30 Years After — Part Eight: Music’s Highest Honor

So the business of PR was a welcome transition into what was my sixteenth year working in music. Having done promo for big arena shows; a very-well known composer and comedy writer; as well as booking was very helpful in creating strategy over the next several years. The business of music is a big picture scenario. The more you know about how all the components work together, the better the tool box becomes when it comes time to pull rabbits out of hats.

Tingstad and Rumbel are a duo based out of Seattle that literally burst onto the scene with a debut CD in 1985 well before I had been introduced to their music. It was a holiday CD, titled The Gift which sold 11,000 copies in 10 weeks if I remember correctly. That CD went on to become a holiday classic in the New Age genre which was dominated by Windham Hill Records with their Winter Solstice Samplers, and Mannheim Steamroller’s ubiquitous Christmas music.

Eric Tingstad and Nancy Rumbel had a business model that no one had ever explored. They put two unlikely chamber music instruments together to see what would happen, and their sound was immediately embraced. Classical guitar, oboe and English horn had no template, no blueprint. There were no existing charts, no music, no instruction book for how to make it work. But they did it, which gave them several leverage points to work with.

They were the brand leaders — a peerless duo. They traveled all over the country, and played many halls and venues numerous times over their career — about 100 dates per year at the height of it all. They created strong relationships and long lists of friends in all the various niches that support musicians. While Eric and Nancy were under contract with Narada Records at this point in time, they functioned very much like indie artists with their own booking agent, arranged their radio promo, PR, produced their recordings, wrote nearly every tune they performed, were members and board members of arts councils, NARAS, and the whole kit and kaboodle.

We’d worked together off and on for a few years. Then one morning very early; in December as I recall, the phone rang and Nancy was talking very fast and apologetically said she was sorry to be calling so early, but they’d been nominated for a Grammy award in support of their latest CD, Acoustic Garden. Wow! News like that wakes you up in a big hurry!

Acoustic Garden was Tingstad and Rumbel’s 13th release, launched on August 13, and it had thirteen songs on the CD. As I’d worked on the PR for Acoustic Garden, I typed those numbers frequently and always had this feeling it meant something. I’d never said a word to anyone but continued to think every time I saw those numbers something special was going to happen with that release, and this was that something!

At this point, I knew next to nothing about how the Grammy process worked. By 8:00 o’clock that morning I was in a whole different world. I hung up the phone with someone and a wave of utter terror came over me. I had no idea what to do. A few more phone calls and I set out to teach myself how to handle this wonderful new problem.

This was not routine. This was a time to hurry up and connect the dots. There was a very small window of time for votes to be cast by the academy. With five nominees in the category, all of whom were strong contenders, strategy had never been more important. By 9:15 that evening, my husband mentioned I’d been working without a break for 14 hours. By 10:00 p.m. the reward was to see and hear that the news of their nomination was on many local TV stations in Seattle, was included in newscasts and music columns in many of the markets where Eric and Nancy had recently performed, and much more was in the works.

The Grammy Awards were held in Madison Square Garden that year on February 23, the day before my oldest daughter’s 12th birthday. In the back of my mind I continued to think I should go to the Grammys. It would be a little expensive for all of us to go, but I didn’t want my family to miss it if I went. So I just kept working until the voting process was over, deciding to decide later.

The week of the Grammys is exciting. Not as exciting as the nomination news which is very much like a bomb going off in your office, but exciting! It’s the biggest party the music industry throws every year and it’s big doin’s!

By this time, I’d let my intuition convince me to stay home and not go to New York. Both sides of the argument let me know I may regret the decision either way it went. But one thing kept me home: If Tingstad and Rumbel won, I’d have missed a huge opportunity to get as much publicity for them as I could. It wouldn’t really be possible to do everything necessary from New York.

So that Sunday afternoon I sat at my desk answering emails and waiting by the phone. New York is three hours ahead of west coast time, so the time difference cut down the wait considerably. What I wanted to do was be prepared, but I wouldn’t let myself type a press release that said they’d won. If I’d written a press release and they didn’t win, I’d convince myself I jinxed it. I know. Superstition really is silly. The decision in a vote by their peers had been finalized several weeks before this day had arrived.

Nancy called sometime mid-afternoon to let me know they’d won. The announcement came during the non-televised portion of the program and honestly, there was something that wouldn’t let me believe it. In fact, when Nancy called, I remember saying something like “oh my God, you’re kidding me.” What a dumb thing to say to someone who just just reached an apex in their career. In truth, I’d wanted this so much for all concerned I’d probably built up some emotional wall in case it didn’t happen.

But it did happen and within minutes that press release was written and being sent off to everyone I could think of. And for the next eight days I didn’t leave the house. Not once. Every media outlet in Seattle was interested in one way or another, and for quite some time, rock star status belonged to Eric and Nancy.

What a rush!

Eric Tingstad and Nancy Rumbel Photo credit: Tingstad and Rumbel

Eric Tingstad and Nancy Rumbel Photo credit: Tingstad and Rumbel

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30 Years After: Part 7 — The Gift

30 Years After – Part 7: The Gift

Life has a way of interrupting our best intentions. Sorry for the lapse in time since the last post. Life is unavoidable –ya know?

Where I left off, PR was becoming the focus of my journey through the world and business of music. In 1999 I decided to end my duties as a booking agent. I was at a crossroads really: Should I have a more conventional career aspiration, or dive off the deep end into public relations on behalf of regional artists? Taking some time away from the whole thing proved interesting. There was suddenly time to do things without the piles of music stuff clogging part of the house. And yet, the absence of the art continually nagged at the stillness. The phone wasn’t ringing as much, though a few business calls continued to come in. Packages weren’t arriving on a regular basis as they had before.

This brief period of time was a life lesson. Once anyone has been involved in creative work for a period of time, you simply cannot ‘not’ do it. It’s in you, and that’s that. No amount of self-talk or cold turkey withdrawal will satisfy the pull back into the creative circle. Too, the relationships working with people in the regional industry were as much working relationships as they were friendships.

One day during the summer of 1999 at a local eatery the song “San Francisco” was playing on a juke box. A friend was kiddingly arguing about the origin of the song. I was adamant it was Scott McKenzie who made the tune a classic while the friend swore up and down it was John Phillips of the Mamas and Papas. So I made a bet. If I was right, I’d resume my career in music. Turns out we were both right. Phillips wrote it, but it was McKenzie who recorded it, making it one of the most recognized songs of the 20th century.

So I bought every text book recommended at the University of Washington on communications and public relations, and dove right in. It’s a much more complicated subject than you might imagine and it took several months of constant study to get through the process.

And then, I got a phone call from a booking agent one day asking about the concert series I’d started with the city. It wasn’t long before the conversation steered toward PR, and “did I know anyone who might want to work with her client, Tingstad & Rumbel?”

What a gift. [Thank you, Carol!]

Within a couple of months I began working with Eric Tingstad and Nancy Rumbel – a working relationship and friendship that continue to this day. What’s more, I don’t think I could have found a better client to work with in the beginning. There are a number of reasons why, and some of them will be highlights of subsequent posts.

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30 Years After – Part 6: The Booking Playbook

Being the head of a small, somewhat unorthodox booking agency was my life from 1995 to 2000. Many things transpired over that period that would make a big difference as my career continued to unfold.

It’s pretty hard to believe as of this writing when musicians are literally begging to find booking agents — 20 years ago, many people owned small booking agencies, and the number of performing/recording artists was easily ten times less than we experience today.

Performing arts centers were popping up everywhere in the Pacific Northwest.  The northwest is mostly rural and musicians with even minimal name recognition could bring audiences to venues who were taking advantage of regional talent. It seemed a perfect and level playing field where everyone was working to build community from one small town to the next.

After a time, the venues discovered if they could attract much bigger names to their small town, they would sell out performances. Venues were taking a risk paying considerably higher fees potentially netting handsome profits.

It didn’t take long and bigger names were filling halls all over the region. Top-name regional artists were left with fewer dates when it was their influence that helped build the arts scene in every regional little hamlet, town, and city.

Booking agents began disappearing in the late 1990s because their artists weren’t a big enough draw to keep venues interested.

My little agency wasn’t doing badly, but it could have been better. I knew that the venues weren’t promoting artists as well as they could. And they didn’t really have to when they had big names on their season series.

From the start I had looked for a PR agent in the Seattle area to work with. There were tons of publicists but they were all working for Microsoft, Amazon, and companies with a technical slant. I had media contacts from my stint in the rock scene,  but my clients weren’t of interest to pop and rock journalists.

Doing what I could, being booking agent and publicist was pushing the envelope pretty hard. The media contacts who would work with me couldn’t possibly write about every  performance we had locally or regionally.

Even still, it was obvious PR held more potential than booking. Though they’re pretty similar, the big difference was music journalists had years of experience, while venues were run by  people who knew very little about music.

Part of what colored my opinion about booking was I’d joined forces with the small town where I lived helping to establish their first-ever outdoor concert series in a beautiful park.  The city employee I worked with decided to quit her job midway into the process, so the whole thing was handed over to me to administer under the tutelage of the city administrator who was convinced a summer series of six shows should cost $500.

At the time I had adequate funds to cover the balance for what the city budgeted. Under that agreement, I held the city’s feet to the fire and told them if they wanted to start an annual series they had to book quality artists and pay them accordingly, which they agreed to.

Gathering a bunch of civic-minded people, we all met to select our first series from a small group of submissions.  In that group of artists were some really great shows and the first contract issued went to Japanese taiko drummers.

There was a flurry of preparations, checks and balances with the city. The park was situated right beside a train rail which was going to be a problem. Amtrak and Burlington Northern had several runs daily, but I didn’t know when or exactly how many.  So I called Burlington Northern thinking I could somehow find a solution.

“All I want to know is what the train schedule is so we can plan  an outdoor concert series around it, ” I explained. “Ma’am we’re Burlington Northern and we come through that town several times a day.”

“All I need is a general schedule to avoid the train whistles disrupting performances.”

“Ma’am, 60 trains a day come through your area. We cannot say with any accuracy when train whistles will blow at that crossing.”

Sixty a day? We’d just have to deal with it.

Another obvious obstacle in Washington state — the weather is highly unpredictable.  An old joke truthfully reflects summer starts on July 5 in the northwest. Six concerts were planned for every Friday night after July 5. Posters were designed and distributed for storefronts, press releases went out on a regular basis to communities within a 50-mile radius, and local businesses were contacted to participate. It was a virtual firestorm of PR, launching a new series with a diverse lineup of family entertainment. Much harder to achieve than an arena show.

Though centuries old, taiko emerged after the second World War. Taiko has mythological origins in Japanese folklore whose purpose was  ceremonial in religious rituals or events calling the community together. It’s important to note after World War II, a Japanese internment camp  existed just 10 minutes away from where the concert was being held.

The taiko drummers would be an excellent opener. A 12-member ensemble with traditional hand-crafted instruments intolerant of rain. As a precaution a large tent was erected, and just a few hours before the concert began, a torrential downpour jeopardized the beginning of an annual series that continues to this day.

The drummers were at my house trying to decide if they should play or not. They’d travelled quite a distance and if they didn’t play they wouldn’t get paid according to the contract. I was certain no one would come to an outdoor show in sloppy weather, and secretly hoped we might cancel with an agreement to reschedule. But no. They decided the show would go on.

As the taiko performance began, a crowd silently gathered around the fringe of the park under a mass of umbrellas. With rain pounding all around me I was amazed to see dozens of Japanese Americans respectfully stand, listening to instruments native to their heritage calling the community together.

Honestly, it was something like a religious experience. And thankfully, not one train whistle blew disrupting the moment.

 

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30 Years After – Part 5: Music Older Than Dirt

Within a window of about 11 years, I’d worked with and alongside some of pop culture’s biggest names, then some even bigger names over on the concert circuit at the height of arena shows. I’d accidentally run into a few grungy kids who were about to become household names, then settled into a nice comfy spot promoting old music.

Old as dirt.

The dead guys’ stuff from way back before the earth cooled.

Yep, I was high rollin’ in the music dough. The high brow stuff with blue blood and bow ties, at high tea during silent auctions learning all I could about the guys that got this gig rolling in the first place with names like Ludwig, Wolfgang, Johannes, Franz, and Camille.

Still teaching piano lessons and working the Community Concert circuit, finding my way into a world everyone knows a little bit about but doesn’t give a damn. The opera, the symphony — the recital hall trenches.

Very nice folk.

Proper and icy.

It’s the academic side of music that’s only interesting in academia. The professors, their prodigies, and corporate types who needed an easy slot for their tax write offs. It’s the kind of environment where everything must be perfect. The notes were written down hundreds of years ago — and every string player, horn and reed section player from here to eternity — each with an ego as big as Rhode Island — has memorized them all at some time or another. And don’t forget the guy with right arm disease — the conductor. The guy who rolls out austere criticism much like Steve Jobs unveiled a new Mac.

It’s a very bitchy world, indeed.

It snaps, cackles, and pops with every step toward the front of the room.

No one, but no one, believes they can be replaced in that world. But the truth is, people have been replaced repeatedly over centuries, every time a  flautist, French horn player or the like dies.

One of my longest acquaintances in this field had a humorous view of it all, remarking, “You have to wonder about people who’ve done absolutely nothing with their lives except play one instrument. It really makes you wonder about their self-esteem.”

Now that you have a good idea of the profile within this community of stiff, starched, and tightly strung — now consider accepting the most thankless job in the world in this environment. Being the booking agent for a concert pianist, trumpet player, and a clarinet soloist. These are people who hold their art in the highest regard while the rest of the world is digging Eric Clapton, Annie Lennox, 10,000 Maniacs, Garth Brooks, and Shania Twain.

Young and eager with time on my hands I got a call one day from a woman I had a very loose association with one state away who said, “I can’t do this any more. If you don’t take it over, I don’t know who will help these people.”

Mind you we’re still talking the last part of the twentieth-century at this point. I had a few contacts I could engage in this new enterprise, continue to teach piano lessons, and raise two high-spirited intelligent little girls. I can’t was not in my vocabulary, and getting 15% of a recital hall fee 18 to 24 months after the actual contract was issued seemed very civilized.

Motivated by nothing but fear, I increased the business of this tiny booking agency by 400% in the first year.  Then I expanded the roster to include different styles of music — some was even older than the classical stuff.  Celtic music was on the rise and Great Scot the Irish rock!

With every new artist added to the roster, I introduced them to my graphic designer, wrote new copy, had new photos taken, and got their story rolling in the right direction. The idea of branding was the new buzz word and building the myth behind a brand was the talk of the music world.

Networking, email, desktop publishing, booking conferences, newsletters, monthly mailings, world music — these were all the rage fueling the music machine just a few years before Napster took hold, and Michael Jackson claimed his music was healing.

Well, if this part of the story didn’t put you to sleep, save a few minutes for the next entry — things do pick up a bit!

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30 Years After – Part 4: Welcome to Pleasantville

Up to this point in my short career, I’d worked with some of the most iconic figures in contemporary culture and found my way through some of the roughest parts of the business. It’s important to understand that even though many people envy the idea of working in music there is very little that’s nice about it. It’s a backstabbing, disappointing world fraught with more ego and greed than you’d equate with the idea of music.

Once in a while you come across something nice– even civilized — maybe too civilized to be appreciated by masses of people who swear they love all kinds of music.

By the early 1990s I was married and had two beautiful little girls. Julia and Reanne kept me quite busy in their little girl world having tea parties, playing dress up, reading, writing, drawing, singing, watching Sesame Street — and yes, I’m afraid we watched Barney too.

To add to the bottom line of household income, I taught piano lessons and volunteered for a subscription-based concert series called Community Concerts, keeping all those skills I’d acquired fresh, applying them to the local arts scene.

Community Concerts was developed during The Great Depression allowing performing artists a way to keep working on a circuit of shows bringing live music and performance to small communities for very little money.  The tradition of the performing arts series was kept alive nearly 100 years, and many very talented people traveled through small towns like the Seattle bedroom community where I lived.

John Raitt — Bonnie Raitt’s father — a brilliant musical stage actor was among the most memorable concerts we presented. I remember him very well as an articulate, handsome, humorous man. When I went to the media with the idea of doing a feature it was ignored. I called the arts and entertainment editor of the Tacoma News Tribune explaining John Raitt was a Broadway legend, and for crying out loud “this is Bonnie Raitt’s dad – who, by the way, was soon being inducted into the Broadway Hall of Fame. He made his Broadway debut playing Billy Bigelow in the Rodgers and Hammerstein masterpiece Carousel,  and was in all the major musicals, and was one of the original cast members in Oklahoma.

Talking into the phone, I may as well have been talking to myself.  Dead air on the other end. When I’d finished my pitch, the editor, who I later learned was really a sports editor put on the A & E desk, said to me, “If you were pitching Bonnie Raitt, we’d do a feature. We’re not interested in her father.”

Lesson learned. The only way to get the kind of feature I was looking for was to have a name everyone would recognize, not somebody only your grandparents might remember from back in the day. At least that was the media’s position. They did not understand Community Concerts was based on the idea entertainment could be about family. It could be about grandparents taking their kids and grandkids to see someone they grew up thinking was a rock star, or a heart throb.

Not many people came to see John Raitt, and it’s a shame. He was incredible onstage. Bigger than life, his voice could melt butter. The man was a contemporary of Julie Andrews, Robert Goulet, Richard Burton, and Roddy McDowell — he was that kind of legendary. I was very sorry to hear he’d passed away in 2005, but very thankful I got to meet him and share a little time.

The media did sit up and listen a little bit to a community outreach concert we presented featuring The Seattle Symphony, conducted by Gerard Schwarz. It was a very stiff, corporate ordeal to get the symphony down to our little town even though it was part of the orchestra’s mission to travel short distances to “less privileged” communities than Seattle — thank you very much.

Everything was controlled by the symphony office. All my press releases had to be approved before sending, and [sniff] “the word orchestra does not appear in our name. The word symphony should suffice.” The woman might as well have said, “the heathens in your community should at least know that much.”

Lesson learned. Quality organizations demand quality at all levels. Value in music begets value, and a memorable experience. Nonetheless, it was the first and only sold out performance in our 842-seat performing arts center.

Julia, my oldest daughter, was 5 years old at the time and sat in the front row mesmerized during the entire performance of Beethoven’s Fifth. When I took her backstage to meet Maestro Schwarz, whom I’d met at his home a few years earlier, Julia was a vision of absolute perfection, and Maestro was very kind taking her hand in both of his, and thanked her very kindly for coming.

Through this era of my career, raising children and working around their schedule rather than someone else’s, it went perfectly with the timeless traditions of music from Broadway and the symphony. And though I didn’t know it at the time, it was opening the door to something just a little bit bigger.

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30 Years After – Part 3: A Little Grungy

So all was well. Even though my short little romp into rock ‘n roll hadn’t ended all that well, I was happy to be off that roller coaster. It gave me a little time to figure out what should happen next.

But I didn’t have a clue. My phone kept ringing, so that was a good sign. One of the groupie types that hung around my previous job had started working for a small – really small company who was presenting shows at clubs. They called me often to find the answers to any number of questions, so one day I just said why don’t you hire me as a consultant.

The owners who were more than a little rough around the edges said okay, so I’d go to this funky little office every day for not much money to help them with some of the stuff they needed help with.

There isn’t much memorable about this as it was such a rough and tumble outfit. They had no experience in the music biz, and worse, they didn’t  have the money to sustain their inexperience.

Let me say that again. They didn’t have the money to sustain their inexperience. Music is an expensive business to be in. You must have money to keep the boat afloat. And this little company was a bird’s eye view into what the future would bring with the indie movement. People with good intentions who wanted to work in music but no experience to back it up.

If they’d played their cards right, those folks would be legends right now, but they had no idea what they were looking at, and not enough capital to see them down the road.

All kinds of musicians would filter in and out of that office on a regular basis. Mostly members of no name bands, and their entourage of lots of girls in heavy makeup. Many of them were under 21 and couldn’t play in the clubs under the state laws, so they were looking for solutions.

They happened to be members of groups associated with or would later form the grunge movement including Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. Too bad I didn’t know who I was talking to at the time, but I didn’t.  They were looking for someone — anyone to take a chance on them, and it wasn’t my place to say one way or another what we could do for them.

It wasn’t too long into this little company’s future they ran out of money, stiffed me for a month’s pay, but illuminated yet another dark side of the music biz and what would come next.

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30 Years After: Part Two – Rock and Roll Is Risky Business

After a stint working with composer and television writer, Mason Williams in Oregon, I packed my Toyota truck with clothes, a filing cabinet, an electric typewriter and moved to Seattle to work for the largest concert promoter in the Pacific Northwest.  Finding this job was a fluke. By chance, one of the key administrative assistants was leaving her job after 10 years but I had to wait a few months until she  actually left. So I couch surfed with friends and took a crappy job at an insurance company until I could interview for the position.

This company, now long defunct, promoted rock and roll mostly in Seattle, but all over the western states in 63 venues to be exact. Large rock shows, even small ones,  were a far cry from what I’d done in my previous job, and it didn’t take long until I hated it.

Everyone in that company tiptoed. There were 12 employees and three partners.  Formerly arch enemies, the partners somehow  decided instead of fighting each other for Seattle’s share of dollars, they were better off working together. There was enough tension in that place every day to explode the three story building at any given moment.

Why? It was all about money. These guys weren’t educated bean counters. They were back street fighters with money. They weren’t there for the art of music. No, no. They were there for every thin dime they could extract from arena shows well before 360 Deals came into existence. These were the days when TicketMaster was making back room deals with promoters before they had a legal monopoly.

Long, long hours were put in for a small paycheck. Everyone was expected at their desk by 9:30 each morning no matter how late they’d worked the night before. Often I was downtown Seattle by myself at  1:00 or 2:00 in the morning after bands had cleared enormous amounts of gear onto tour buses heading out of town.

Part of my job was negotiating deals with vendors for happy hour situations for about 100 ticket buyers. I’d be given a blank check under a different company name to pay vendors who provided food and beverages to folks who’d pay quite a bit extra to slide in for drinks and a bite to eat and get front row seats for A List artists. A Listers’ management were not aware my boss was skimming money from the Golden Circle.

One day the company accountant was handing me a blank check and said, “You’d think they’d just give you the checkbook and let you handle all of this since you’ve made this company over $15,000 in just a few months.” I just looked at her and said is that gross or net profit? Without blinking an eye, she said, “it’s all profit, and you haven’t been offered a raise.”

But I digress.

Robert Palmer, Cheap Trick, Boston, The Bangles, Bruce Hornsby and The Range, Ozzy Osbourne, and the list goes on. These are the artists I promoted when I wasn’t hustling dollars to line the owners’ pockets. Make that unwittingly hustling to line the owner’s pockets.

People all over the country are familiar with The Gorge, lauded as the most popular outdoor venue in North America,  a venue my boss was responsible for creating along the Columbia River Gorge. When I worked these shows, the adjoining winery was allowed to sell concert goers full bottles of wine — two per person if I remember right — to take along with their “yuppie style” picnic baskets attending concerts in the middle of nowhere near the small town of George, Washington.

Trust me. Nothing so civilized as a yuppie with a picnic basket appeared at these events. This was a perception created to appease the county sheriff’s department who was vigilant about concert goers drinking and driving along rural roads.

It was so remote, my boss flew a skeleton crew of us from Seattle down to Oregon, then back up to The Gorge so we could oversee back-to-back arena shows a couple times a month throughout the summer. Carrying large amounts of cash from ticket sales, this was all risky business.

Among the shows we promoted in the third season at The Gorge were Amy Grant, Rod Stewart, Reba McEntire, John Hiatt, Robert Cray, and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s last Northwest appearance. The media was all over these shows. I rarely had to call anyone except the artist’s “people.”

One time a friend saw my address book with Rod Stewart’s publicist’s name and number. With disbelief, she said, “Is that like Rod Stewart Rod Stewart?” I just laughed, shaking my head.

The most afraid I’ve ever been happened at The Gorge during the John Hiatt, Robert Cray, Stevie Ray Vaughan show.

We’d flown in from Oregon with little sleep, and set up the ticket office in a flimsy booth on a knoll at the amphitheater’s rim. It was hot. People were shirtless, barefoot, and plastered. Scalpers stood in front of the ticket office making deals while we sat on somewhere between ten and fifteen thousand dollars cash.

At one point two guys started fighting with broken wine bottles ready to stab each other. Several fights broke out sans the bottles during the day, then while on my way to the little girl’s honeybucket a couple was openly having sex in front of God and everyone. And at any moment someone could easily have pushed that ticket booth right over the edge of the knoll to get a great deal of money.

But this was tame compared to what happened next.

John Hiatt opened the show before thousands of people — something like 15,000. Robert Cray cranked up the heat with tunes like “Right Next Door” and “Smoking Gun.”

I was standing backstage next to Robert Cray after his set, when the crowd rushed the stage trampling dozens of people just as Stevie Ray took the stage. The whole place exploded.

Mostly what I remember is mass chaos and all I wanted to do was leave. A friend had come to meet me, so we just got in the car and left to avoid massive congestion, but it still took 5 hours to get home.

Not long after that, my boss called me into his office one day and casually explained one of his buddies got into some trouble with a girlfriend. Apparently some drinking was involved and the girlfriend drove her car right through their living room. The police were called, and there was this report, which he handed to me.

“I want you to cut and paste this report. Just take out this sentence, make a copy and bring it back to me so [his millionaire friend] can give it to his insurance company.” Looking at the report, then back at my boss, all I remember saying is, “You want me to fix a police report. This guy doesn’t even work for you. Why do I need to do this?”

“Because I’m telling you to.”

I took the police report and sat in my office for about 5 minutes.

Ten minutes later I’d cleared out my desk, and told the receptionist I had an appointment and I never went back.

Yep. It’s only rock and roll. But it’s dirty business, and I don’t like it.

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