By September 28, 2011 0 Comments Read More →

Chris Ricci Interviewed

By The Fiesta Boyz

When you talk entertainment in the central valley, the average person begins by naming clubs, DJs, bands & artists. Allow us to make you think bigger. Who brings the biggest fest to the central valley California?  If you’re anyone in the entertainment business in central valley, this name may sound familiar “Chris Ricci”. Chris is the General Manager of one of the original night clubs in Modesto Fat Cat Music House and Lounge. He is a member of the Entertainment Commission in Modesto and this man brings you X Fest every year, he is a partner in the MAMA awards, and VP of Big Time records and President of Chris Ricci presents and a parter in the Producing Group. This man has his hands in just about anything to do with music & entertainment. Fiesta Boyz had the opportunity to meet up with one busy man and here’s what he had to say.


FiestaBoyz: Thank you very much for taking time off your busy schedule to allow us to Interview you. I understand this is one of your biggest months when you bring X-Fest to town.  Tell the readers the story how X-Fest came about and how many years it has been running?

Chris Ricci: This is our 12th year of X Fest.  We started it in 2000 right after City Hall was rebuilt and Brenden Theater was finished. We thought the redevelopment was a green light for a new kind of entertainment downtown, so we rolled the dice. Aces!


FBZ: Who are the selected head liners for X Fest?

CR: I think that really depends who you are.  Many think that Panic! At the Disco is the headliner, others would pick Jeremih, and some might say Mr. Big, Dead Kennedys, Frankie J or DJ Vice.  Needless to say we have plenty.  You can see a full list of the bands at (and on Page XX)


FBZ: Now let’s talk more about you.  Currently you are VP of Big Time Records, tell us about your position on the label?

CR: I mainly work with the label on the strategic and creative sides.  We have several acts currently signed including Seven Day Sonnet from Chicago, Princess Die, and Dazeafter.  Seven Day Sonnet is being actively promoted on Active rock with a current chart position of #42 and touring with Sick Puppies, Sevendust and Pop Evil.


FBZ: Has being a major part of Modesto History driven you to continue your work?  Who are your inspirations?

I think that the thing that drives me the most is a fear of failure.  I really hate to lose.  Ask my wife when we play Gin Rummy.  I will continue working until things work.  If I work hard and fail I know I gave it all I had and then I can relax easier.   Probably my biggest inspiration in the music business is Ken Phebus.  He was my boss when I worked my first real music business job at the Coach House down in San Juan Capistrano.  I remember waiting the whole day just to try to get a few minutes with him to talk about booking bands.  It seemed like he had booked everyone, Bob Dylan, Dave Matthews, Johnny Cash, Tina Turner, nearly every icon I could think of had played for Ken one time or another.  I really wanted to do that.   Today I work with Ken on my other company The Producing Group, LLC.  We are currently producing some festival events at the Queen Mary in Long Beach.  You can check it out at

FBZ: Do you see our city growing or going backward in 2011 when it comes to entertainment & music?

CR: I think it is hard to give it a direction.  The good news is that the Modesto music scene is truly established.  You have different genres and support systems for the bands that have formed over the past 15 years.  You have promoters that have specialized like Mike Vanek and his hard rock shows at Spinnakers and Greg Edward’s Off the Air Shows at Deva.  The Gallo Center is really embracing the community with events like Valley’s Got Talent.  The Mama Awards have never been stronger.  We also can’t forget that Chris Murphy brought ModestoView back.

The challenge that faces the music community is no different than the challenge facing the public schools and local government.  Our community needs to put people back to work and focus on educating the people that live here.  When that happens there will be the opportunity for more people to explore their passions like music.  If you are a musician that is trying to live your dream, it’s easier to do when you can afford guitar strings and gas.


FBZ: Do you have any advice for the readers and up and coming acts in the music business?

CR: If your dream is to be in the music business then get in the music business. Pick a job you like and start doing it.  Manage a band, book bands at a coffee house or bar, write about bands, make music videos, or if you play an instrument, take a run at starting a group.  Once you have taken that first step keep at it.  It takes years to develop the skills that it takes to really get into the business.  If you take the first 3 years of my career my total income was less than $10K a year and I worked 60-80 hours a week.  I wanted experience.  Once I had it I was able to spin it into jobs that generated a more reasonable income.  If you have a job or go to school, do it in your spare time until you can make the jump.  If you really want to be in the business, the key is to invest time, effort, and passion.  When you start seeing achievement, it begins to get easier to take the next step.  No band or music executive gains success in 18 months, it’s a many year investment.  However, once you get there you’ll never have to sit in a cubicle again.



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