Moving big music

| December 07, 2005

But, says Pollstar, the total tickets sold by the Top 100 tours was down by nearly 2 million over last year, and the Top 100 Tours’ gross was 17.2 percent or $152.2 million under last year’s $883.1 million.

Pollstar, the concert industry’s leading trade publication, provides music business professionals with worldwide concert tour schedules, ticket sales results, music industry contact directories, trade news and unique specialized data services.

Keeping It Light
The blockbuster acts that can fill football stadiums with spectacular shows still rely on the big rigs to get their shows from one night’s venue to the next, but mid-size and smaller acts are using big rigs less and less.

“You don’t always need semis if you have a compact show like we do,” says Greg Wright, road manager for Sammy Kershaw, the voice behind such hits as “Cadillac Style,” “Don’t Go Near the Water,” “National Working Woman’s Holiday” and “Queen of My Double Wide Trailer.”

“And with fuel prices being the way they are, there is a lot of incentive to downsize. Today even running two semis and two buses is something we want to avoid. We’ll run two tractor-trailers and two buses if the venues are big enough and the schedule calls for it, but we try to avoid it.”

The key to music acts traveling light, says Wright, is the availability of high-quality equipment that is easy to rent at local venues, coupled with the proliferation of lightweight, smaller equipment such as speakers and lights that can easy be hauled without a semi.

“It’s more feasible these days for us to put on a full show with less equipment, at least in terms of size and weight,” says Wright.

For example, at this year’s Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, headliners Kershaw and Terri Clark both arrived without trucks and still put on stunning shows.

Some smaller use one or two trucks, but even then the driver is largely confined to being in charge of transportation matters. “Today the drivers on most shows, big or small, are just drivers,” Wright says. “They don’t have the time to string guitars or set up stages; they have to sleep so they have enough hours to drive overnight to the next show.”

The only guy on a Sammy Kershaw tour who might do that is Kershaw himself, who has been known to get behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer and do the driving work himself.

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