Eric Gilbert sat at a lawn table in front of The Record Exchange just hours ahead of an April performance with his band--Finn Riggins--and Los Angeles post-rock duo El Ten Eleven. With his trimmed stubble, boyishly disheveled hair and plaid shirt, Gilbert looked like he could be any 30-something male in Boise. This is either apropos or ironic, since he's one of the most visible men in Boise's burgeoning downtown culture.
The frontman of arguably the headlining-est touring band to come out of Idaho since Built to Spill, Gilbert is also talent manager for Duck Club Presents and its spawn, Treefort Music Fest, and Duck Club Touring--as well as the host of Radio Boise program Antler Crafts. He's a man of many talents but a single passion: to tend Boise's music scene.
"I like helping bands and helping them come to our town," Gilbert said. "I've studied the art of putting on rock shows."
Gilbert began promoting Finn Riggins shows in 2006, and the band has since adhered to a rigorous recording and touring schedule. He has been no less prolific as a promoter of bands passing through the Gem State: Gilbert's former tour-booking project, Helibase Presents, evolved into Duck Club Touring after Treefort Music Fest 2012 and now represents 16 bands, including Eternal Tapestry, Wooden Indian Burial Ground, Tartufi, Aan and Finn Riggins itself.
When Gilbert joined Team Treefort, he was a widely touring musician and well-known (and busy) Boise music promoter; but when the festival made him responsible for a comet tail of ancillary shows, community rapport-building and financed promotional activities, he began to think about his vision for Boise's music culture as a member of an increasingly prominent group of promoters.
"It made sense to us to promote the scene as a whole," he said.
Increasingly, Gilbert's promotional activities extend to building Duck Club's image, and in many ways, he sees himself as at least partly responsible for the organization's branding. He plays an active part in crafting its social media, as well as for Treefort and Finn Riggins, and is a merchandise booth regular at associated shows.
"I'm uneasy about the term [branding], but I'm growing into it. I'm hoping to build a relationship with other bands and the public," he said.
Though Gilbert's stature in the community has grown in the wake of the success of Treefort, his mission remains the same as it was when he first began promoting music.
"My goal is to inspire local bands to stay here in town," he said.