The Hedge Funder’s Music Producer Brings Good Vibes to Brooklynby
Peter Shapiro is honored by BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival
Robert Plant makes video cameo as musicians, bankers gather
Ray Dalio and Paul Tudor Jones are just two of the finance types that go to shows at Peter Shapiro’s Capitol Theatre, just over the state line from their Connecticut homes, where the lobby bar is named after Jerry Garcia.
The independent music entrepreneur hears live music most nights -- from June 1 to 5, his New York venues hosted Peter Frampton, Ringo Starr and Usher (a surprise show with the Roots). In the next year or two he’ll open his fourth Brooklyn Bowl, "somewhere between New York and Las Vegas," he hints.
For finance types stuck at their desks or the fan in Cleveland, he’s started to live-stream shows. He also publishes a music magazine, Relix, and is developing an app called Fans where devotees can archive their concert histories and connect with each other. HeadCount, one of the organizations he supports, deploys volunteers to register voters at concerts.
All of which is to say, trading jobs with Shapiro sounds pretty fun.
"Oh yeah, I would in a heartbeat," said Jefferies managing director Ian Woods.
Former media investment banker Mark Leavitt, who has found a cool niche in finance as chief investment officer of Union Square Hospitality Group, put it this way: "Would you rather be working at an investment bank or be working on Grateful Dead shows?"
Both Woods and Leavitt are friendly with Shapiro, and made a point of attending the benefit that honored him Wednesday night. The event for the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Music Festival started with cocktails and dinner for 640 guests at tables decorated with terrariums, and continued with about 6,000 others joining at the Prospect Park Bandshell for a free performance by Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings.
Robert Plant made a cameo in the video for the honoree, which he filmed on his farm in Wales. Plant alluded to playing for Shapiro at the Lockn’ Festival, the Cap, the original Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg and the one in Las Vegas.
"Unfortunately, playing all those stupid gigs you’ve got everywhere, the returns aren’t that great," Plant said, standing in front of a horse. "So I got myself a little part-time job," he noted, holding a horse groom’s brush.
The video was a surprise for Shapiro and guests.
"Robert Plant saying he likes Pete! That’s heavy," said DJ Uncle Mike, who met Shapiro at Bungalow 8 and spins family-friendly tunes on Saturday afternoons at Brooklyn Bowl.
It had rained all afternoon, but the sun came out in time to prove Shapiro’s axiom that "good weather really does help make the vibe of the night." Another rule he learned from Larry Bloch, who sold the music club Wetlands Preserve to him when he was 23: "Focusing so much on your net worth is not really a great way to create good vibes."
Shapiro also paid tribute to his dad, Dan Shapiro, a lawyer and tactician who reviewed documents for his son until the day before he died in April.
"No one tried to take advantage of me, because they knew Dan Shapiro was on the watch," Shapiro said. That let him focus on creating places for live music where people can "escape, be educated, and breathe," he said.
Shapiro spent the evening giving his "Shapi" back-slap or hug to guests. They included Kanye West’s manager, Izvor Zivkovic (Shapiro on Sunday night had decided he didn’t have the time to prepare for what would have been his second West pop-up), producer Ron Delsener, Warner Music’s Alex Blavatnik, Kings of Leon manager Andy Mendelsohn, Neil Young agent Marsha Vlasic, Skrillex agent Lee Anderson and Kraig Fox of Guggenheim Partners. There were more than 20 musicians from bands like Guster, Lettuce and Joe Russo’s Almost Dead.
Last year Shapiro put surviving members of the Grateful Dead together in the Fare Thee Well concerts to mark the 50th anniversary of the band. He’s known for pairing musicians of different styles, and for his grin when he sees a band come together.
"Pete is living, breathing proof: you can be crazy and make epic things happen," said Mike Luba of Madison House Presents, who worked with Shapiro on Fare Thee Well and is bringing Mumford & Sons to Forest Hills Stadium next week. Meanwhile, the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival will offer more than 20 free events through Aug. 13.
The gala culminated with an after-party where WFUV’s Rita Houston spun tunes for mingling and dancing guests. Before putting on Devo’s "Whip It," she said she was glad to see Shapiro get his due.
"Rock & roll does not often get the cultural respect that it deserves compared to classical music or jazz or the history museum or whatever," Houston said. "It’s hard work, it’s high culture and it’s important to society. Pete being honored is proof positive of that."