Telluride Magazine summer/fall 2016

Page 56


The Rider HOSPITALITY REQUIREMENTS OF BRINGING BIG BANDS TO A SMALL TOWN t all started with blue M&Ms. In the early 80s, the band Van Halen pioneered what has come to be known in the music business as “the rider.” The rider is a document that a band sends to promoters outlining its requirements for a concert. Van Halen had particularly specific power requirements as they were pushing the limits of sound systems at the time. In the middle of the sound specs in the rider, they specified how they wanted only blue M&Ms in the dressing room. They did this to see if the promoters were really paying attention to the details of their sound requirements. When Van Halen showed up to play the gig, if there were only blue M&Ms in the dressing room they knew they were in good hands. If a bowl full of multi colored chocolate treats greeted them, the crew knew it was going to be a long night. There are two kinds of riders, a technical rider detailing things like what the stage configuration should look like, how many amps are required by the band’s sound board, and which band member wants a fan blowing up at them. Then there is the hospitality rider which details things like how many crew members need to be fed, what food to put in the dressing room, what water

the band prefers and in the case of Jack White, a recipe on how to make his mother’s guacamole recipe (“be careful not to mush the avocadoes too much, he likes it chunky”). Kathleen Cole has worked in production for Telluride festivals for over 15 years. She also works for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Kole says sometimes she’ll get requests from bands that don’t seem to mesh with their image. In 2014, George Clinton and P Funk came to Telluride for The Telluride Brews and Blues Festival. So what did Clinton, the intrepid commander of the intergalactic funk mother ship request? “A case of pink Zinfandel,” Kole recalls. “I couldn’t remember the last time anyone asked for Pink Zinfandel, and P Funk wanted a whole case of it. So we got them their case of Zinfandel and sure enough they didn’t drink any of it. So I had a pink Zinfandel party at my house. “ Kole estimates that on average, about 50% of the things artists request for their dressing rooms on their rider go unused. “We bring the unused stuff to the crew guys on the buses.” The items that artists are most particular about are their beverages. “Because they sing, artists are very


specific about what brand of water, Kombucha, coffee, coconut water, wellness tea, apple cider vinegar, Whiskey or any number of other drinks they want. We try and get the riders as far out as possible because sometimes we have to get some of the more obscure items in Denver.” Kole has seen all kinds of strange requests over the years, but she cites the Benevento Russo duo’s request for belly dancers after their show at the 2004 Telluride Jazz Festival as the most bizarre. “We didn’t know what to make of the belly dancer request,” she said. “But we went looking for belly dancers and found two of them. Instead of saving them for after the show, we decided to send them out on to the stage in the middle of the band’s performance. The crowd went crazy and they loved it.” Jereb Carter was raised around the music production scene in Telluride. His first job in the music industry was working as a sound engineer at the Fly Me to the Moon Saloon at the age of 18. Carter has since traveled the world working myriad production jobs for bands like Snoop Dogg, Galactic, Stephen and Damian Marley, Slightly Stoopid, and of Monsters and Men to name a few. Carter worked as Production Director for The Telluride Jazz Festival and The Telluride Blues and

Blues Festival for over a decade. When asked about some of the stranger requests he’s seen in riders, he recalls two that involved bodily functions. “Joe Cocker used to have terrible stage fright and he wanted a trash can available on the side of the stage because he always threw up before he went on stage,” Carter says. “And ZZ Top asked that a portable camping toilet be placed close to the stage in case they had to use the bathroom in the middle of a show. Gumby [Festival Producer Steve Gumble] had it painted like the famous ZZ Top car. The band were always ready to bust into an extended drum solo or a guitar solo if nature called.” Carter knows firsthand about being on the road and how irritating it can be when you arrive for a gig and things aren’t the way they are supposed to be. But he says Telluride has a way of easing that pain. “Sometimes there are things that bands ask for that we just can’t provide,” Carter said. “But 90% of the time, bands get here, and they get a sense of how small of a town this is and the beauty of the place, and then they relax and stop worrying about what’s not in their dressing room and just soak in the vibe. The only water they notice is the waterfall coming down Ingram Falls.” \



By Geoff Hanson

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