The move is set to take effect January 1, with Trefts replacing longtime Middle East booking agent and promoter Ned Wellbery of Leedz Edutainment. Wellbery is moving on to new opportunities but will continue to book and promote hip-hop shows at the Central Square club.
“I stepped down because I wanted to focus my attention on my hip-hop promotions company, Leedz Edutainment,” Wellbery says. “I also got some other good business deals on the table that are going to take up most of time. I loved being the Middle East Upstairs booking agent, but unfortunately there is only so many hours in the day. Jason became available and it felt like the right time to hand the keys over. I’ll still be doing all my hip-hop shows at the Middle East ’cause that’s my second home at the end of the day.”
The news of Trefts’ hire comes a few weeks after the Middle East owners Joseph and Nabil Sater secured the venue’s future by purchasing the building that houses their restaurant and live music complex at 472 to 480 Massachusetts Ave.
“Our decision to hire Jason full time in the role is partially tied to the news that we just bought our building,” Middle East general manager Clay Fernald tells Vanyaland. “Jason has a great reputation with local bands and in a short time has established his Illegally Blind community with events like the Fuzzstival to foster the local scene. This is the same kind of spirit that Billy Ruane, subsequent booking agents, and the Saters have built our rich history on.”
Fernald added: “The short answer is that he’s a great guy with great taste — an obvious person to help carry our torch into the future as a rare independently owned and operated music venue in town.”
In addition to curating local shows at various rock clubs around town, Trefts was most recently the booking agent at Church in Boston, and a few days ago announced the Tops, St. Nothing, and Mini Dresses show March 12 at Great Scott. The 2014 edition of his annual Fuzzstival, an all-day, multi-stage psych rock and noise-pop festival, was named one of the best shows of the year by our sister site, Do617.
He tells Vanyaland he will keep local music the focus at the 194-person capacity Upstairs room.
“The Middle East Upstairs has been an important part of local music for decades, and it’s where I cut my teeth both playing shows and promoting,” Trefts writes to Vanyaland in an email. “In addition, the staff is a big family and several friends of mine work there. All of those factors and more — Cambridge is my home, etc. — make it an ideal fit for me. I’m going to keep doing what I do — promoting local music and a sense of community. I work with venues around the city doing shows with Illegally Blind and am looking forward to continuing to help build that spirit of cooperation with people throughout local music.”