 1987 -- The disappointment with
the Sinatra tour was in that it was so big, and so secure that there
was no gratitude for the things you did on such a difficult tour.
But primarily it was emotionally challenging for me, as I had to
leave my newborn son (5 days old) to go to Italy.
Taking a 6-truck MTV tour into malls for a 30-week
run in 1988.
Best business decision
Relinquishing duties to employees who were smarter
than me in certain areas of the business.
Best advice you received
Take care of me first and don't take this business
Best advice to offer
Stay focused and do what it is you do best, your
best should be good enough for most!
Most memorable industry experience
Being with an act that garnered three # 1 singles
off of one album - Starship, We Built this City - 1985. The memorable
experience with the Starship was quite the opposite. My position
as stage manager was one that was appreciated, the camaraderie between
band and crew was awesome. I received my first gold/platinum records
from the Starship organization and really felt like part of the team.
What friends would be surprised to learn about you
Not sure I could surprise anyone as I was expected
to go on being in entertainment from the time I
played bass at my eighth grade dance. My band was
called ... get this . . . "Satans
Children" - My School was St. Bartholomew's Catholic Church
in Providence, RI. I created the wackiest light
show - Sister Mary Agatha retired to a convalescent
home the next week.
Industry pet peeve
Collecting the balance - no one likes to pay you!!
Harley Davidson trinkets - Lots of em!!!
If I wasn't doing this, I would be…
…back in the deli business. Nothing better than a good "grinder".
Arthur "Torch" Russo, Jim " Deli" Delahanty, Jeff
John can be reached at 775-882-8900, ext. 101; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
by Jane Cohen & Bob Grossweiner