A Kinrowan Estate story: Concert tales


Greetings Reynard,

I hope you and Ingrid are enjoying your break from here while on a busman’s holiday in Scandinavia. As you well know, it’s quiet here right now as there’s no conferences or other bookings here, and most of the staff is busy helping Gus with lambing and other spring activities.

But I got a question here last night that’ll amuse you. The visitor was here from Riverrun Estate checking on how his daughter was doing in her Several Annie library apprenticeship and he was having a pint of ale, I think it was the last of the winter ale, and he overheard me talking to Finch who was tending bar about a band I managing a tour for and he sighed and said it must be exciting to work with musicians.

I snorted and said ‘not always.’ So then I told tales of musicians that were less than fun to be around. I started off with the tale of the female English folk rock legend who demanded that the I turn off the furnace in in the venue we were having the concert in as it disturbed her concentration. I looked at the contract, saw no such clause, and said no as it was February! She called the next morning to bitch that the CD sales count was off and I simply asked if she’s given our merch staff a count. She cursed loudly and said ‘what did that matter’. I hung up.

And then there are the bands that get lost. I had one Scottish band, good lads all, who called three hours before concert time, and just one hour before tech check, to say they couldn’t find the venue. After a few minutes, I discovered they were thirty miles away in a town with a similar name. After finishing their pints, they got here just in time for the concert. No tech check, so they played it acoustic and were simply brill!

I had at least three bands over the years, all relatively new bands and all quite young as well, break up before they got to play. Usually it was because there was a couple in the band and frankly that breaks up younger bands. One such band had the female vocalist dating one of the fiddlers and the other female vocalist dating the smallpiper. Finch who knows the smallpiper says none of them are talking to each other these days.

The next-to-last story I told wasn’t one that happened to me but happened to a friend of a friend. A fairly well-known Celtic band was doing a tour through Western Canada and down to the Southwestern USA where they were to join up with Big Bad Wolf as their opening act. The promoter was dating the vocalist and allowed him to handle the money receipts for the tour. She was to join them in New Mexico for the Big Bad Wolf tour they were the opening act for and she drove to the hotel there where they were to be staying.

She got to hotel, went to the front desk, and asked the clerk where the band was. He said ‘Who?’ She gave him the name of her boyfriend and he informed her that he canceled the reservations. It took her a full day to figure out that they done their date last night and, this being long before The Towers came down, had booked seats back to Ireland. With some forty thousand dollars in cash.

Yes, she was out one boyfriend, her thirty percent as promoter, and had one very pissed-off music company as they’d fronted her ten thousand to cover tour costs. The band never played here again but my friend met one of the fiddlers in Stockholm a few years after and he said that the boyfriend figured that was easier than breaking up with her.

I ended on an up note by telling him the tale of the Scottish fiddler who I booked on a Canadian tour who was a perfect gentleman who treated the merch staff right proper, played three sets every night, and even played in several céilidhs when invited to do so. All he asked was good drams of single malt and places to eat that did a Scottish fry-up or something similar for breakfast along with a pint to start the day.

I think our visitor left a wee bit disillusioned at my stories but that I cannot help as music is a business for many of us.

See you in a few weeks, Jack


About Jack Merry

I’m a fiddler who plays in various bands including Chasing Fireflies, the Estate contradance band; I’m also the Estate Agent for everything music related including the tours our myriad musicians do elsewhere.

My drink, or so my wife Brigid says, is anything liquid, but I like a good dark beer and a spritely cider most of all.

Scotch-Irish by ancestry, my favoured music is Irish, Scottish and Nordic trad.

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