hop·lite (hoplīt). n. a heavily armed foot soldier of ancient Greece. Free citizens, Hoplites were responsible for procuring their own armor and weapon. Many famous philosophers, artists and poets fought as hoplites, in a phalanx formation, with shields on their left arm, protecting themselves and the soldier to their left. A phalanx was only as strong as its weakest elements, so Hoplites had to trust their brothers in arms.
With a notable track record of success discovering and developing major artists, extensive relationships at all levels of the business, and the perspective gained from 30 years of work in the music industry as an agent, manager, promoter, writer and performer, Tom Baggott launched Hoplite on January 1, 2012. Baggott’s passionate advocacy for his artists and no-nonsense, straightforward approach to business established a company culture that values hard work, creativity and respect for the needs of buyers and artists alike, and Hoplite quickly became a top choice for up-and-coming talent and a great alternative for more established artists seeking more control over their careers in today’s tickets and t-shirts music business.
As an undergraduate at the University of Vermont in the late 1980’s, Baggott penned the first article to appear in the local band Phish’s press kit and was active in grass roots promotion for the soon-to-be leaders of a musical movement, including organizing the legendary bus trip from Burlington to Boston and selling almost 250 tickets for Phish’s first Paradise show (the band considers this sold out show to be a turning point in their career). A political activist, educator and organizer, Baggott was soon producing or co-presenting benefit concerts for a variety of causes ranging from Central America solidarity events to then mayor Bernie Sanders’ electoral campaigns. These concerts featured an array of local talent and national artists ranging from Public Enemy to Blues Traveler to The Wailers. He was also booking and managing the local and regional bands he performed in. Baggott moved into a full-time career in the music business with the launch of Major Tom Productions (MTP) in October of 1995. In addition to representing a regional roster of rock, pop, punk, and hardcore bands and the artists on Michael Chambers’ Ng Records label, Baggott signed a handful of artists who appealed to the community and culture that was developing around Phish, anticipating the demand and viability for what would soon be called the “jam band scene”. Among these bands was The Disco Biscuits. Following an expansion and a rebranding as thebookingagency.com (TBA), Baggott moved the company to Atlanta in 1999 and signed Sound Tribe Sector 9 for booking and management. In addition to representing a growing and ever-eclectic roster of artists from across the country, TBA was also the talent buyer and in-house promoter for Atlanta’s storied Center Stage and had an in-house advertising agency and college booking division. In early 2001, the company was split between its two principals due to philosophical differences (Baggott wanted to manage talent and represent a broad-based roster, whereas the other partner wanted to focus exclusively on the emerging jam scene). Following a brief stint in Boulder, Baggott returned to Vermont to work as an agent at Skyline Artists. The honor of representing legendary artists like Roger McGuinn, John Sebastian, Jesse Colin Young, Tom Rush, Johnny Winter, The Radiators, Wild Magnolias, Michelle Shocked, Victor Wooten and many others was clear and apparent to the music lover and historian in him, but Baggott missed the excitement of discovering and nurturing fresh, young talent. He left Skyline and formed TBArtists (TBA) in early 2003, with a new perspective on career trajectories that provided him with a holistic, strategic vision for sustainable career artist development. Among his successes at this time were artists such as Zach Deputy and Ryan Montbleau, both of whom he booked and managed. Baggott rebranded the company as Hoplite in January of 2012, and maintaining his track record of discovery and development, has put artists such as Dopapod, Turkuaz, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, BIG Something? and Atlas Road Crew on the map in the last few years.
The Hoplite team is lean and mean, but it covers a lot of ground, representing an eclectic roster of talent throughout North America. Cara Baggott handles administrative duties from Hoplite’s Burlington, VT headquarters, and the regional agents work from their own home offices. Steve Contreras came to Hoplite in 2015, with five years under his belt representing Midwest-based regional artists as an agent and manager, and promoting shows in Chicago, where he is currently based. Contreras represents Hoplite artists in the Midwest, Mountain, Midsouth, Southwest and Northwest regions of North America. Bret Peretz, originally from Florida, spent four years as an independent Southeast regional booking specialist, and during that time spent six months working out of Denver. He handles Southeastern booking for Hoplite clients, and assists Baggott in the Mid-Atlantic while working the Midsouth and Mountain for a few members of the Hoplite roster.