That Went Badly. Or Did It?

I’ve wanted to talk about this for a while now; the times when things don’t go your way with an artist. This is appropriate now as I am mopping up a rejection of sorts. I try to tone down naming names in my blog – products and artists – but for this to make sense I have to say it was a Sony DWX wireless microphone package for Bob Seger, a musical hero of mine who was embarking on a big juicy US tour.

For those who don’t know me, I bleed Detroit rock and roll so a little background is in order here. Anyone from the Detroit area knows the power of Bob Seger. NewJersey has Springsteen and Michigan has Seger. Years ago, my brother Scott and I worked on a local stage crew in Lansing, Michigan. We set up a fair amount of Bob Seger shows and it was always a kick. He had great band members and that voice was, in my mind, the voice of rock and roll. The sound company was almost always Dallas-based Showco and that was my first encounter with rock and roll Texans. I loved it.

I vividly recall one show where he came off stage after the last song and asked ME what he should sing for an encore. Rock stars don’t ask the crew guy what to do for an encore!  I was taken aback and blurted out “Cat Scratch Fever” which was a Ted Nugent song, not a Bob Seger song. He gave me one of those looks as if to say, “how the hell did you get here?” before bounding back on stage to do “Ramblin Gamblin Man.”

Seger, these days, doesn’t tour a lot so I knew this was going to be a long shot, but I was determined to get him gear to try. Through an admittedly thin relationship with his management, help from a contact in Colorado who works closely with one of the tour background singers, and a brash call to another tour that had the gear already and was passing through Detroit – “I don’t care, you have to leave it in Detroit. I’ll send a guy to St. Andrews Hall tonight to pick it up. Something’s come up…” You get the idea. I was on a mission.

I arranged to have the demo system delivered to the rehearsal facility, and a day or so later I had a call from Bruce Knight, Seger’s FOH mixer, introducing himself and asking me about the system. I gave him the story as best I could and he agreed to get the mic in front of Bob. Actually he agreed to attempt to get the mic in front of Bob. The schedule was nuts with Bruce bouncing back and forth from a few remaining dates with The Doobie Brothers and only two days to rehearse with Seger prior to the first show.

A few days later I received an email from Bruce saying that they didn’t have time to really dive into the Sony but thanks anyway. In the ensuing days, much to my delight, I had a couple of phone calls from Bruce where we talked shop. Some of these calls, I’m sure, were due to massive storms in the Northeast that altered his schedule mightily. In other words he had time on his hands. But what a great opportunity for me – we talked about rigging points, the wireless rigs that Bob is using, amp and guitar sounds that he’s getting with the lead guitar player, intros to their monitor mixer, and even why he uses a particular model of chair that Staples sells. I know more about this tour than I ever hoped I’d know. Oh, and we got the wheels turning for other opportunities with the Sony gear.