Editor's Note: For 10 entertainment industry students of Belmont University in Nashville, the summer of 2012 will include an experience they probably never dreamed they'd be getting school credit for: Being the road crew for a touring band (the Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie on the "Happy Together" tour), handling everything from loading gear to making sure the band gets paid.
The band's lead singer happens to be Belmont professor Mark Volman (a.k.a. Flo in Flo & Eddie), who recruited several students to act as the group's road crew. They'll be sending us edited blog posts and videos throughout the tour; to see much longer posts, head here.
Wayne Avers (back to photo) shares his experiences as a touring artist in the green room at the Plaza Live in Orlando, FL.
We are five shows into the tour and everyone is still standing. Buses have broken down, merchandise profits have gone unaccounted for and pranks have been pulled. Yet, somehow, the pun has not died: we're all very happy together.
The production team of Belmont of students have assimilated smoothly, taking their posts as stage hands, assistant road managers, lighting designers and merch handlers very seriously. "I worked with Earl, controlling the output of the onstage monitors," says Max Batchelor, entertainment industries studies, "in between sets, he allowed me to mute all of the monitors by myself. I also got to turn Mickey Dolenz's in-ear monitor on, and give him a thumbs up. I felt pretty cool doing that."
Attending daily classes with professor Mark "Flo" Volman and documenting daily learnings are also among the requisites of the tour. At each show, relevant guest speakers join the class and share their experiences as active participants in the touring business. "The guest speakers that Professor Volman brings in are very passionate about explaining what they've been through and how they got to where they are. Wayne Avers, Micky's guitarist, told us how he goes all day acting as a road manager/babysitter for Micky only to have seventy-five minutes to himself when he takes the stage and plays," says Lily Restenberger, entertainment industries major.
Last Sunday, the gang moved outdoors and played the Coca-Cola main stage at Riverbend Festival in Chattanooga, TN. "It was refreshing and interesting to see the differences between a show at an outdoor venue and a show at a theater. Perhaps the first and biggest difference is weather," says Karalyn Gillan, entertainment industry studies major. Towards the end of the evening at the Riverbend Festival the weather went south. "After the show ended it got really windy. We were counting money at merch and had to keep the money from blowing away in the wind," says Karalyn.
The touring party comprised of students, crew members, artists and musicians is moving towards cohesion. Crew members are adopting their additional roles as teachers graciously, and the artists are sharing meals and stories with the students openly. We're a diversely assembled touring family with a goal of providing entertainment. Next stop, Hollywood, Florida.