Sold-out musical lineup makes for very merry holiday at the Belly Up | AspenTimes.com
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Sold-out musical lineup makes for very merry holiday at the Belly Up

Randy Cordeiro - aka "the Surreal Neil" - of Neil Diamond tribute band Super Diamond opened a two-night stand Monday at the Belly Up, the end of a sold-out week at the nightclub. (Stewart Oksenhorn/The Aspen Times)
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The Belly Up is hardly going belly up.In fact, the nightclub’s first holiday season brought in record-breaking ticket sales and encouraged owner Michael Goldberg to pursue more big-name acts.Hell’s Belles, a femme fatale AC/DC cover band, and Super Diamond, the shimmering Neil Diamond-inspired group, weren’t the only acts to create a seven-night run of sold-out shows, from Dec. 27 through Monday. Big Head Todd and the Monsters and Seal did their part.

And Jimmy Buffett started the holiday season off with a sold-out show Dec. 21. Though the Belly Up couldn’t advertise Buffett’s gig, Margaritaville fans know he plays smaller venues under the name Freddy and the Fishsticks, so they didn’t mind shelling out $600 for reserved seating and $250 for general admission. The show sold out within days.The club did have a couple of relatively slow nights – meaning it only reached about half its 450-person capacity – Dec. 22-24. As part of the terms to book Buffett, the club hosted three DJs to raise money for Buffett’s favorite charities. Z-Trip, an Aerosmith opener, drew the most people and rewarded them by playing long after hours.Goldberg also gambled by opening Christmas Eve with a DJ and Christmas with Yami Bolo, and he said he’d do it again. In fact, Goldberg learned he could have booked one or two more pricey acts, which he intends to do next holiday season. He also invited Seal and Buffett to return – each of whom individually said he’d come back, though nothing’s official yet.

A hundred reserved seats for Seal, at $350 a pop, sold out in less than a day, Goldberg said. Besides Buffett, that was the Belly Up’s highest ticket price in its 11-month history.”If you … make the experience a good experience for the audience and the artist, then it will be a good experience for me, well worth the risk,” he said.Indeed, the Belly Up brought plenty of joy to people like Aspenite Pat Ryan. He saw two shows: Hell’s Belles and G. Love.



“Hell’s Belles is just a crowd-pleaser; the lead guitar player goes off. She doesn’t sing, but when someone gives her the mic, she just screams, and everyone laughs,” Ryan said. “And G. Love interacted with the audience, made eye contact with people in the crowd. I was dancing and screaming – I lost my voice.”Belly Up bouncer Carlos Angelini described the last couple of weeks in familial terms, saying the intimacy between artists and audiences was like a little community.And, financially speaking, Goldberg did well choosing acts he paid a high price for, saying he felt confident they would fill the house.”If we do a sellout show and we don’t make money, I shouldn’t be in this business,” he said.


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