EIGHT DAYS ON THE ROAD – A look at the music business from behind the scenes
So many times I see updates from artists on the road, and I enjoy reading about all their adventures.
After many recent conversations with the fans, asking everything from “How do I get her booked at my favorite venue?” to “Do you need a place to stay the next time you’re here?” to “What’s her favorite song?,” I thought I’d offer a different slant, from behind the scenes…
I wear a lot of hats – manager, publicist, booking agent, merchandise coordinator, roadie, driver, songplugger, and whatever else I need to be in the moment. And I absolutely love every aspect of the business!
I just spent eight days on the road with EG Kight, and three of those days with Lisa Biales as well. I put over 1,400 miles on my car, and nearly 24 hours on the road, but I had a blast, and am looking forward to the next road trip!
For the fans who’ve asked how all this comes together, read on for details about the day-to-day workings of a road trip.
On Thursday, EG flew into Cincinnati from Georgia. On Friday, with printed maps in hand, and my trusty car navigation system, I drove from Nashville to Cincinnati, where EG and Lisa met up for their three Ohio shows.
Friday’s show was at TOM CARSON’S HOUSE CONCERT, in one of the coolest venues I’ve ever seen. Built in the 1800’s, it once housed a jail. The brick interior walls and hardwood floors provided some amazing acoustics, and EG and Lisa, together on stage as the Peach Pickin’ Mamas, sounded fabulous! The food and fellowship was heartwarming, and I had the BEST chicken soup I’ve EVER had! And it was gluten-free!
Here’s a video of the Peach Pickin’ Mamas that night.
The next night found us at the DOWNTOWNE LISTENING ROOM, in the historic Shillito building, which was Cincinnati’s first department store, built in 1832.
There were several different “chill bumps” moments during this show. During her opening set, Lisa sang a song written by her mother in 1947, but only recently discovered on an old 78 rpm. Lisa sang it a cappella, and it was absolutely breathtaking! Her set was fun and inspirational, all at the same time.
(Photo by Steve Broermann)
EG’s set included her unique mix of blues, jazz, country, and storytelling, and whatever else the audience requested. It’s a great venue, where the audience truly appreciates the artists, hence the name, the “Listening Room.” And we had so much fun that Scott and Diana, the organizers, suggested we make this an annual event! EG and Lisa are certainly on board with that idea!
(Photo by Steve Broermann)
And for those who know me well, I enjoy being behind the scenes. I don’t like being on stage, but something compelled me to ask Scott to let me say a few words before EG’s second set. I’d been watching the audience, as they listened to Lisa, then to EG, and I noticed that they were savoring every note of every song, and I was touched. I wanted to acknowledge them, and Scott and his wife, and thank them for giving the artists the respect they deserve. So I did just that. I told them how important it is, what they were doing for these artists. And I meant every word of it.
Sunday we drove to Oxford, OH for a show at the BIG SONG MUSIC HOUSE. Again, Lisa started with a couple of songs, and surprised everyone by playing the piano! I knew she played guitar, and bass, but I had no idea she tickled the keys as well! She doesn’t play piano much, but I’m going to encourage her to do it more often!
Then the amazingly talented 14-year-old Erin Coburn hit the stage with her music teacher, John Redell, and Lisa on bass, and she tore it up! She made playing the guitar look effortless, and I was simply stunned. Her stage presence, her skills on the guitar, and her original songs were reminiscent of a seasoned artist, and I was totally enthralled by her set.
After Erin’s short set, EG took the stage and again, her vocals and guitar playing, along with her storytelling, had the audience spellbound. They were so mesmerized that you could have heard a pin drop. I love to watch EG engage her audiences, as she often has them laughing one minute, and holding back the tears the next…
Toward the end of the night, EG invited Erin back up to jam. Not sure how a teenager would handle having a song she’s never played before thrown at her, no one knew what to expect. But with EG, Erin, Lisa, and John all on stage together, they sounded like a band who’s played together often! I can’t say enough about how impressive Erin is! We all need to keep an eye on her, because young people like her are the future of the blues!
After the Oxford show, EG and I headed to Nashville for a couple of days for meetings. Then we drove back up to Indianapolis for a show at the CONCERTS ON THE KNOLL. With the help of Andra Faye and Scott Ballantine, who live in Indy, EG had all the sound equipment she needed, already set up when we arrived.
I get to talk to the fans before and after the shows while working the merchandise table, and I’m often moved by their comments. In Indianapolis, Mary Jane said she first heard EG on XM radio, and asked “Why isn’t she a multi-million seller?”
I didn’t have time to explain the complete inner workings of the music business, but I did share how EG had an offer for a major record deal in Nashville years ago, but turned it down. So I simply summed it up with “She could be, if she’d wanted to sell her soul to the devil.”
Mary Jane understood, and said “This way she gets to do what she wants to do.” I replied with “That’s exactly right!”
Something that I’ve only seen a time or two in the business happened at the Indianapolis concert. Someone requested that EG sing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” EG doesn’t perform that song often, but she gave it a try, and put so much into it that when she was done, instead of thunderous applause, there was only silence. About 10 seconds later, the audience erupted into applause. It was as if those in attendance were in church, and were thanking EG for the song with quiet reverence…
Two days later, EG was on stage at the COUNTY LINE ORCHARD in Hobart, entertaining the throngs of families who came to pick fresh apples, buy fresh homemade donuts, visit the petting zoo, and lounge at the picnic tables, soaking in the music. Some of the children danced to the music, while others sat quietly, listening, on a beautiful fall day. There were a couple of women who drove in from Chicago, just to see EG. Joy and Iris seemed to be having a ball, shouting out song requests, and later having a nice visit with EG when she took a break.
Who knew that at the end of her show, as EG was visiting the goats, she would end up singing “If You’re Happy and You Know It” for the children who gathered around Peter, the Pumpkin Eating Dragon?!? I don’t remember the last time I saw EG laugh that hard!
The same night, Lisa was on stage in Greenville, Ohio, at the Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall, kicking off the season of the DARKE COUNTY CENTER FOR THE ARTS “Year of the Voice.” I wish I could have been there, as Lisa played to a full house, in the beautifully renovated theater. But as much as I want to, I can’t be in two places at once. Here’s video of Lisa and her band performing “Singing in My Soul” from that night.
I’ve been inundated with pages of suggestions from fans from every city on this tour, for other venues where EG and Lisa can perform. And I’m doing my best to research every single one of them!
It is an absolute joy to work with EG and Lisa. Whether they’re on stage at a festival, a house concert, or a theater, they are professional, and kind, and generous, and funny, and talented. They are both such sweet spirits, and I am truly blessed. I would travel with them more often, but there’s always so much work to catch up on in the office!
I want to personally thank all those who made this tour such a success:
Nancy and Steve Broermann – for picking EG up at the airport, and hauling us and the gear and merchandise to the show
Tom Carson, Mary and Sherry, Scott and Diana Skeaback, Marc Biales, Marg and Matthew Henry, Dana More, Ryan Richardson, Dave Richardson, Tom Collins, Sr., Kara Jane Etter, and Kelley Sullivan Wotherspoon – for hosting the venues and taking care of our every need
Andra Faye and Scott Ballentine – for letting EG borrow your sound equipment
Billy Wayne – for letting EG play with the kids and sing along with Peter the Pumpkin Eating Dragon
Nancy and Steve Broermann, Marc and Lisa Biales, and Marg and Matthew Henry – for housing and feeding us along the way
Kia – staff member at the Hilton Garden Inn for technical support when my laptop didn’t want to cooperate
Siri on EG’s cell phone – for getting us to the right place when I knew thatthe printed Mapquest map and my car GPS told us to go the wrong way
To get an artist onto the stage takes a lot of people, a lot of hard work, and often, many months of planning. And I help coordinate it all. Coming to the shows, and showing the artists some love is what the fans do. And they do it well!
So the next time you go out to see your favorite artist, send some love out to ALL the folks who made it happen.
And be sure to thank the folks who own and/or manage the venue. It’s a team effort, and we keep doing it because we love it!