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Booking the Show with Ray Meoni of Diavolo Booking

One of the biggest struggles observed among new bands emerging in the local scene with no prior experience is the lack of knowledge on how to get booked or promote their shows. “The idea behind what promoters look for, I think it’s different for everybody. What I look for is gonna be different than somebody else,” says Ray Meoni, owner, booker, and promoter of Scranton-based Diavolo Booking and organizer of the Happy Skalidays Music Festival. “The difference between who I am as a promoter versus who other people are as promoters is that I actually help…I don’t have a fucking team of people that do this.”

Diavolo Booking has been booking/promoting in Scranton and surrounding areas since 2022, but Ray has been involved in the scene for what seems like a lifetime. Playing in and fronting various bands, doing stand-up comedy, and now managing Diavolo Booking on his own, besides the occasional help from his sister Jess, community organizer of the Scranton Punk Collective, Ray is a dedicated part of the local scene.

Ray believes the pros and cons of booking and promoting often fluctuate, sometimes outweighing each other, because anything can happen at a show. “Anything you can think of that would be the shittiest situation while booking the show could actually happen, and the best thing you can think of for a show could happen, as well,” says Ray. One of the biggest examples of this is having a “bands watching bands” situation. “The last thing I want to happen is no one showing up for a show... but that’s gonna happen regardless, I guess that’s really what the biggest con is,” he says. “... I really don’t care about making money or anything like that. I’d rather see bands make the money more than anything.” Another con to booking shows is that even if you book a show months in advance, it doesn't really matter when you have other shows happening in the area on the same day. “I don’t really like to say ‘competing’… I don’t like to see anything as a competition because it’s not. I’d rather have a bunch of things to do in Scranton than have one thing to do,” says Ray. “I always try to go out and support everybody else after my stuff.”

For Ray, the pros of the industry come in the form of packed rooms and sold-out shows. “You look around and realize that somehow you made this happen; it’s a different kind of feeling that is really indescribable.” When it comes to booking shows, Ray believes he books completely differently compared to others, “A lot of people book for a big draw, but I just like seeing my friends. Most of the bands in this area, I just love. I listen to their music all the time... I don’t necessarily look for bands that I want on shows; it’s more about trying to figure out who would work well together. But every band in this area works well together.”

This past winter, Ray put on Diavolo Booking’s annual Happy Skalidays Music Festival, but this time with a change of venue. “Clarky’s is really fun; I have to give it to them a little bit because they let me bring in all this noise in an area that obviously is not meant for it. For them to let me do what I’m doing is definitely something big.” Clarky’s Billiards has been a hotspot for shows in 2024, and Diavolo Booking will be making a return with University Drive, FOSH, Altered Pink, and The Robinsonade on June 14th.

“I do shows anywhere I can,” says Ray. Last month, he put on his first show at Bar and Company in Olyphant, PA, booking Bob and The Devil, The Mesos, Pucker Up!, and Old Daggers. “The show went very well, and I’m very happy with that. They were cool with pretty much everything that went on throughout the night. Already, I think it’s gonna be a good venue for shows.” When asked about his other favorite venue in the valley, he told us that he believes the “go-to” venue in Scranton is The V-Spot. “There are a lot of qualities to The V-Spot that kind of trump any other place to go see a show; that’s the go-to. If you’re gonna play in Scranton, you go to The V-Spot.”

When it comes to booking with Ray, he says, “Just message whatever fuckin’ Facebook page if you aren’t already my friend on Facebook, but if you are my friend on Facebook just fuckin’ message me, I don't care, it’s literally that easy.” Even simpler, if he happens to see you at a show he’s attending, he said he’ll walk right up to you and say, “Hey, I’m Ray, you should message me when you want to do a show or something, whatever.”

A lot of newer bands struggle to build an audience, but Ray suggests sponsoring yourself and trying to grow your outreach. “As a local band in this area, if you’re not sponsoring, no one's gonna see it. If you only put in $10, you’re still reaching like 100 people that haven’t heard or seen your band.” He also offers the advice that “you can’t be playing shows every single weekend; you want to play consistently, but you don’t want to play too much…”

As someone so dedicated to the scene, I was interested to know who Ray’s current favorite local bands are, to which I was met with the same response I get from almost everyone, “I hate this question.” Though he was disappointed that I would not let him do a “Top 50,” his response was, “Well, punk bands, I love Old Daggers; they’re very consistent every time you see them, they put on a good show. University Drive puts on amazing shows. Pucker Up! is great, and Christ Chopper is great. Old Daggers, University Drive, Pucker Up!, Christ Chopper, that would be a sick lineup, though.”

When talking to members of the local scene, the same sentiment comes up often: we have a special and incomparable scene in NEPA. “We’re all close with each other… It’s not like they’re just going to support their friends; they actually like the music that the bands are putting out. I realistically feel like the NEPA scene in general; you can’t compare it to anybody else.”

Find the next Diavolo Booking show at Clarky’s Billiards on Friday, June 14th.

Ray’s “All Local” 10 Song Playlist:

  • Runaway - Old Daggers

  • Set Sail - A Fighting Chance

  • Down - Terror on the Screen

  • Give Up - University Drive

  • Church Chocolate - Christ Chopper

  • Creole (i’m not fucking) - Pucker Up!

  • Breathe - Esta Coda

  • The Neighbors - Toothless

  • Vacant Home - So Much Hope, Buried., Fall of Tears

  • Inner Turmoil - Death Grip, Bryan Anthony

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