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GABLE MUSIC VENTURES: JEREMY HEBBEL & GAYLE DILLMAN


The roots of Gable Music Ventures run deep on Market. Seeds first planted in 2011 that have bloomed and branched out touch every block on the street, every business with a stage, and every nook and cranny where music could possibly fit. Owners Jeremy Hebbel and Gayle Dillman produce what Billboard magazine has called the nation’s “largest celebration of women in music,” the annual Ladybug Festival, and though their growing festival lineup now extends as far as Smyrna and Delaware City, they remain committed to the street where they started. We chatted with Jeremy (Gayle was, sadly, out of town) about many of the milestones they’ve passed along the way…

Those Early … Experiments

“Gayle and I had no experience in the in the music business. I mean, I was a musician. Gayle certainly had event experience. But neither of us really ... well, I don't want to say we didn't know what we were doing, but it was very experimental. We were doing pop-up events at Film Brothers and renting places to do our own shows. Those were not profitable days for us.”

“Gayle likes to joke about shows at Film Brothers where there were eight people in the room, including four band members, Gordon DelGiorno from Film Brothers, her and myself.”

“But the number one thing we did back in the day, the thing that I think set us up for success, was that we paid the artists, even if it was just 40 bucks for gas money. That helped us build up a fierce loyalty from the artists, and they helped us build this business.”

The First Paid Show

“Extreme Pizza was the first client that hired us and gave us money. That was in 2012, really early on. We were doing a Summer Concert Series at Film Brothers, and asked them about hosting an afterparty. We did that once or twice and then, all of a sudden, it was, ‘Hey, why don't you guys just book every Friday?’ And today, even though it's now Chicky’s Pizza, we're still booking shows there.”

The First Sellout

“Our first sellout was the sixth of a singer-songwriter showcase we were doing. We had Jessica Latshaw booked, right before that video of her on the New York subway went completely viral. We sold maybe 125 tickets to a show at Film Brothers and we couldn't believe it. And these were all people who hadn't been to any of our shows. A lot of them became fans of our business that day.”

“Jessica is actually coming back as one of our headliners for Ladybug this year, and we could not be more excited.”

The First Ladybug Festival

“When I say we threw it together, I mean – We. Threw. It. Together. We had six weeks. We knew, hey, Firefly is coming up and everybody's buzzing about it. But there were also a lot of people, especially local musicians, who thought, number one, I can't afford to go to this, and number two, I can't play it. And we wanted to do something for them, on the Thursday before Firefly.”

“It was awesome to have 300-400 people on Market on the third Thursday in July, and see the businesses with music completely packed. Every single human being that attended was, like, please please please do this as frequently as possible.”

The First Fortify Festival

“We created the Fortify Festival after a meeting with the Fort DuPont Redevelopment Corporation, where they said, hey, here's this space and we want to create a music festival. Gayle came up with the amazing name, Fortify, and we had 600-800 people show up to the event last year.”

“It's happening again this year in August. We're got Funky Feat headlining, which is made up of several of the original members of Little Feat, on their 50th anniversary tour.”

The First National Act: Robert Randolph and the Family Band at Smyrna at Night

“We were in a position for a long time where we were trying to make a lot happen with a very limited budget. In Smyrna, for the first time, we had a budget that allowed us to get an incredible national act and make the stage look amazing. That was our opportunity to show that we can operate it at any level, eight years in.”

“The coolest part … Gayle and myself and Nathalie, one of our part-timers, basically spent 35 minutes hanging with Robert Randolph at the end of the night, shooting the you-know-what. That was surreal to me. I've been a massive fan going all the way back to the All Good Music Festival something like 12, 13 years ago.”

“You know, we always want to be a locally focused business, but there's a whole 'nother level of excitement for artists when they play on a night when you have a national act on board. Something like 10,000 people came out for that. When I think back on the early days when we were celebrating 300 people ... it's just mind blowing.”

The 2019 Ladybug: What to Expect

“I think everybody's expecting a quality event. That's the one thing we have delivered year after year with Ladybug. All the music is great, you're going to discover ton of artists you have not heard of yet. An insane amount. We have a 101 acts playing over two days. It's a 25 percent increase over last year.” [Editor’s note: The schedule is here!]

“On Thursday, it's just like it's always been, the traditional block party with the big main stage. On Friday, instead of shutting down the street, we have the ‘Bug Crawl,’ 65+ artists at 15 different locations that start playing at 4 o’clock and go up until midnight, places like Chicky’s Pizza, LoMa Coffee, Merchant Bar, Farmer and the Cow, the Christina Cultural Arts Center, the Delaware College of Art and Design. We know the little golf cart thing is going to be driving people all over the place.”

The Next Milestones

“We've got our first full-time employee, Lauren Kuhne, who is a longtime Ladybug Festival performer. She's been unbelievably valuable to us. And we've got five or six different part timers who are working with us. It's crazy how much we've grown, even just since the beginning of this year.”

#GableMusicVentures #JeremyHebbel #GayleDillman #NewMarketWilm #experience #meet #DowntownWilmington #WilmingtonDelaware #MarketStreetWilmington #LadybugFestival

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