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Nashville People: Fabiano Dos Santos and One of the coolest jobs in downtown Nashville

With Nashville People we love to focus on the cool people and jobs around Nashville that aren’t actually artists. Today we meet Fabiano, who is one of the coolest people you could meet with one of the coolest jobs in Nashville. Fabiano is Artist Relations and VIP for TC Restaurant Group home of FGL House, Jason Aldean’s Roof Top Bar and Luke’s 32 Bar 

Nashville is home to some pretty cool artist bars and is the place to go to celebrate and party, whether you are celebrating an upcoming marriage, birthday or just celebrating your trip to Nashville, you want to make sure you have a good time. Nashville has an abundance of bars, but if you want to truly make a night special you want to go VIP.

We tracked down the amazingly busy, popular and all round nice guy Fabiano who looks after artist relations and VIP for some of the most popular bars downtown FGL HOUSE, Jason Aldean’s Roof Top Bar and Luke’s 32 Bridge, to find out what his job entails and how this young guy from Brazil is now one of the must have numbers to have in your phone in Nashville.

Tell us a bit about you and how you ended up in Nashville

The reason why I ended up in Nashville was because the pastor of the church I used to go to in Brazil was from Nashville.
I was looking for a place to go to school and Canada, London, and the US were the three places I was looking to go and then the pastor said to me you know, asked me, said “Hey why don’t you go to Nashville, I have some relatives there” and at the time the International English Institute which is no longer open, was where his wife went to school years ago and that’s how I ended up here.
I went to school in Texas, worked in New York, Massachusetts for a little while and then I came back to Nashville in 2006 I was in between jobs and trying to find out what I wanted to do and bartending, several places downtown, Acme, the Omni Hotel, that’s when I met the Field’s who you know built this whole empire of artists bars in Nashville, when I met them they said ‘We’re going to bring you to work for us, we’re going set you up to work for us” and I never thought I was going to find myself working in a honky Tonk and years later they open up in crazytown, I came and worked with them and then they said “Hey we’re opening a bar with an artist, and we need an artist relations person”…

Bartending can be a great career

You have to be really good for sure. I actually won several competitions nationwide, the mixology thing kind of put me out there on the map. I’ve done so many TV shows here in Nashville and so many like cool events. Kacey Musgraves when she launched her vodka we did an event for her over at Acme and I got to talk to her and meet her for a long time, and we talked about drinks and they asked me how I got involved and I think the culinary background that I have, I went to chef school in Florence Italy for six months and never thought I was going to end up making drinks when I went to school, for a short time in my life to become a chef.

Tell us more about Artist Relations

I like to say I do the A&R of Lower Broadway, so basically I deal with all the artists, their wives, their friends, family, and anything in between. I mean the majority of my clients now are artists, athletes, and actors, and lately a lot of Hollywood actors who are international. I’ve become friends with several of them, this town has blown up in the past five years. So my job is basically taking care of anything and everything artist. That is my responsibility…because not everyone can deal with an artist, in a polite respectful way, without getting star struck and being able to do your job without letting the fame of that person get in the middle.

So I guess I’ve been around artists for so long I don’t get star struck and I guess that’s why they love me. And, several of my artists have offered for me to go on tour with them but I actually kind of like what I do. I like Nashville. I mean I wouldn’t mind going on tour one day but I think working and living in Nashville is a dream come true

I know it’s quite hard to look at yourself and say, but what do you think makes you good at this job? I mean I know what I think makes you good at this job but what do you think has made you successful?

That’s a tough question, because I’m not very good at talking about myself. But I mean I think the experience, working around people for many years. I think the fact that I did not know anything about country music until about 15 years ago, so I don’t let the ‘star’ impact at all.

I think the key thing for your job is personality, you’ve got to have a good personality to be able to get on with these guys and I think that shines through.

Well thank you, I like to think that. I like to think that I have a good personality, and I’m very outspoken and I don’t have a lot…I’m not afraid of talking to anybody. And it’s a fun job. It’s a unique job.

How about the VIP part of your job?

We are the…I am the pioneer of VIP Services in Nashville. We were the first ones in this town to bring the whole VIP experience to Lower Broadway. No one was doing it. When the Fields brought me over to Florida Georgia Line house to do artist relations for them, I saw those tables and I’m like ‘man you know we could be making some money out of this and bring to Nashville a unique experience and nobody has done it’ so that’s when I started like researching on the laws and what to do and what not to do and that’s when I was like “You know let’s do this, let’s bring a little bit of Vegas but without losing the character of Nashville you know like losing the roots. Let’s offer to people that are coming to town, a chance to feel special and feel VIP right here.”

A lot of people come to Nashville whether it’s for a bachelorette party or a big birthday so they want to do something that’s a bit out of the ordinary, a bit special.

We make it special, I have an artist that came up to me one day and she said, (she’s a big artist), and she said “Hey I love Vegas, I love going to Vegas, I always have table service everywhere I go, but I have to admit what you guys have got going on here, it’s not only very unique, you make everyone feel special.” They don’t want to go to another Vegas, if they want that experience they go to Vegas and go so what we’re doing here is we’re making them feel somewhat like a celebrity, in Nashville, at a bar.

Its cool for everyday people to get that experience too

Absolutely, and that’s what we bring to the table. We tell people, we offer people an experience like no other in Nashville. The VIP experience is not just like ‘oh we’re going to get a table and buy some bottles and have some fun’ no, we, from meeting them outside with the private security guard, rolling out the red carpet, and then bringing them in, having a body guard escorting them around, and to the bathroom and giving them access to the Green Room, that’s what makes them feel super special, there is no other place in town doing that

If somebody for their career wanted to become a VIP hostess or to do A&R, what would you look for in somebody if they were going to come and work for you?

I get an average of 20 to 30 emails a week with people asking about a job. I get a lot of interns, and I commend them for doing that, I have a lot of people from Belmont university going the musical major, these young girls and guys, hit me up on a weekly basis asking for a job and then they are asking ‘what do I have to do to qualify for this position?’ First thing I say you’ve got to have the personality, everybody and anyone can work in a bar,  but when you’re working VIP in a bar, when you’re waiting on celebrities, when you’re waiting on artists and high rollers, you’ve got to have that edge, personality, great smile and not afraid to talk and be willing to like work hard.

Yes, it may look very glamorous, it is a glamorous job, however, it’s a very tough job. Long hours, it pays off, don’t get me wrong, it pays really well. Some of my servers, my VIP Hosts they work two days a week and they bring in a couple of grand. So it’s a unique job for sure and it takes a lot of determination to be able to do this and a lot of these kids, they are still going to college, they are still pursuing their dream.

We have a lot of musicians and we have two aspiring country artists in our team and I don’t plan on them staying with us for the rest of their lives but this is like a stepping ground for them, they make a lot of connections and they meet a lot of people in the industry and I think that’s going to make something more for them.

What’s next for you? Do you see yourself staying here for a while or have you got aspirations? Would you like your own bar?

I’ve always thought about having my own bar, but Nashville has exploded. Real estate here as you probably know is really high, I wish I had the means to open my own bar but it takes a lot of money especially now, to open up a bar in Nashville.

I’m happy with what I’m doing. I see myself doing this for at least the next eight to ten years. This company has been great to me, they have literally taken great care of me, I get offers, I get job offers every week, every day if I’m being honest, but I’m happy where I’m at. I mean I want to keep doing this, I want to help this company grow, I want to help the TC Restaurant Group open up more bars with different artists.

You have a lot of people come into Nashville to see you, so where would you send somebody for the best cup of coffee in Nashville?

The best cup of coffee in Nashville, believe it or not is Mike’s Ice Cream on Second Avenue. Yes it has my favourite…Okay I remember, I almost cried when Mike’s Ice cream got taken over by Redneck Rivera, because it was always my favourite place to go for coffee and I have an expresso machine at home, I buy my beans, I bought the beans from Mike’s Ice Cream, so if you want the best cup of coffee, best ice cream in town, Mike’s Ice Cream, I’m not getting paid to endorse him by offering it, but it is the best place for coffee in town. 

When friends and family are in town what is the one thing you would recommend they must do? 

I got to say Broadway, I mean you can’t come to Nashville and not visit Broadway.  I highly recommend walking over the pedestrian bridge, you can actually get so close to the water and just sit down and enjoy the view, enjoy the beautiful skyline that Nashville has to offer. It’s definitely a great spot to just chill, soak it in, before the night starts. Great sunset views as well, and that bridge is just beautiful. It is a beautiful walk.

What’s your favourite time of year in Nashville?

You’re going to find it crazy to believe, but my favourite week to be in Nashville is CMA Fest week.

Are you mad!!

I am not mad but it is the week that I work the most but just seeing the amount of people that come to our town because of CMA Fest and it’s not because I’m the industry, I’ve been a big fan of CMA Fest week for years. I don’t ever leave town on CMA. Even before I got in this industry, I always stayed in town during CMA and I always request it off, but then again I used to be an artist liaison for CMA, so for nine years I worked for CMA as an artist liaison, doing fanfare, which AKA is CMA Fest, and I don’t know I just love CMA week.

Huge thanks to Fabiano for taking time out to chat to us, and we cannot wait to head back to see him and hang out in the bars.

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Annette Gibbons
Hi, I’m Annette, I have been a huge country music fan since the early 90s those were the days we were lucky enough to have CMT in the UK. I enjoy nothing more than listening to country music whilst having a cold beer (or a moonshine) with friends. I try to as many gigs as I can here in the UK and in the USA; I think of Nashville as my second home and I am lucky to have made some amazing friends in Tennessee. Think Country is something I am very proud of, I just want to share my love and passion of all things country music related with you all.
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