Backbeat: The Man Who Makes Aloe Blacc's Train Run On Time
Backbeat: The Man Who Makes Aloe Blacc's Train Run On Time

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Newsboy Cap Soul: Aloe Blacc brings the soul and habadashery to NYC's Highline Ballroom

Sometimes it's the little guy behind the scenes -- or in this case the not so little guy running between the soundboard, the dressing room and the backline -- who makes the trains run on time. But it wasn't transport Wednesday night at NYC's Highline Ballroom that was so impressive, but an electrifying performance by Aloe Blacc, a preternaturally talented rapper-turned-soul-singer backed by a six-person band and an indefatigable Welsh road manager named Pablo McCart.

"He's the best," Blacc says of McCart who has run his tour since March 2010 and who he intends to keep with him for the duration of this near-continuous excursion slated to last though next summer.

Blacc stands at the merch table following his set signing autographs and taking pictures with exuberant fans. "I told Pablo the only way he could get off the tour is if he found someone just like himself," insinuating that it's never going to happen.

"I've been tour managing for the past 20 years," says McCart who has handled tours for the likes of Amy McDonald (his first tour), Mona (recently) and a singer named Adele after her "17" album. Now he works for Simon Fuller's XIX Management Company whose company manages Blacc. "I've never met him," the tour manager says, I work directly with Doug Bruce."

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Making the Trains Run On Time: Pablo McCart whose tour managed everyon from Aloe Blacc to Adele

There's roughly 5-600 people at tonight's show, all of whom seem to know every lyric to Blacc's acclaimed 2010 album "Good Things" (out here on Stones Throw - Peanut Butter Wolf's label) as the singer channels and name-checks Al Green, James Brown and Marvin Gaye. His album peaked at No. 10 on Billboard's Heatseekers Album chart and sold 38,000, according to SoundScan.

In Europe, however, Blacc plays before crowds of 5-6,000 or more. In the U.K., "Good Times" (on Sony) went gold and his addictive single "I Need a Dollar" (video below) sold 500,000 and earlier this year sat at No. 2 for four weeks. The record also topped charts in Belgium and France, went top ten in Germany and has helped Blacc land spots on the U.K.'s Glastonbury and V Festival.

Which helps explain why McCart must pack up the band tonight and get them to Germany where they play three shows on Saturday - two in Berlin and one in Stuttgart. Then he comes back for Austin City Limits, more European dates (which Tanqueray is sponsoring), Australia in December, a Jules Holland's New Years Show, and the West Coast U.S. dates.

"I'm on the road 250 to 300 nights a year " McCart says. "I'm not going to sleep tonight. I have to get the equipment out of here and the airport in the morning."

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Contemplative on the Banquette: Aloe Blacc the day after the show. (Photo: Walter Pinkney)
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Keeping It Real: Aloe Blacc meeting fans at the merch table after his electrifying performance.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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