so if anyone ever paid their dues, putting in their time for a headlining slot, it’d be dan may at sellersville. as of this point, we’d shared the stage there with crystal gayle, bj thomas, richie furay, hal ketchum, suzy bogguss…suffice to say, we’d done our time on the front end of the bill by now, and the time had come to either sink or swim on our own.
this show got a little out of control, though, early on. once we’d booked the date, dan started piling musicians on – the band, by the time the dust settled, included myself, anthony newett, keith giosa, and joel bryant on guitars and keys, plus kurm and rob for the rhythm section, carlos on violin…i’m tellin’ ya, man – it was BIG. 🙂
not that i don’t understand what he was going for…it was an important show to him, and he wanted to cover a lot of the songs from the new record, and those songs aren’t exactly short on parts. so, yeah – i get it. but it was quite a mouthful, logistically. the thing that becomes challenging when you have that many people onboard is breaking up the parts and assigning them amongst the players…when there’s only one or two, then the hooks are usually pretty apparent and – for a good player – it’s usually obvious what part should get your attention. when there are that many folks onboard, then confusion sets in…and then it becomes someone’s job to take the reins and make sure everyone knows what’s expected of them. for this gig, even with all these folks onboard – that never really happened. thankfully, the players onboard were of a high enough caliber that we were all ultimately able to figure out who should be playing what, and we actually managed to pull together a pretty tight show, once the rehearsals were underway.
one of the reasons for the excess personnel for this show was that dan really wanted to concentrate on material from his most recent record, the long road home…and a lot of the material on that record was both musically complex and heavily layered. while we’d been doing a few songs from the record with the core band for some time, a lot of the material didn’t translate as well with a single guitar and one keyboardist…and as such, we had only been incorporating a couple of songs from the record in the time since it had come out. since this show was a headlining gig in a great room, the mindset was that we wanted to make it the best show we could possibly make it – and that meant bringing on some extra players.
now, i don’t have an issue with augmenting the band – quite the opposite, actually – all the players we brought onboard were excellent players and good people as well. but the chaos that sets in when there’s no clear direction set forth. it wasn’t dan’s fault, as it’s not a role he normally has to play…and – like i’d said earlier – by showtime, it had all worked itself out. to anthony’s credit, he assumed the musical director role to about as much of extent as anyone did, and it was a huge help.
so, on the day of the show, we were all a little worried about attendance. sellersville theater is a little over 300 seats, and we hadn’t hit a third of that yet. we lost a handful of folks due to the show falling on the weekend that poco played at wildwood springs lodge. now, you wouldn’t think that a show in a town outside st. louis, missouri would have any effect whatsoever on a show in southeastern pennsylvania…but it just so happens that we share a healthy number of fans with poco who actually make the trip to wildwood springs every year, and there were at least six among them who would’ve been at the show in sellersville if they hadn’t been on the same weekend. c’est la vie, i suppose.
so, yeah…we were a little worried. and yet, when the doors opened, we were all happy to see a line in the lobby. as it turned out – they told us after the show – we had the most walkups for this show that anyone could remember for any show in recent memory. it wasn’t a sellout, but we outdrew a number of national acts who’d played there around the same time.
this is somewhat indicative of the way that the business has changed over the years – people used to buy advance tickets to either ensure that they weren’t locked out by a sellout, or to try to get the best seat they possibly could. now, though, after years of ticketmaster and live nation, people’s attitudes have been amended by their collective ticket buying experiences to assume that the really good seats are never made available to them in the first place, so buying early for a good seat has become a pipe dream to a lot of concert goers – and people who used to worry about the show being sold out seem to have ceased to be concerned about this nowadays. they’ll wait until the last day, and if they don’t get in, they don’t get in…no biggie.
so, there was a lot of gratification in the fact that we had such a large walk-up for the show – and it certainly put a new face on our outlook before going onstage. 🙂