If you have ever spent an evening at the Variety Playhouse in Little Five Points, you have undoubtedly seen a tall, curly haired fellow named Brad Syna running around, doing a little bit of everything. The Variety is Atlanta's most popular midsized (1,200 capacity, counting seats and standing room) venue, with about 150 shows of all types throughout its annual schedule.
Syna has worked at the venue with owner and close friend Steve Harris for more than 11 years. "My official title is general manager/jack-of-all-trades," he says. "Nicely put, my unofficial role is chief instigator." He met Harris when both worked for WRFG-FM (89.3).
The broad range of noncommericial music is only part of the reason the Variety gets selected as CL's Best Live Venue year after year. Syna also cites "the friendly staff, amazing sound system, good selection of refreshments, and most importantly, being music fans, the diverse lineups we present!"
Syna's personal favorite Variety shows include Ben Harper, Wilco, Death Cab for Cutie, John Zorn's Masada, Henry Rollins, Trey Anastasio, Les Claypool, and the Jayhawks.
Every booker has a "wish list," and Syna keeps waiting for the magical moment when he sees Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan and U2 on the Variety Playhouse stage. Dream on.
Musicians are notorious for their peculiar tastes, and the strangest contract rider item Syna recalls is "a bottle of Patron and two bottles of Pedialyte for David Cross."
Harris and Syna work under the banner of Windstorm Productions, and over the years have added the Rialto Center, Fox Theatre, Red Light Café, and most recently the Five Spot to their available venues.