The most nerve-wracking times for me have always been when I have had to take what I do and step it up a notch.
When I started touring I was barely 22 years old and I was just happy to be doing shows. I don’t even think I got paid for that first tour. I built up enough overtime at the production company I was working for at the time to take an entire month of paid-time off. We hit a couple of slow weeks that August, and the owner told me that I had to take time off. At first I thought this was out of appreciation for how hard I busted my hump for him that summer, but in reality he probably just didn’t want me to be sitting on 160 hours of overtime.
So, I went out. It was an easy tour. I did sound and I drove my share. It was an east coast tour and I just loved looking out the window as I drove into the Maritimes.
Fast forward a couple of years, and I finally stepped up to tour managing. This was huge for me. I still remember my first show as a tour manager. It was in Barrie, Ontario. The club wasn’t great and the bill was sort of awkward. We were headlining but the support band was getting more radio support there than we are so the majority of the crowd wasn’t ours. The club owner as a result wanted to push the show back so more people were there to see them. I was being a bit of a pushover, because I really didn’t know my place or have the confidence to fight him on it. The band however, management included, pushed back and demanded I take care of it. And so I tried.
After talking to the club owner, his solution was to pour me a shot of tequila and said “Don’t worry man, it’s all good”. It wasn’t all good. Not at all.
Anyway, the show went on, and it came time to settle up. I had to chase the promoter for money, and he took me in a dark stairwell to give me the cash. I didn’t question how much I got either, which is the first rule of tour management. I got back to the dressing room, and gave the band the settlement, and realized that tour managing would be harder than I had originally thought.
After 3 years of solid tour managing, I’m now stepping up again to a point where the artists I work for are carrying lighting and sound production. This is another world all together. It means we have to roll in a bus with a trailer, have loaders, local crew, riggers in some cases, and I am responsible for all of it. There are often days where I wish I could clone myself, but unfortunately that isn’t possible. I’m working my ass off as a result, and I’m hoping that it eventually gets me to a point where I have a few more bodies in my corner and I can start to have work days that aren’t as chaotic. Until then, I’ll try to make time to relax and sit down, and hopefully a month on the road with only 5 days off won’t kill me.