Jennifer Tefft remembers with pinpoint accuracy the dates of virtually every show she’s ever booked. Even the date of very first show she booked back in college, in the chapel basement, when she and some friends grew restless on their small campus. What she can’t remember, she references off a list she’s maintained over the years. It’s that kind of devotion to music which makes Tefft’s job almost second nature to her; and it’s also that devotion that has helped make a Silver Lake Boulevard night club – which once hosted the legendary Spaceland and is now home to the The Satellite – an icon of the LA music scene. The 40-year-old talent booker has helped foster the careers of some of the biggest up and coming bands in a decade-plus tenure booking bands at both clubs.
Tefft also maintains a straight-talking bravado, which is a trademark of everything she does. It’s evident from the cold-calls she made to Tower Records in the early ‘90s that scored her a first job in L.A. to the fateful conversation she had on January 22, 1999 with then-Spaceland promoter Mitchell Frank at a Ween concert, which landed her a gig inside the Silver Lake club.
What have you learned about the neighborhood via its music tastes?
That it’s super diverse. There are people that care about every kind of music. This neighborhood appreciates all kinds of art.
Is there a unique quality that make bands apt for Monday Night Residencies as opposed to an ordinary show?
Yeah. I’m looking for bands that have already played the club a few times. I like to see signs of development. I like to see that they have the ability to curate shows. I like it when bands are putting out a record because I feel like there should be a purpose behind the residency.
You’ve been booking bands here for over a decade – how has the business and the music itself changed over that time?
I certainly see that the music scenes in LA change every 3-5 years. I’ve probably seen at least 5 generations of scene go in and out of this club. lIke right now it’s that dancey, poppy, electro scene but there’s been other times where it’s a lot of garage rock or shoegaze music – and there’s still pockets of that too. In this city there are all kinds of scenes. It’s always going to evolve and I just have to try and keep up with it.
Who is the biggest band to have gotten their start at Spaceland/ The Satellite?
Silversun Pickups, Airborne Toxic Event… Airborne Toxic Event in particular, we did a Thursday night residency with them in 2008. When they started that residency they did not have a manager, they did not have a label. But they had a song that was amazing and it ended up in regular rotation on KROQ by the end of that month. I watched that band explode that month. Also Local Natives in 2009 – same thing with them. I watched them blow up in that month. Ideally I want a band to have a successful residency and then go on to headline the Troubadour or the El Rey and so on. That’s always my goal.
What band has been your biggest coup to book?
Well I’m a humongous fan of ‘60s soul music, so when I booked Mavis Staples I was about ready to pee myself. This lady used to open for Martin Luther King, Jr. She’s so magnificent. That meant a lot to me. And then also Booker T. Jones. Booker T. Was the leader of the house band at Stax Records! Meeting him was like [sighs]…that was exciting for me. I could go on…I did the first Arcade Fire show in Los Angeles…Grizzly Bear – so many people played here first.
Marni Epstein Epstein is an entertainment, music, and lifestyle Journalist and resident of Echo Park. She has previously worked in the film and digital media industries with FOX and Sony Pictures Entertainment. She is currently also pursuing a Masters in Historic Preservation.