The man behind the music

Lost Horizon general manager and local scene-booster Scott Dixon now has 2,000 bookings to his name.

Scott Dixon walked onto The Lost Horizon’s stage on Saturday like it was any other night. Relaxed and clad in a black sweatshirt and shorts, he introduced the first act, Mike Roy, and casually mentioned that the local musician has played 43 shows for him.

Forty-three isn’t a lot of shows to Dixon -- he’s booked 2,000 over the course of his career.

"He’s the chief supporter of local musicians in the area. The music scene in Syracuse would not be the same without him.”
- Doug Brushell

Dixon, the 37-year-old general manager of The Lost Horizon, has become a staple of the local music community since starting out here 17 years ago. In fact, even after playing in multiple rock bands, managing big-name acts like Nada Surf and -- as Saturday's show celebrated -- booking 2,000 local shows, Dixon is best-known and respected for the support he has given Syracuse musicians.

Dixon draws attention to aspiring artists who need help getting started. He books local acts 65 to 70 percent of the time and does his best to set them up as openers for national acts that come through the city. Ulf Oesterle, an assistant music professor at Syracuse University and a former member of the band Merit, believes Dixon has been an essential part of the city’s music scene for years.

“In the 10 years I’ve been in Syracuse he has been the prominent person in the city booking shows, bringing in national acts and supporting local bands,” he said. “He helped to support my band and I know he loves to support the people who are making music in the area. He’s a member of the local music scene that is not leaving.”

Dixon's own career as an artist began nearly 20 years ago. In 1992 he started playing with SWAT, a band signed by Mercury Records, and he currently performs in a Rage Against the Machine tribute band called Township Rebellion. He uses his years of experience and his ear for talent to bring attention to local bands that he thinks are worth a listen.

“The biggest thing for me is to take bands from Syracuse and present them to people from Syracuse,” he said. “Everybody complains that nothing good ever happens or comes out of Syracuse but it’s like, okay, you can come out and support these bands. They’re better than the garbage that’s on the radio the rest of the day.”

From 2002 to 2006, Dixon ran a Clear Channel Radio station in Syracuse called "New Rock 105 The Dog" and used it to draw the city’s focus to local bands. Since leaving the station, he has found that the lack of an alternative rock radio station in the area causes a lot of problems. A large portion of the national acts he would love to book won’t come to Syracuse because there isn’t a market for them; at the same time, it's difficult for Dixon to bring in crowds to see local bands who are just starting up.

Launching local acts

Fortunately, he has found success booking young musicians despite the challenges he faces. The Scarlet Ending is one of Dixon’s favorite local bands because they are serious about making a career out of producing music. He has known the members of the band since they were in high school and is happy to see that they have persevered and have found success in Syracuse.

Kayleigh Goldsworthy, one of the vocalists in The Scarlet Ending, credits Dixon for the band's local following and success.

“He’s an amazing guy,” she said. “He’s one of the people that’s been by our side for a long time and I think he’s got a close enough group of friends that we’ll actually start to see the venue thing where people just come out to the show because of who put it on instead of who is playing.”

Doug Brushell has also worked with Dixon, promoting his son’s band Catastrophe Me over the past year.

“He’s the one that gave us our first shot,” he said. “He’s helped us play a ton of other shows in the area and he’s the chief supporter of local musicians in the area. The music scene in Syracuse would not be the same without him.”

After working in the music business in Syracuse for so long, Dixon knows what draws him to his profession. Besides helping local musicians find a niche in the city, he also loves the feeling he gets when he books a performer that wouldn’t normally make it to Syracuse.

In August, the Lost Horizon hosted a British performer named Frank Turner who usually plays 2,000-seat venues. Dixon was overjoyed to book such a big name act and although the loss on the show was staggering, Turner’s fantastic performance helped to alleviate some of Dixon’s disappointment.

“It was one of those bittersweet things because the show was so amazing and there were so few people here,” he said. “But to be able to leave here still feeling good because the show was that good is sort of the whole explanation of why I do this and why other people do this. The 70 people that showed up had the absolute time of their lives and everybody left here with a giant smile on their face. Even the artists were all stoked. Even though there wasn’t a ton of people they had that intimate connection with the people that were here that you don’t get at a lot of shows.”

Lost Horizon manager Scott Dixon hosts the venue's 2000th show on Saturday Sept. 19. (Photo by Aaron Katchen)

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