The High Times of Damon Bodine
Former UB student overcomes cancer on his rise in the music industry
Published: Sunday, April 1, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Thousands of people pass through Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal Mall every day – a crowd that includes elderly shoppers, high school gang members, and average tourists. A 28-year-old Jamestown, N.Y. native is a frequent member of this crowd.
He looks unimpressive at first glance to the typical passerby, as his scrawny physique and focus on his laptop while he’s at the mall’s Starbucks almost perfectly fits the nerd stereotype. The heuristic is only skin-deep, however, as this Starbucks regular’s influence spans over 400 miles.
Damon Bodine, a former UB student, thrived in UB’s wild party scene in the mid-’00s to to become one of Buffalo’s premier music promoters. Bodine became a talent buyer and concert promoter for Buffalo’s renowned promotions group, After Dark Entertainment, after years of using his love of music to become a successful promoter. But while he was at the top of his game, Bodine was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma early last year.
The promoter had to endure a tedious treatment process. But while some would see cancer as life-altering, Bodine saw it as an important sidestep. He wasn’t about to let the disease come in the way of his lifelong dream of making it big in New York City.
The PJ Bottom Era
There wasn’t much to look forward to in Jamestown. Bodine has always been interested in the fast-pace music business and the small town didn’t host such a scene. New York City, one of the fastest moving cities in America, had all the music business opportunities he was looking for.
“Since I was a kid, I had a dream of living in New York,” Bodine said. “I just figured that if you want to make something of yourself, you want to be in the place with the most opportunity.”
In fact, Bodine was so eager to make something of himself that he started hopping on Greyhound buses to the city at the young age of 13 even if he didn’t have a place to stay. Bodine said he would sleep on hospital floors and couches just for the sake of meeting people to get him started in the industry.
The frequent visits to New York continued throughout his teenage years, as he’d continue to make phone calls and email anyone he could to make his start. While he had some minor success as a promoter during those years, it wasn’t until Bodine started to attend UB that he started making strides.
Bodine came to UB as a journalism major, but the concentration quickly became a façade as his college career progressed. Instead, he was more interested in his burgeoning career as a promoter.
“School kind of went by the wayside,” Bodine said. “I saw UB as an opportunity to be that guy handing out 500 flyers at the lecture hall, meeting a ton of people, and things like that.”
Bodine was promoting in an era when UB was gaining notoriety for its party scene. Underage drinking was commonplace in the now-defunct PJ Bottoms, while University Heights was increasingly becoming dangerous due to the lack of UPD presence.
“There were no rules,”Bodine said. “There wasn’t so much of a police presence. You [could have] parties and no one would really care. University Heights was that area of Buffalo were it was kind of like ‘It is what it is.’”
The former UB student thrived during the chaos, and he developed enough of a business to start his own company, Center Stage Concerts. The company continued to book artists in the basements of University Heights and coffee shops. Bodine said many of those artists would sign to major record deals a few months after they played at one of his shows.