He answered the phone. I was thankful. I decided I was going to be straightforward with him about what happened with the club and make a decision about my next steps from there. We were homeless and I was not going to be able to afford this motel for more than a couple more nights. I expressed to him that we wanted to move forward with the concert but were unsure of our stability under the circumstances.
We laid everything on the table and crunched the numbers. He said he wanted to move forward and he did me one better… he said if I could find a homeowner to work with us he would pay the first month rent and security deposit to give us a place to stay while we put the concert on. I found the cheapest little house I could where the shower and heat worked and accepted his help in exchange for the hours I was investing in getting the concert up and running. I only needed to stay at the motel 3 nights and we were able to move into the house. That meant our clothes, a 30″ TV, an air mattress, an old desktop computer on it’s last leg and the basic blankets, towels we needed for personal use. At this point in my life I had lost every possession except the basic necessities.
This little house was built in the early 1900’s, 2 bedroom, 1 bath and it was in Castle Rock, Washington. I think the rent was $495 or somewhere close to it. I’ve smoked a lot of pot and paid a lot of rent since then so my recollection of the exact amount is a blur. Regardless, it was cheap and it met my minimum needs. Story of my life.
It was further north than where we were before in Kelso but it put us closer to the Raceway in Toutle. It wasn’t a free ride and I would have never accepted one. It definitely was a hand up and I’ll never forget it or be able to thank him enough for what he did for me. In fact, I tried to reach out to him on social media a few years back because we’d lost touch and I have never been able to connect. So, if the stars align like they did at the radio station on the day we met (find out how we met and go back to start of this story at my blog post, Stuck at Motel 6. Now What?) hopefully he will know or someone will tell him.
I appreciate you, Dan Dale. Circumstances beyond our control meant our business partnership ended but I could have done a better job of keeping in touch, even challenged by my personal chaos. “Life is like a box of chocolates” and in my case, someone kept putting gummy bears in my nuts and chews! Thank you for sharing your home, business, family, friends and kind heart with me. I am forever grateful to you and would love a chance to buy you and the Mrs. Dinner some day. I would imagine your boy is an adult now too. In life, I never forget someone who made a difference and helped me when no one else would. I will never forget you and your generosity. From the bottom of my heart, thank you,
Moving in to the house took about an hour. I blew up the air mattress and set it up in the front room where the TV was. It felt weird sleeping in an empty bedroom but I could live with camping out in the front room so I did. It didn’t feel so empty to me. I had baskets full of clean sorted laundry in the back bedroom. They served as our dressers too. I went to the dollar store and bought 2 plates, spoons, forks and knives and a few glasses to get us by. I bought a small pots and pans set for $20. Writing this makes me realize that I had less during this time than I did when I rented my first apartment at 18. I was able to buy 4 plates back then.
The day after we moved in I had to handle this issue of being ripped off. I got all my documents together and filed for unemployment.. It was awarded to me. I also asked nicely for the money one more time and was ignored. I filed a complaint and a claim against them through the labor board.. She wasn’t denying she owed me. She just refused to pay. At least the unemployment would sustain me. That’s how we survived the next two few months.
We were now settled so we drove up to the Raceway to meet with the owner and the sales rep for the radio station to discuss the promo schedule for the concert. While we were there we came up with the game plan to meet the requirements of the rider to include band equipment, staging, backstage catering, lodging, transportation, etc. We booked our radio airtime and started confirming the details.
Full disclosure… I had worked a lot of events, front and back of house in my past career. I had coordinated weddings for friends and set up small business luncheons in my previous administrative positions. I had thrown baby showers, bridal showers, bachelorette parties and retirement celebrations. I had marketing experience from my time consulting with Dreyer’s and Haagen Dazs branded ice cream parlors during their build out phase when I worked for Dreyer’s/Nestle career. In fact, I helped build their, “Amazing Flavors Promotion.” I set up catered events in previous positions and booked vendors to meet their needs on a very small scale but the truth is I had never put on a concert before and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I was scared. Really fucking scared! If this went wrong, it was going to go wrong in a very public way and it would mean letting down a person who just helped me, a total stranger at that. I had no intention of living with that kind of embarrassment.
In moments like that we have 2 choices, panic and let everyone know you are scared or fake it ’til you make it by doing your homework and pretending you know what the hell is going on. I’m a professional at that. I haven’t failed yet. Failure isn’t an option for me, remember? I talked about that in Eye Shadow and Rock Stars. I’m still here. A little bruised with some scars that have turned into life lessons but I am still here. That means I haven’t failed yet.
It was the beginning of April and the concert was booked for June 1st. We called it, “Riverdale Rockstock” and tied it in with a music festival by booking 5 local bands. When we intended to book Great White for the night club the plan was to hold a battle of the bands to build excitement about Great White coming to town. The winner’ s would able to open for the headliner, “Great White.” That didn’t happen and we didn’t have time to plan a “Battle of the Bands” so we went out looking for local bands instead.
I am a music fanatic of all genres and so was my boyfriend. We researched the most popular bands in the area and randomly went to see them perform in the local bars they were booked in. We wanted to see what kind of crowd response they got and we were picky about the quality of music we were looking for. The idea was to find 5 bands, all within the rock genre but each with a unique sound. The last thing we wanted was repetition! This was a very small community with minimal options. We went out 2 weekends in a row to multiple places and chose a handful of bands we liked who had gigs booked. We reached out to our chosen musicians, discussed the opportunity and before we knew it we had 5 opening acts on board. Our day long festival was in motion…5 opening acts and a headliner!
My boyfriend agreed to take on 2 responsibilities, he was to book the stage rental which was a gigantic semi truck trailer. He was also to source the band’s equipment we were required to rent. That required a few phone calls, emails and sending over a list that was handed to him by the booking agent. He later took on creating the flyers to pass out locally but I swear he spent so much time on them and never took on another responsibility. It was like he was obsessed with changing the color tones to make the flyer lighter and darker and moving words around but it never changed the content. The damn thing was black and white, printed on neon paper He kept doing computer busy work to edit those flyers lonnnnnng after they were printed and distributed throughout the community. I personally distributed 500 flyers in the small town of Castle Rock, population 2,000. Yes, that is 2,000 total. The rest of our flyers were distributed by the high school kids who worked at the raceway and the band members of the opening acts we booked locally.
He had been lazy for 3 years. What made me think he was going to keep up with my work pace or contribute now? He wasn’t. That’s ok, this experience rocked my world and I embraced every moment of planning, networking and watching it all come together. He hid out in the house in front of the computer with his busy work and made himself feel important. It was kinda cute watching him pretend. How exhausting.
The radio ad space was booked but I had minimal networking connections because I had only been in the area a short time. I had a relationship with the station staff and figured if anyone had contacts for local business owners and resources it would be the local radio station. I started there and everything came together after that.
The venue was in such a remote location that it was impossible to meet the lodging requirements of the rider without putting the band up in Portland or Seattle, both well over an hour away. I researched our local options for my boyfriend to present to the booking agent and he was willing to compromise based on our choices. The band stayed at the tiny, St. Helen’s Motel in Castle Rock. That little motel was thrilled to have them!
I made contact with the Ford Dealership to ask if they would donate a large passenger van for me to transport the band. They did! In exchange, we gave them a block of tickets, advertised the dealership at the event and reserved a space in the festival area for them to park a few trucks. They ran a sale to get $1000 off a truck if the buyer mentioned the concert or brought a ticket stub.
I connected with a small Italian restaurant in town and made reservations for the band to eat dinner the night before the show. They donated a portion of the meal, sold tickets for us and we advertised for them.. We also gifted them tickets.
The radio station booked a live interview the night before the show. We held a contest in the weeks leading up to the show to win tickets and some meet and greet passes. The mob of people at the radio station hoping to get a photo was overwhelming because to me, these guys were just people. Really talented people. All really nice guys, by the way. I spent quite a bit of time over 2 days and drove them to and from the Portland Airport. Just normal people like you and I and it was nice to get to know a little about them. I had been a fan since I was a kid.
I had no experience in ticketing so I started researching Ticketmaster and ended up setting up our ticket sales through Ticketweb. Ticketweb made it so that we could sell to anyone online but this was a small community and not everyone was connected to the internet. I walked to all the local businesses and shared flyers and offered advertising to anyone who would be willing to serve as a place to buy tickets. 8 local businesses helped me out. Between them, the Ford Dealership and the radio station we had 10 local places to walk in and buy tickets. I provided each location with the ticket inventory and tracked as each block sold. I Was also monitoring Ticketweb. It was so exciting!
The 5 local bands got involved.. Each band member of each band had a block of tickets and they sold them too! I gave them all comp tickets for family and friends but offered incentives if they sold more than the original ticket block. It was friendly competition to sell as many as possible and it was fun!
Dressing rooms and catering backstage was going to be a challenge. We had a separate modular unit for Great White parked on the grounds. This was a large peice of property with no enclosed buildings so we had to decide on a layout that worked for everyone to get dressed, eat, rest, etc. The menu for Great White was simple to follow because I had a list of what they wanted but I had 5 opening bands to feed along with the staff that helped us run the event that day. I decided to have a spaghetti feed with garlic bread. We set up an area for people to serve themselves throughout the day. I was already close on my catering budget so instead of bringing food in, I cooked. I cooked spaghetti, garlic bread and made fresh garden salad for 100 people. I love to cook, especially for the masses so I was all over it.
Leading up to the concert, my other half played with his flyer and confirmed rentals but he never hit the street to market, network or sell tickets. He did not get involved with cross marketing or any behind the scenes details. I had to use our house phone number as the box office line so he used that as an excuse to never leave the house. We did had a way for people to leave a message so he was being ridiculous. No. He was being typically lazy. Call volume was really minimal so his excuses didn’t fly. We were constantly bickering. His sloth tendencies were becoming more unattractive to me. I also realized that by now I was 120 lbs lighter and he didn’t treat me with anymore respect than he did when I was 380lbs. That was an eye opener.
The computer sat on the floor in the spare bedroom and we sat on the carpet to use it. No desk, no chair… But it was a fully operating box office. Anyone who called to buy tickets would have pictured a call center. When local people called for tickets, I delivered them. The raceway property was about 35 minutes outside of town going towards Mt. St. Helen’s so it was not convenient to use that as a ticket location.
Of course, the week of the show he decided to engage. He made calls to confirm deliveries. He started obsessing over his disappointment in the security staffing that was arranged for us and bitching at me non stop. Of course he did not take initiative to get involved but he had something to say about every little thing. His pre-Madonna started to emerge and the concert was suddenly about his reputation. He accepted interviews with the local newspaper and took full credit as the promoter. Watching him puff his chest with pride over the seamless execution of this concert made me ill. I didn’t need recognition but it pissed me off watching him accept credit and portray himself as some hot shot promoter who put on the whole thing single handedly. It was my 12 hour days that made him look good but he was all kinds of bragging. I might have even been a little embarrassed for him. He liked to make himself seem really important when dealing with the local bands too. Almost name dropper like. He acted as though it was no big deal but liked to use people’s names in strategic moments as reference. It was subtle but so obvious to me. It was his insecurity mask. Of course they thought he was the cool guy. To me, he was the lazy leech I’d been supporting for years and now he was taking public credit for my efforts. Awesome!
I was never interviewed or questioned by any media until after the concert was over and the reporter misquoted my statement about the turn out which gave the article a negative tone anyway. I wished I had never accepted the interview!! This event taught me to remember that it does not matter what people think from the outside or how much credit you get for your work as long as you give it everything and the results are positive. That’s what makes it possible to sleep peacefully at night. I am proud of my accomplishments and that’s enough for me. People see and believe what they want. I don’t care what anyone thinks. I walked away with an amazing personal and professional experience! I’ve put on a lot of reality incredible events since then.
He showed up for the fun part! Picking up the band from the airport, going to the radio station for the live interview and to the dinner I arranged at the family style Italian restaurant. The radio station parking lot was a mob and I had to drive the van around to the rear entrance so they could get in the building without being seen. The front door entrance was crowded chaos. The guys went in the building and I drove around to park. When I was getting out of the van I was surrounded by a mob of female fans trying to score tickets and passes. Begging me for tickets, trades, etc. I could barely get out of the car. These women… Lol. I remember hearing a voice in the crowd, “which band member is she married to?” That just made me laugh. I was as gracious as I could be to kindly acknowledge them but I had to get myself away from the crowd. It was making me chlostrphobic. Just being with the band meant it was hard for me to take 10 steps without being pestered. I couldn’t imagine living like that. It felt stifling and borderline annoying. I felt like I had no personal space. I have always been a music fan and have met tons of mucians but I have never lowered myself to groupie behavior. I know I sound judgmental but I get embarrassed for women who act that way. My best friend of 25 years acts that way. She cries when she is around a Rockstar she loves. So. Fucking. Embarrassing. She knows I feel this way. There are no secrets here, lol. They play drums. They are not God. I happen to know first hand that they shop at Target and eat pizza, *gasp*.
The radio interview was an hour long and it was fun to sit in the studio and listen to them answering questions about their history, band member changes throughout the year, the horrible fire, friendship, music influences and favorite songs.
After the interview they agreed to take pictures with a few fans outside the station and sign autographs. After that, we all went to the restaurant and sat down for a really nice dinner. When dinner was over we drove them up to the venue for a late night sound check, then back to the motel.
The sound check really pissed off the neighbors. I forgot to mention that this little one day concert on a hundred acres in the middle of nowhere Washington created controversy. The property owners nearby were screaming and trying to get it shut down. They didn’t want to hear the traffic driving by or the music. The local businesses were looking forward to the revenue and supporting us. We had over a thousand people attend. The one gas station near the venue felt the love in their cash register. We did not get shut down despite the residential outcry from 100 acres away so the neighbors cried while we rocked out! We tried to offer tickets and if I remember, the property owner offered lodging for a night to people affected and they pouted and bitched instead. We tried. They cried.
The concert started at noon, gates at 10am. We were in a remote location and the music would go for about 11 hours so we offered the option of overnight parking to discourage drinking and diving. Hundreds of people parked in remote areas on the river side of the property and set up tents so they could sleep after the show instead driving. The camps people set up were organized with flags and circles of chairs. It looked like a hippie camp out. It made my heart flutter. They were there to party.
I booked vendors including a variety of food trucks, leather gear, tattoos and piercing, and typical festival arts and crafts booths. One of the local non profits ran our beer garden so we raised money at the same time! I think it was The local Eagles chapter but my recollection is fuzzy on that.
The line to get in the parking lot was backed up a half mile outside the entrance. That’s when the moment got very real. I just planned a concert and it’s happening. People were pouring in!
It started right on time and the entire day went smoothly. When Great White took the stage it was pitch black outside. They turned the lights out and the song, “Jack the Knife” played to build crowd anticipation. People were screaming like crazy and the sound echoed loudly over the Toutle River! I had spent the entire day running and answering questions and catering but I refused to work after the band started. I was going to enjoy the show. Right before the lights came on, I grabbed the hand of the high school girl who had helped me with everything along the way and asked if she wanted to really see the show. She was all over it so I grabbed her hand and we made our way beyond the barricade that separated the crowd from the stage and stood up against the stage with the crowd behind us. We got a front row view and they sounded AMAZING!! It was rewarding to stand there at a concert that I organized, dancing and singing to one of my favorite bands from childhood and I was sharing it with a younger person who was just discovering their music for the first time and loving it too! So fucking awesome! Music is magical!
Then… During, “Call it Rock & Roll” the crowd pushed forward and the barrier came down. We were now smashed against the stage with thousands of people behind us. There was no fighting or violence but it was a little chlostrphobic.. I felt responsible for her but she held her own and we did our best to make space for ourselves. We had staff passes so people listened a little when I started screaming to back up and pushed the barrier back.. Security was right there and it was totally under control. We were not going to let that stop our good time. Her and I stayed put until the end. She was such a fun girl. I am not sure where she is today but I know she will always remember that day too!
When the show was over we had to drive the band to the Portland Airport because they had a tour date in another city the next day. By the time we packed equipment and got in the car it was 2am and I had been up since 4am the morning before. Driving back from the airport was scary because of extreme exhaustion. Worth every minute invested!
Right after the concert, The labor Board awarded me the money due from the night club and I had a small settlement check to pick up in their office. It sucked to have to sue my friend and her kids. I hate that she put me in that position but they left me homeless and without resources.
The next step was unclear in terms of future plans for concerts and we had to do some number crunching to decide. In the meantime, I’d been through hell the past 6 months and I needed to see my loves ones. I got paid from the concert and went to visit California. My intention was to come back and continue at the raceway.
While I was visiting home my mom had a stroke. That changed everything.