The Backstage Skinny

Most days I work behind a computer screen to help this concert promotion machine turn its gears but…every once in a while I end up at a show slicing an artist’s oranges or searching out underwear for their girlfriend (weird). In the spirit of New Years reflections here are some favorite experiences from my last two years of life at True Endeavors:

MJ’s Most This or That Rock Star List

Most Down to Earth Friendly Artist So Far: Leslie Feist. She showed up injured and had to be carried on stage (at the Orpheum no less!). We had people crying to get in to this sold out show yet she was helpful, personable, unassuming, and thankful- it was truly a breath of fresh air.

feist

Most Loquaciously Intellectual: Henry Rollins. Suffice to say I learned a lot in the time it takes to drive from the Barrymore to Trader Joes.

rollins

Most Handy With a Snake: The Bar-Kays. This original backing band of Otis Redding brought out a humongous, I mean absolutely huge, boa constrictor out on stage with them. This led me to the alarming realization that I in fact had been standing and sitting next to it the entire evening backstage. They kept it in a big black cloth bag from which it apparently does not voluntarily emerge.

barkays

Most Ridiculously & Endearingly Cute: Paolo Nutini. While chatting with this crooning pop star I began to wonder why he was so shy until he mentioned that he wasn’t even old enough to drive yet in his home country of Scotland. He then nearly ran us off the road as he shouted with excitement to see his name on the same kiosk as Toots and the Maytals.

Paolo Nutini

Most Huggable Like Your Grandfather: Dan Rather. We managed a conference for which he was a speaker. In the manic spin of lights, cameras, reporters, and assistants he remained completely calm and genuine. Probably the warmest, most reassuring handshake I’ve ever received.

dan-rather

Most Kid Friendly: Lyle Lovett. Went out of his way to hang out with my 8 yr. old backstage. Lyle later gave him a big grin and wave just as he walked out from the wings and on to the Overture stage to a cheering crowd.

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Most Charitable: Patti Smith. Patti signed a vintage guitar at her Barrymore show to help raise funds for the Center for Media and Democracy. She then bought it with a notably generous bid and proceeded to give the guitar back to the person who donated it in the first place. Now that’s true punk rock.

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Most Likely to Make Me Cry In The Good Way: Jesse Jackson. Another conference speaker- Despite his controversial cultural presence he moved a group of white intellectuals to chant, cheer, and weep like they were attending a Southern Baptist church service. He took the time after his speech to shake hands and get photos taken with every hotel kitchen employee behind that stage in Memphis. Amen.

jesse-jackson

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Most Likely to give the finger to her label: Nicole Atkins. This Rock N Roll meets cabaret darling snarled and cooed her way through the set, blowing our minds with her powerhouse vocals. The tiny thing then hopped off stage and asked to be taken to the grungiest dive bar we could find. Irreverent and comedic she recounted and ripped apart famous celebrities (ahem, “The Boss” not included) while her boyfriend managed to get in a bar brawl. Oh what a night.