By Ali Mignone, Stage Manager for Strings Music Festival
The business side of music isn’t nearly as interesting as the performance side, but it’s a necessary evil. Contracts cover the financial and legal aspects of a performance, while the rider outlines the technical requirements along with the band’s everyday backstage needs like towels, soap, green tea and which salsa brand is preferred.
Contracts and riders are usually based on templates created by a lawyer. As you can imagine, this makes for some desperately dry reading. But once in a while, someone actually on the tour gets hold of the template and slips something in just to make sure we’re paying attention. Here are a couple of examples from this year’s Different Tempo riders at Strings:
- There are a lot of great systems out there and we’re not that picky, but we do still have standards.
- We are currently touring without our own engineer, so TAG! You’re it!
- Make sure you have enough short booms for the drums; tall booms make the drums look ugly.
No one ever asks me about contracts, because contracts are boring. But people do like to ask me about riders, because they showcase cringe-worthy artistic temperaments like nothing else. Any concert crew can tell you stories about an artist who wants M&Ms, but NO GREEN ONES OR ELSE. Or one who pitches a fit and refuses to play if the wrong brand of water is backstage. Or one who doesn’t want anyone but his own band to make eye contact with him because it makes him too nervous before a show.
But I haven’t seen this kind of behavior at Strings (if you see me at City Market, maybe I’ll tell you stories from another venue…) The riders for Different Tempo shows are, for the most part, reasonable requests by reasonable people. If there are some oddities, I’m happy to provide agreed-upon comfort treats to people who spend the majority of their lives on the road, away from family and friends and their own refrigerators. (Especially if it makes them sweet and docile for an entire 15-hour day.)
My favorite part of reading riders is trying to figure out what crummy thing happened that made it necessary to include a specific detail. For example, I wonder how many times you have to show up backstage to find a whole cantaloupe waiting for your breakfast with no way to get into it, before you start adding this detail to your rider:
- 1 cantaloupe (with knife and metal spoon to cut and clean it out with)
And I can only imagine the frustrating days that brought on these two gems:
- Four (4) qualified, able-bodied, continually sober stagehands
- Two (2) followspots with GOOD operators
Or this one:
- Especially in Germany, the opening band sometimes drinks all of the headliner’s beer…If this is going to be a problem, then add 36 more beers to the number quoted above.
Alcohol is a common theme, and there is much rider space devoted to the discussion of the amount of it, who is purchasing it, how much ice needs to accompany it, who is allowed to drink it, where it needs to be located and when it needs to be available for consumption by the band.
- Unless [the crew] is straight-edged, we might want to add a little more alcohol.
I think that tour manager meant “straight-laced,” but I get the picture: some days are nicer with a little more beer.
- Tuesday, July 5, 11am – We’re Not Clowns (Youth)
- Tuesday, July 5, 6:30pm – Coventry Quartet (free, at Casey’s Pond)
- Thursday, July 7, 12:15pm – Coventry Quartet (free, at the Botanic Park)
- Friday, July 8, 8pm – Tommy Emmanuel (solo guitar)
- Saturday, July 9, 10am – Yoga and Classical Music (free, in Strings Music Festival Park)
- Saturday, July 9, 7pm – Anderson & Roe (piano duo)
- Sunday, July 10, 4pm – Cuentos: Tales from the Latino World (Family)
- Sunday, July 10, 6:30pm – David Gonzalez (free, at Casey’s Pond)
Tickets available at (970) 879-5056 and www.stringsmusicfestival.com.
Ali Mignone stage manages for Strings Music Festival, among other things. When she’s not telling roadies and musicians what to do, you can find her hiking, biking or skiing around the Yampa Valley and blogging at thequirkyquill.com.