Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ringo Starr in New Brunswick

By Larry Dember - Director of Production

I was lucky to grow up a drummer in the late 60s and early 70s with such great music. Even luckier to have great drum teachers like Pete Bross (Gary U.S. Bonds, Hermans Hermits), Mickey Sheen , John Macaluso (Yngwie Malmsteen, James Labrie of Dream Theater, TNT, Riot, Starbreaker, and ARK) and Bobby Rondinelli (Black Sabbath, Rainbow), but there was always one drummer that stood out to me…Ringo Starr of The Beatles.

March 17th, 3:00pm: I spoke with my old friend Tommy O, Bass player from Candy and Fortress, and asked him who he would like to see at the State Theatre. Tommy said Ringo. Ironically, the next day we booked Ringo. I was a hero.

Day of Show…
6:30am: My five year old son wakes me up with “good morning Daddy, Ringo needs you,” which I am sure was a prompting from my wife. (Since I produce concerts my work schedule can be erratic and have extremely long days. Some people would not comprehend that for an 8pm show time a Production Directors day starts at 7am.)

7:30am: Meet my Live Nation co-promoter at venue and let caterer in to set up hot breakfast. (No Ringo is not here yet, this is a crew breakfast, about 25 people.)

9:00am: Meet Ringo’s production manager to tour the venue and assign dressing rooms, introduce the heads of each department (sound, lights, deck, fly and steward), plus the runner and the caterer for the day. Once settled in I ask if I could get a drum head signed for the theater and perhaps a picture. The response was “zero chance, I guess you didn’t see Larry King live where Ringo declared he loved the fans but would not be signing anything for anyone anymore. Apparently, someone had Ringo sign a Make a Wish Foundation Beatle Memorabilia and it ended up on EBAY soon afterward and that was the final straw”. I am still staying hopeful I can catch him in the wings and grab a photo.

12:00pm: Crew is still setting up risers, sound, lights, and hanging backdrops. No Ringo yet but I am told he will be arriving from NY via private car around 6pm to sound check and have a bite. Just maybe we will bump into each other in the green room.

1:00pm: Lunch for the crew and most loaders go home till load out, just heard Bon Jovi, Sean Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, and McCartney are coming tonight!

2:00pm: Ringo is turning 70 on Wednesday and after his show at Radio City his sister-in-law and her husband (Joe Cocker) are throwing him a birthday party for 400 of his closest friends. Stage is dark till 6pm sound check. A lot of waiting.

3:00pm: 1500th email from long lost friends, “Hey any chance of meeting Ringo tonight?”

4:00pm: State Theatre Vice President of Development, “Can I bring some donors backstage tonight?” I told him “Ringo is old but I don’t think it looks that serious”.

6:00pm: Ringo enters the building and slips on stage for a sound check with the band. There is truly a magical feeling in the building.

7:00pm: Ringo slips off stage and into his dressing room.

7:15pm: Dave Hartkern, Director of Operations and I meet and talk with Gregg Bissonette, great drummer and guy.

7:30pm: I bring back Warren Zimmerman, Chairman of the State Theatre Board of Trustees to meet Ringo. Instead, get a humble meet and greet with his tour manager.

7:45pm: I return backstage and find……RINGO! in the hallway and I say, “Hey Man” to which he replies something inaudible and walks into his dressing room.

7:50pm: Greg comes out of his dressing room and says “hey Larry I can’t go on, you drum tonight” and hands me his sticks. That was a cool moment for me. I handed back his sticks and asked him if he could teach me to close up my paradiddles.

8:05pm: Ringo and the all stars, Rick Derringer, Richard Page (Mr. Mister), Wally Palmar (The Romantics), Edgar Winter, Gary Wright, and drummer Gregg Bissonette, take the stage with “It Don’t Come Easy”. Two hours of good old rock and roll tunes from all of the band mate’s solo projects and bands.

10:00pm: (on the dot) Ringo comes off stage and is escorted to his car. Dave and I greet him as he leaves, enters his car, and I say “Thanks for coming” and Ringo responds, “No, thank you, good night”. It was over and done. A long awaited brush with greatness is now one for the record. A full capacity house and very satisfied audience, and another great show for the State Theatre and Live Nation.

2:00am: Last truck is loaded and the crew busses roll out to Radio City Music Hall.

3:30am: Bed.

I am still trying to comprehend the no signing and no photograph policy Ringo has. I was forced to actually live the moment so much that you can taste the adrenalin, and you know I really loved it. The most satisfying feeling being in the entertainment industry for me is to see and hear the glow of the audience as they walk out of exhilarating live performance, especially of such iconic proportions. Next up, Melissa Etheridge July 16th and Cheap Trick/Squeeze July 18th.

Come out and see a show.

Larry Dember - Director of Production

Here's the set list for the State Theatre show:
1. It Don't Come Easy
2. Honey Don't
3. Choose Love
4. Hang on Sloopy (Rick Derringer)
5. Free Ride (Edgar Winter)
6. Talking in your sleep (Wally Palmer)
7. I Wanna be your man
8. Dream Weaver (Gary Wright)
9. Kyrie (Richard Page)
10. The Other Side of Liverpool
11. Yellow Submarine
12. Frankenstein (Edgar Winter)
13. Peace Dream
14. Back off Boogaloo
15. What I Like About You (Wally Palmer)
16. Rock & Roll Hoochie Koo (Rick Derringer)
17. Boys
18. Love is Alive (Gary Wright)
19. Broken Wings (Richard Page)
20. Photograph
21. Act Naturally
22. With a Little Help From My Friends/ Give Peace a Chance (reprise)

No comments: