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ISSUE 117 VOL 5 PUBLISHED 10/17/2003

Backstage with the concert committee

By Ian Anderson
Staff Writer

Friday, October 17, 2003

When word circulated throughout St. Olaf that the band headlining this year’s Fall Concert would be the Black Eyed Peas, many posed the question, “How on earth did they book a band that big?” “A lot of hard work,” said Mary Henry ‘06, chair of the concert committee. “The Black Eyed Peas just sort of fell into place. It’s very exciting to have a band come and play whose songs are on the radio and who is popular now.”

The concert committee is the primary vehicle through which shows are set up and bands are booked for the Pause or any other school-wide music event. “The concert committee gets the fun part of listening to demos -- I get to do the contracts and business things,” Henry said.

There are two ways the committee books bands: “Either they come to us, or we go to them,” Henry said. Bands that want to play at the Pause send the committee promo-packets consisting of a demo and pictures. Then the committee reviews the promo-packet and decides whether or not they would generate interest for students, and whether or not they would be appropriate at St. Olaf. Committee members also discuss local bands that the members have seen recently in the Twin Cities, or bands on tour. “The committee decides and then I go out and talk to the band or manager and book them,” Henry said.

The committee is comprised of 15-20 students, with the exact number varying between meetings. All the members are very interested in music and concerts. “I look for people who are really interested and excited,” Henry said. They meet every Monday night at 7:30 p.m. in the Pause’s Green Room for an hour. “Everyone has very different tastes in music, so it brings in a diverse range of music,” Henry said.

Although Henry wouldn’t disclose the concert committee’s budget, she did say that St. Olaf has been very kind about giving them the funds to accomplish what they want. “We’re a lot more fortunate than a lot of other schools,” Henry said. “They are very supportive.”

Each semester, the concert committee plans one big concert (like Fall or Spring Concert), one mid-sized concert (like Mason Jennings), and local and small shows every weekend. The smaller shows require far less planning and work than the fall or spring concerts. “I started planning for the fall concert in June; it’s a very long process,” Henry said.

Along with booking shows, the committee is also in charge of taking care of the bands while they are here. “I will be leading the setup for the green room,” said Brandi Dumonceaux ‘05, a member of the concert committee, “which means I will be preparing the rooms in which the bands will be staying as they get ready for their show. It really has a lot to do with hospitality, which is one of the things I love to work with. Making the band feel welcome is an extremely important determinant of how they will perform.”

Henry wouldn’t reveal the bands that the committee wants to play at next year’s fall concert. “I don’t want to disappoint anyone,” Henry said. “I don’t want to say a band and then not get them.”

Along with the intense planning for this past weekend’s concert, Henry puts in a lot of work every week. “I work over 20 hours a week, sometimes 40 on really big weekends,” Henry said, “which makes it really hard to balance out homework and social life – I hardly see my roommate. But I love my job—it’s almost my dream job.”

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