Anchoring dates and touring shows: the logistics of musical tours


Door County has benefited from the performances of some phenomenal groups over the years including the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Taj Mahal, Willie Nelson, Bobby McFerrin, Loretta Lynn, Ben Folds and many other memorable and well-known artists. The ability to book artists of such caliber and fame in a relatively small area – on a peninsula, no less – comes from a little-known tour hack that most viewers have never heard of. speak: an “anchor date”. But more on that in a minute.

A concert offers spectators the opportunity to let themselves be carried away by the beauty of the music, to lose themselves in introspective reflections inspired by the lyrics or to dance after a hard day’s work. Musical performances are meant to give the audience a respite from “real life”, and if the musicians do their job well, the audience shouldn’t be thinking about the logistics behind the show.

While musicians love the time on stage and the ability to connect with audiences, the annoying truth is that booking and playing concerts is largely a matter of logistics – and even more so if artists are touring in groups. dates.

The logistics of the tour include things like finding a way to shake off the folds of the show shirt you accidentally found balled up at the bottom of your bag; calculate if you will have time to dine between the scale and the show, or if you should opt for a cereal bar instead; whether it makes more sense to book an Airbnb or hotel rooms; if the budget will allow you to take the whole group on tour or just a duo; and how to make the trip from Chicago to New York possible by finding shows there and back.

Now back to the concept of the anchor date, which is one of the key parts of planning a music tour. If you live in a relatively small location, the bands that come on tour are probably playing a “routing show,” which means they’re on their way to an anchor date: a big, well-paid gig that budget for. The whole tour makes sense and helps fill in any shortfall from little routing gigs along the way.

If you’re in a band from Chicago, for example, and have a festival deal in New York for $ 3,000, you might find a small show in Columbus, Ohio on the one way, and another in Pittsburgh on the return. . As long as you make enough money on these shows to cover accommodation and food, you are going to win overall. These routing broadcasts also allow you to interrupt the trip to New York and cover part of the travel costs associated with the trip.

Sometimes these show tours aren’t on an obvious path to a bigger show, but they’re close enough that the touring group usually stays on track. And that’s where concerts in places like Door County often come into play.

Talent buyers like Door Community Auditorium (DCA) executive director Cari Lewis are using this to their advantage. Over the past 10 years, DCA has been able to secure top-tier numbers for its concert program, as these artists were in the area (or close enough) to perform in larger venues.

“Sometimes we have a band that comes and goes just for our date,” Lewis said, “but more often than not the bands play other gigs in the Midwest. We often see our artists heading to where come from Big Top Chautauqua in Bayfield, the Minneapolis Zoo, Ravinia or Across the Lake at Interlochen Center for the Arts. We occasionally connect to touring artists performing at festivals like Summerfest, Blue Ox, Waters Clear.

Touring is still a financial gamble, but the added risk of COVID-19 and the inability to predict when people will feel safe again in close-quarters concert quarters has led some of the acts previously confirmed to DCA to be canceled because ‘they lost their main rendezvous anchor.

But those cancellations didn’t dampen Lewis’ energy to put together a great summer program.

“For the start of summer 2021,” she said, “we’re tweaking our booking metrics a bit and focusing on smaller groups – Midwest, regional and local acts. Artists who make sense at 25% of their capacity. Hopefully later in the summer or fall we get back closer to full capacity. We have a deep pool of amazing artists living in or near Door County, and we are very happy that our reopening includes several musicians who we consider to be neighbors and good friends. “

This is good news for some of the smaller tour groups who may not have been able to attract a large enough audience before to secure a reservation at the Door Community Auditorium with a capacity of 725 people.

It also highlights an issue that many areas such as Door County face: a gap in the market between local artists and top performers who perform at DCA between their Illinois tour dates or in the Midwest. The need for a big anchor date means a lot of great mid-level touring bands never make it to areas like Door County because they can’t guarantee those huge festival gigs and concerts just yet. arenas to make the trip financially viable.

In an effort to help bridge this gap and bring more good music to the county, the Pulse Peninsula is launching a new summer series called Pulse Presents to feature popular artists from across the country. The tours will become financially viable for artists not only through key dates such as the DCA and local municipality concert series, but also by creating mini-tours throughout the county over a long weekend.

The new venture – launched this summer – will host two Nashville-based bands performing across the county: American goth group A Tale of Two in July and soul and funky bluegrass The Danberrys in August.


A tale of two

Friday July 16: Baileys Harbor concerts in the park

Saturday July 17: Auditorium Door Community, Fish Creek

Sunday July 18: Singing workshop, Community gate auditorium

Sunday July 18: The Garage at Husby’s, Sister Bay

A tale of two. Submitted.

The Danberries

Tuesday August 10: Fish Creek Civic Association concerts in the park

Wednesday August 11: Sister Bay Pavilion

Friday August 13: One Barrel Brewing, Egg Harbor

Saturday August 14: MAX at Maxwelton Braes, Baileys Harbor

The Danberries. Submitted.

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