Marea Stamper, AKA The Black Madonna, will become the Chicago club's new music director.
Two years ago, Marea Stamper was named the new talent buyer for the long-running Chicago club, following the lengthy reign of previous booker Nate Seider. Under Stamper's leadership, the venue launched a number of new residencies focusing on local talent, as well as themed event series like Generators and the women-focused DAPHNE. But in that same two-year period, Stamper's DJ career—as The Black Madonna—took off in a big way, taking her around the world and leaving her less able to work at Smart Bar on a day-to-basis.
Stamper is moving into the newly-created, more general music director role, where she will oversee the club's long-term plans and direction. She'll be replaced by Jason Garden, AKA Olin, who is also a DJ and runs the Slack night at Smart Bar. He's already been working with her in booking the club over the past two years.
"Over the last two years, I’ve shared every step of this ride with Jason, who was one of my very best friends back when we were just dreaming of even playing at Smart Bar," Stamper told RA over email. "When I got my dream job here, I knew Jason had to come too, so he first became my assistant. He’s been integral from the beginning. And now a new chapter is starting for both of us. When I went to Joe Shanahan and we started looking at my touring schedule, I knew I needed to make a change, so that I didn’t go crazy or let anyone down.
I was really sad and scared at the thought that I might have to leave, but Joe just looked at me with a big smile and said, 'We’re not breaking up!' I was so relieved. It goes without saying that this place is much more than a job. There’s a lot of love here. So that’s when we created the new position of music director, which [will] continue to allow me to do the things I really care about here and also let Jason really shine as a buyer. He’s so gifted. I’m so excited for him and for the next chapter of the Smart Bar adventure."
For more on Stamper's time as the talent buyer at Smart Bar, check out our profile last year.