Thursday, July 17, 2014


Dinner before the show at Chatham
Christian High School. They put us up overnight in a
mansion on the water. Literally, it was a mansion.
No, I'm serious! A mansion!
As the Band Manager for Anthem For Today, I was asked to talk about "the rider".  The rider is the second part of the contract.  The contract states the date, location, time, and band fee. The rider has specific requirements for lighting, or meals, or in case of an overnight show - the number of beds needed.

I've been a concert promoter many times. And I've been a Band Manager with four different bands. I've been on both sides.

As the radio guy, I remember hanging out with Manic Drive, who were then known as One Cross, at a small church in Central Ontario. The pastor of the church treated them very poorly. He wanted his youth to have a great night with One Cross but he was - a cheapskate. He gave them a cluttered office for a change room, complained that he had to provide dinner and complained about paying them! (I think it was $150 at that time!)  I clearly remember thinking - "You expect them to be awesome and you're going of your way to be unhospitable."  And if you know the Cavallo boys - they're the nicest guys in Christian music. I learned a lesson that day - just be nice. They came a long way for $150.

Principal Christine DeHaas at St. Joe's Catholic School in
Aurora. Total hospitality!
Oh boy, bands drive a crazy distance to play shows and along they way, they gobble down a burger and fries. They get to the venue and set-up their sound and lights - with probably no help from the promoter. And because they're in an unfamiliar city, they don't know where the restaurants are or how long it may take to eat, so they eat at the venue so the show starts on time. At the end of it, they'll get paid a silly amount of money "to cover gas".

Timmins - the church crew were fabulous loading us in! Helpful
crew made for a truly enjoyable event, even far from home.

With Anthem For Today, we've done about 50 shows together and I think we've had three lousy meals in total. It's hard to eat an unhealthy meal and blow your socks off with a rockin' show! I recall a gig where we were served boiled hot dogs for dinner!  Ewoooh!  I took the boys out for a proper meal after.

Most Anthem For Today shows require us to bring our own sound and lights, and crew. And, we like that because we know our system, and our crew knows the lighting cues. But sometimes the promoter provides the production and crew. A couple of times the production was embarrassing and the crew was asleep, but other times we been blessed to have pro-crews light up the stage for us!

This is an actual rider, initialed by the promoter. It is up-to-date and a good idea
as to what requirements we're requesting when booking a show.
In 18 months of shows only one promoter bawked at our rider. And because the rider requirements are really about host hospitality, we knew that this promoter was not going to be welcoming. We passed on the show.

Welland - the promoter provided a major A-class stage and light
crew! We felt like rock stars!  To date, it is the best stage we've played on!

This reminds me of the story about Van Halen and the brown M&Ms?  Van Halen was famous for asking the promoter to have a bowl of M&Ms in their dressing room, but they wanted the brown ones removed. Why?  Because when the contract/rider was signed and returned to the band, they would know if the promoter actually read the contract.  It wasn't about the diva-request - it was about reading the fine print and getting the job done.

When the promoter is ready and everything is running on time, everyone can relax. We spend time backstage doing a devotion together, or chatting about our goals, or writing new songs.

Dinner hall in Rodney - an over the top meal. Then, in our
dressing room the promoter surprised us with two baskets
stuffed with chocolate bars, chips and nerds!  Awesome!
Conversely, when you get a promoter who has worked with bands before, or better still, who has been in a band themselves, they take pride in their event and treat us like kings, and then everyone is happy!  The band and the promoter's team. You can feel God everywhere as both sides work to make the event awesome!

Backstage in Roblin before the conference - the band wrote
"Way Too Young", which we still refer to as "New Song".
AFT has had dozens of great road experiences, working with visionary, enthusiastic, hospitable promoters. Our bad experiences are extremely minimal. I wonder - did God filter out the bad experiences because 99% of our showdates are FUN FUN FUN!  We've made great connections and friendships and gotten fabulous references.

We love doing shows!  When the audience gets to its feet and rocks out with us, you want to capture the moment, forever! Like when AFT played "Trouble" at Emmanuel!

So next time you book a band for your conference or youth group, remember - the band may be traveling a long way, with only a Big Mac in their tummies, ready to work long hours and perform for you. 

Save the hot dog weiners for your puppy and show some hospitality to your guests. It isn't just expected - it's the polite thing.


  1. man some people are just so cheap. I'd love to feed and treat all of you to a fantastic, authentic, seven course Italian meal. true! antonella lisa lisanti

  2. So God only shows up when the promoter treats you well?
    That's an interesting point of view.


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