By Nick McCabe – Front Row Photo
I get a lot of comments about how lucky I am to get into all the shows I review, take pictures of and get up close to the acts, and I agree - I am lucky. I love doing this. I’ve been a musician for 47 years and have been a photographer off and on for a long time (I have no idea). But make no mistake about it. It’s not as easy as just making a call or sending an email and being greeted with open arms by promoters and venue’s. There are a lot of other photographers and journalists that want to cover these shows, and approvals are like gold. It’s not uncommon to have to send multiple emails and stay on top of it while at the same time not getting too needy and upsetting somebody. It’s a delicate dance.
The artist is the one who approves or declines the press access, and the venue usually (but not always) decides on whether or not to include seats. Most venues are great and always give me a pair of seats if I’m approved by the artist to cover the show. The one exception to this rule is Harvey’s Outdoor Amphitheater. Although it’s the same organization as Harrah’s, most if not all of the shows at Harvey's are controlled by Another Planet Entertainment. Harrah’s and the staff that take care of me are some of the best to deal with, but the shows across the street at Harvey’s are a crapshoot to get into.
The big challenge with all shows at all venues is that I usually don’t know if I’m approved until a few days ahead of time, so planning a weekend is difficult. With the shows at Harvey’s you get your notification the day before. This summer I was turned down by every artist I requested (as were requests by my peer group, with few exceptions) except for one. The one who always says yes, because he’s a hell of a guy and knows how to through a party, is Sammy Hagar. However, due to unexpected personal issues I was unable to attend this show. The shows that I didn’t request access to were approving press access too all requests for the most part. I just chose poorly!
The first disappointment of the summer was not getting access for Boston and The Doobie Brothers. Something just fell through the cracks on this one because I was told my request wasn’t made in time, but I made my initial request about two months prior. Oh well, it happens, so we bought tickets to the show (OMG!). We really enjoyed The Doobie Brothers.
Next up on the disappointment list was being denied by Aerosmith. Now, I understand that me taking pictures and writing reviews (typically complimentary and positive reviews) is not going to change the careers and fortunes of these artists, but Aerosmith said no? Am I mistaken or are they not the band they used to be? I’m sure they still put on a good show, but didn’t their last album tank? What harm can free publicity do?
Two performers I really wanted to photograph because of their current high standing in the industry and what I would have expected to be a visual smorgasbord were Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars. I don’t have anything in my musical collection by either of these artists, but I was excited about the possibility of seeing them up close and taking some killer pictures to share…but noooooooo! Excuuuuuuuusssseee meeeeeeeee for asking!!!!! (That is my best Steve Martin impersonation.)
Then came the only bright spot in the summer outdoor concert series at the lake, Sammy Hagar, but like I said I was unable to attend. I heard that it was a fantastic show from others who went and I have no doubt that it was a fun evening for all in attendance.
The biggest disappointment of the summer season was not getting approved for The Eagles. This was a show that we would have bought tickets for if we had known that approvals were not going to happen, but by the time the writing was on the wall it was too late.
However, all was not lost this summer. Shows I did get to cover were The Fab Four (Beatles Tribute Band), Robert Cray, Sammy Hagar (Cinco de Mayo show), Eric Burden, Three Dog Night, Boz Scaggs, Spyro Gyra, Tommy Lee at LEX Nightclub, Kenny Loggins, Tony Bennett, and two Carson City based bands – The Floyd (Pink Floyd Tribute Band), Rockslide and Baker Street. The highlights for me were Spyro Gyra (absolutely amazing musicians), and Tony Bennett who I got to do an interview with. Just click on any of these artists’ names to go to the review/photo gallery of each show.
The future is bright, and there are many great shows on the way to our area. I’m trying something different this weekend with Dwight Yokum! The dog days of summer are behind us. Stay tuned.
…and the beat goes on.