Bag Of Donuts Takes Care Of Business With Dr. John, ‘SuperPop,’ Goldman Sachs
Dr. John performing with Bag of Donuts
Kurt Coste, Top Guns, Inc.
As New Orleans costumed cover band Bag of Donuts releases an original single and CD “SuperPop,” they credit their recent crescendo with learning about the music business through the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, producing a high definition music video and scoring a collaborative cameo with legendary Nite Tripper Dr. John.
“It’s a blessing to find things like this to do,” six-time Grammy Award winner Dr. John said about performing on and co-producing Bag of Donuts’ new single.
“SuperPop” was written by Eddie Zip, uncle to Bag of Donuts’ lead singer Bobby Hoerner and guitarist Jonathan Hoerner. Zip is also good friends with Dr. John.
“He couldn’t stop raving about ‘SuperPop’ when he heard it,” Zip said. “When I asked if he wanted to co-produce the single and perform on it too, he said, ‘I’d be honored.’”
“I thought it was a good idea,” Dr. John, a.k.a. Mac Rebennack, said. “Knowing Eddie all these years is a blessing, and to collaborate on his ‘SuperPop’ with Bag of Donuts, I felt it’s where I belonged. Yeah, you right, Eddie’s my partner and Bag of Donuts is his family.”
Bag of Donuts’ bassist, vocalist, bandleader and business manager Jerry Christopher, Jr. said the band’s dream of becoming a one-hit wonder is finally coming true..
“‘SuperPop’ was always on the back burner,” he said. “We knew we wanted to release an original single and produce a video, but we had no deadline and no plan. Getting involved in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses last year got everyone fired up.”
“We were worried about Bag of Donuts,” Andrea Picou, Lead Faculty of the Goldman Sachs program at Delgado Community College, said. “We didn’t know if Jerry could work with the band as a musician and work with the band like it was a business. But from the beginning, you could tell he wanted to be more than just a musician. He wanted to be a business owner.”
Picou said the free 10-week business program helps entrepreneurs think big by providing greater access to education, capital and business support services to create jobs and economic opportunity. To join, applicants need to have revenues totaling a minimum of $150,000 a year, at least 2 employees and at least 2 years in the marketplace.
When Christopher, Jr. participated in the Goldman Sachs program in 2015, Bag of Donuts started its own 401(k). Each band member is currently contributing $500 a month, or $6,000 a year, to the retirement plan.
“I learned to work on my business instead of just in my business,” Christopher, Jr. said. “We’re not just a cover band. We’re more like an entertainment experience. The program gave us the vision to rebrand and showed us how to ask for help. We built a team that’s going out there and getting this “SuperPop” single played on the radio.”
With a flair for kabuki make-up, extravagant costumes and fantastical, flamboyant performances, Bag of Donuts has billed itself as the “ultimate party band” playing hit songs from the 1960s to present day for the last 28 years.
By night, lead vocalist and percussionist Bobby Hoerner performs in face paint and rocks-out as a swashbuckling Zorro meets Queen’s Freddie Mercury hybrid, but by day he’s a Director of Social Services at a retirement community having earned a Master’s in Social Work from Tulane University in 1997. Guitarist and vocalist Jonathan Hoerner dresses as a Gene Simmons’ KISS doppelganger, but he’s a videographer and editor who co-produced the “SuperPop” video with Kurt Coste’s Top Guns Inc. video production company. Bassist and vocalist Christopher, Jr. jams onstage as a Joker in a fedora, but he’s also an insurance agent. Kevin George, on drums and sample pad, keeps the beat in a David Lee Roth circa 1986 “Eat ‘Em and Smile” get up. He’s also a fitness instructor.
“Everyone in the band has a day job,” Christopher, Jr., said. “We’re making a living, all our kids are in private school and we all live out in the suburbs. But after the Goldman Sachs program I realized the music business is less about music and more about the business.”
“I’ve never seen a musician go through the program,” Kevin Wilkins, who’s worked as a Goldman Sachs Operations and Marketing instructor for the last 3 years, said. “Bag of Donuts definitely stood out. Jerry manages the band like a well-oiled business.”
Wilkins, who is also the Founder and Managing Director of Trepwise, a growth catalyst consulting firm in New Orleans, touts the Goldman Sachs initiative as an “incredible accelerator boot camp” teaching leadership, finance, operations and marketing to help participants run and grow a company and chart its progress.
“Bag of Donuts now has strategies for marketing, branding, financing and modeling,” Wilkins said. “They are very talented and offer nostalgic entertainment in a contemporary innovative way. They’re in command of their story, and they sell it consistently and successfully. They walked out of Goldman Sachs with a clear road map to achieve the goals they want to achieve.”
“Goldman Sachs brought things into focus,” lead singer Bobby Hoerner said. “Jerry crystalized a 44-page business plan and created a dashboard that shows the gigs we played and are going to play, our strengths and weaknesses and what markets and targets we want to hit. We wrote a mission statement and figured out our goals, not for just now, but for 5 years from now.”
Hoerner, who sleeps in harmony knowing his band has a retirement plan in place, said many musicians get a bad rap if they refrain from the music and muse too much on the business.
“Some musicians don’t plan ahead or know where they are going,” Hoerner said. “The money gets lost, and they’re not effectively managed. Some think if you concentrate on the business, you’re not concentrating on the music, your instrument, your songwriting. But they call it the music business for a reason. Why shouldn’t musicians have a business model like every other successful business has?”
Christopher, Jr. said he’s in tune with new marketing strategies and is well versed tapping into the teenage market and booking more private events. Working with metrics to find how revenue would accumulate led the band to make better decisions, he said. He applauds the Goldman Sachs program for making him feel more confident in growing his business.
“We always had an entrepreneurial spirit when it came to the band,” Christopher, Jr. said, “and it’s taking us to the next level.”
Instrumental to the soul of the new project was Uncle Zip who not only arranged for Dr. John to hit the high notes on the band’s new single, he also coined the “SuperPop” genre.
“Bag of Donuts gives each cover its own twist and supes them up to fit their style,” said Zip, who penned his own hit with Sea Level’s “Shake a Leg” in 1977. “I said they play ‘SuperPop,’ and the name stuck.”
“When Zip shared ‘SuperPop,’ with Dr. John a little bit of magic happened,” Christopher, Jr. said.
“He wanted to get involved and be a part of it, and we knew this wasn’t an opportunity we could pass up,” Hoerner said of the fusion with Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Dr. John. “He’s a charming, one of a kind, unique personality dripping in what is quintessential New Orleans.”
The “SuperPop” CD, which channels the dynamic stage presence and frenetic energy of a Bag of Donuts performance into a studio recording, has 8 songs with 5 covers and 3 originals including the title track. Hoerner said it inspired an eye-popping, colorful, non-stop action music video for their single. “It’s ear candy and eye candy at the same time,” he said.
Bag of Donuts’ goal for the video is to get 100,000 views on YouTube by Halloween, Monday, October 31.
Extensive touring has earned Bag of Donuts a wide local and national following. They’ve performed their costumed spectacle of musicianship at more than 3,000 live concerts at festivals, wedding venues, private events and nightclubs, averaging 100 live gigs a year.
“One thing we want people to know is we are entertainers, and when you come see us perform you’ll have a really good time,” Hoerner said. “It’s escapism, and that doesn’t go out of style.”
Using social media platforms to share their music and new video with fans around the world is a priority, Christopher, Jr. said, but their commitment to the local community remains paramount. When the band hosted a soft release party for “SuperPop” in August, they raised money for the Community Foundation of Acadiana to assist with flood relief efforts.
Bag of Donuts will be appearing Friday, September 23, at the Sugar Cane Festival in New Iberia, on Saturday, September 24, at Gleason Gras, a fundraiser for New Orleans Saints star defensive back Steve Gleason to raise awareness for ALS and to support the Gleason Family Trust, later that night at the St. Angela Merici Catfish Festival in Metairie and Monday, September 26, at Champions Square before the New Orleans Saints take on the Atlanta Falcons at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Bag of Donuts
Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses
Top Guns, Inc.