Industry Profile: Caprio set to take Fox Theatre through its 15th anniversary

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By Brian F. Johnson

 As Fox Theatre general manager John Caprio walked down 13th Street on The Hill inBoulder, with his ever-present smile gleaming in the sunlight, he stopped and shook hands with a local beat cop, calling her by first name and asking her personal questions very unlike the way most people speak to the police.

Caprio was sort of playing his role as the face of the Fox, but it was evident, even in the very short exchange, that whether he was the GM at the Fox or not, he would have been happy to talk with the woman. It’s what he does, after all, and he loves it.

In October of 1999, during a trip around the country with his then-girlfriend and now fiance, Caprio stood inside the Fox Theatre for the first time. It was his first night in Boulder and he was floored to be standing in the theatre that, as an East Coaster, he had only heard about through concert lore.

He turned to Sonya that night and said, “If I could ever work here that’d be the coolest thing.”

Since then, Caprio, who left his marketing and publicity career to take the post as the Fox’s box office manager, has climbed the ranks of the legendary rock club. He moved from box office manager to publicist, then to assistant general manager, and now holds the seat of the GM.

As GM, he does what all the previous managers before him have done — man the helm, essentially — but Caprio’s exuberance for his job, and his humble kindness as a person is evident to everyone who enters the doors, be they a nationally touring act, a local opener, an employee, or a fan.

Caprio took over the GM position in August of 2004 and is getting set to take the Fox into its 15th anniversary this month, which a series of shows by top performers, many of whom have long-lasting ties with the club. (The Funky Meters, who played the Fox in 1992 and were the first band to ever be paid by the Fox for a performance, will return on March 8 and 9 to help celebrate the anniversary of the club.

Marquee: What was the first concert you ever attended?

Caprio: The Monkees. My parents took me on one of their reunion tours. I was, like, 11 years old then, and it was at the South Shore Music Tent in Boston.

Marquee: What was the first album you ever bought?

Caprio: (Michael Jackson’s )Thriller. I had the jacket and the whole nine yards.

Marquee: What band was it that really got you into music, or can you even narrow it down?

Caprio: Mid-to late-’80s hip-hop. Break-dancing stuff like Run-DMC, Public Enemy, LL Cool J. You gotta remember where I came from. That was the big thing. I’m from Revere, Mass., a sort of Italian suburb right outside of Boston, 10 minutes from the Logan Airport and 15 minutes from the Boston Garden. At like 14, 15, 16 years old this music had a purpose and a point to us.

Marquee: What role do you play as GM?

Caprio: I’m the face of the Fox to all the employees and I make sure the departments are running in line, but on the outside it’s working with neighboring businesses and city council and things like that. If someone has an issue I’m the guy they want to talk to.

Marquee: So you don’t book any of the music?

Caprio: No. Eric and Sarah (talent buyer Eric Pirritt and assistant talent buyer Sarah Finger) make my job a lot easier.

Marquee: What’s the best part of your job?

Caprio: I love my job. I love going to work every day and being psyched about it. At first, I just wanted to hang out and see shows here, but to work here is amazing. The best part is making people happy, all around. Bands come in and they have a great experience, and that starts with our production staff, and if they have a great show then the fans are happy and have a good time and it’s a cycle. My goal is for everyone to have a “top show” memory from the Fox, and that’s part of the legacy I’ve been entrusted with.

Marquee: You talk about the legacy of the Fox a lot, what do you mean?

Caprio: Well there’s a lot of history here. I mean everyone has played here before they got big. Radiohead, Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, Widespread Panic, Phish, Dave Matthews, all played here. But beyond just that, it’s honoring the ghost of Dicke. Richard “Dicke” Sidman (who passed away in 1995) started the Fox with Don (Strasburg) and James (Hambleton) in 1992. Dicke had given his life to music and the Fox was his vision. We’re just lucky we’ve carried it through for 15 years. Dicke’s motto was “don’t panic” and it’s something I try to do everyday, which isn’t easy when you have someone calling and cancelling with no notice.

Marquee: What are the best shows you’ve seen at the Fox?

Caprio: David Byrne, who played R&R withRussell Crowe’s band opening, Snoop Dogg in 2001, The Strokes and Ween. I asked Sonya to marry me on stage at the Ween show. We get married on Father’s Day weekend this summer. 

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