Roadie Cookbook to fund mental health aid on tour
A group of live music crew members have curated a non-profit cookbook with the aim of funding mental health first aid training for ‘every tour bus in the UK’.
The publication, titled The Roadie Cookbook: Toured There, Ate That, is a collection of 50 recipes, anecdotes and advice, helping road crew continue to enjoy meals together in the absence of crew catering.
The brains behind the book is production manager Nick Gosling (Nile Rodgers & Chic), who came up with the idea in April 2020, at the onset of the pandemic.
The project was curated with production coordinator Julie Cotton (Massive Attack), production assistant Athena Caramitsos and backline tech Rich House (Elbow), after the four encouraged their peers to share recipes over social media and Zoom in the absence of touring.
“While almost every venue in the world closed, home kitchens became the new catering hub for unemployed workers”
“Food is a fundamental part of life on the road,” a press release reads. “When the devastation of Covid-19 hit, live music stopped overnight, and tour buses stood still. While almost every venue in the world closed, home kitchens became the new catering hub for unemployed music workers.
“As stories of memorable meals and secret ingredients in roadie comfort food took hold, so did the stark reality that isolation and mental ill-health was becoming commonplace within the forgotten touring business…the idea of an industry cookbook was formed.”
The book’s contributors have worked with artists and events ranging from Dolly Parton to Bryan Ferry, Chemical Brothers, Kylie Minogue, Glastonbury, Linkin Park, Robbie Williams, Anastacia and Jay Z.
Recipes include The Killer Sandwich, Stage Left Satay Bowls, Tour Bus Nachos, and the Loose Cocktail.
Pre-order The Roadie Cookbook: Toured There, Ate That for £25 here.
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Unsung Heroes 2020: Charlie Hernandez
Unsung Heroes 2020, published in IQ 95 just before Christmas, is a tribute to some of the organisations and individuals who have gone above and beyond to help others during a year unlike any other – be that through their efforts to protect the industry, or helping those who were in desperate need.
We turned to the readership and asked you to nominate worthy causes and personalities for consideration as the inaugural members of our Unsung Heroes awards. Now, IQ can reveal the dozen most-voted Unsung Heroes of 2020, continuing with Charlie Hernandez, founder of Just a Bunch of Roadies (JABOR), who follows UK association Music Venue Trust.
The concept for Just a Bunch of Roadies began following the 2004 Christmas tsunami in south-east Asia, when Charlie Hernandez was in Malaysia for client Petronas, working on a glitzy event to roll out a new Formula 1 car.
“We shifted our focus into a humanitarian effort for the people of Malaysia, and their government gave us support with the aircraft and freight that we needed to move into Malaysia,” he recalls.
Hernandez visited the disaster zone and describes the horrifying scene “as though a bulldozer of immense proportions had just devastated a city.” However, on returning to his hotel in Kuala Lumpur, a pre-show cocktail party was in full swing and along with fellow production worker Lori Tierney, they hatched an idea for roadies to handle such initiatives themselves, rather than involve pop stars, and Just a Bunch of Roadies (JABOR) was born.
Since then, the organisation has helped people in dire situations, such as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and flooding in Pakistan; Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013; and Project CURE in the likes of Nepal and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Indeed, the network involved in JABOR consistently likes to think outside the box. “For example, there were some hospital beds that were used in the opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympics in London. Tait were making the beds as props but put in the extra work so that they could become proper hospital beds, while Rock-it Cargo then delivered them to a children’s hospital in Tunis,” says Hernandez.
JABOR can call on numerous production suppliers in its efforts, such as Sound Moves, Clair Global, eps, Live Nation and Upstage Trucking, and individuals like Jake Berry, David Bernstein and Opie Skjerseth.
“If you truly want to help out, go and fucking do it yourself – because individuals really can change the world”
Hernandez also notes that JABOR principals Lori Tierney, John Campion and Dan Parise all passed away during 2020. “They are a huge loss to us all,” he says.
He continues, “Many people and companies do extraordinary things and we’re very blessed to have their support. Our industry is the last bastion of the handshake, and we basically run on the compassion of the roadie, who would rather crawl across broken glass than see someone get hurt or in pain.”
With Covid-19 devastating the live events industry, this year JABOR turned its attention to its own. “Food is security for people in our industry, so we shifted our mission and tried to communicate the message that people are not alone in their suffering,” he says. “We set up food drive-throughs and partnered with the likes of Musically Fed with Maria Brunner to feed people in Nashville. And since then, we’ve had similar food drives in Minneapolis, Denver, Las Vegas, Atlanta and Phoenix.”
JABOR also liaises with local food banks to identify where they can help make a difference. “Basically, we’ve learned how to do it, but then applied what we all do for a living as production crew and used the knowledge of our industry to do it better and feed more people.”
Hernandez explains that using those principles, JABOR ran a Labor Day effort in Minneapolis where 300 cars were each loaded with enough food to feed a family of six for an entire month. Similar efforts around Thanksgiving distributed 400 meal kits, each to feed 6–8 people through that holiday period.
“We’re able to make a difference and give people hope, but there are so many people involved and they are the true unsung heroes – I would not be Charlie Hernandez without them,” he says. “We have a mantra that if you truly want to help out in a crisis, go and fucking do it yourself, because individuals really can change the world.”
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Stagehand launches prize draw for crew relief fund
Live production hardship fund Stagehand, along with Crowdfunder, has launched a prize draw to raise funds for production staff and stage crew impacted by the loss of work caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The #ILoveLive draw will give fans the chance to win unique memorabilia from artists and live music organisations such as signed guitars from Nile Rodgers, Liam Gallagher, Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton and more; hand-written lyrics by Florence Welch, Robbie Williams and Years & Years; and a rare mask worn by FKA Twigs during her live show.
Fans can choose which artists they want to buy tickets for and can increase their chances of winning by purchasing multiple tickets, which are priced at £5 each. The draw is now live until 17 December and winners will be chosen on 23 December.
“We know that when live shows can take place again in financially viable ways, the industry will be extremely busy,” says Mike Lowe, the chair of Stagehand’s board of trustees.
“Artists, festivals and venues just want to get back to work and the public are hungry to see live entertainment again. No live show of any kind can happen without the skills and expertise of the army of live events workers. I am sure that the live events industry workers who we can help, will join me and my fellow trustees in expressing our massive appreciation for making all of this happen in the most difficult and unprecedented of times.”
“No live show of any kind can happen without the skills and expertise of the army of live events workers”
Stagehand, which is this year’s Nikos Fund – the ILMC charity of the year, aims to raise at least £1 million before Christmas.
The charity has already raised £280,000 in donations from PPL, the BPI, major record labels and artist management companies – most of which went to the 300 crew members in the most desperate need earlier this month.
Stagehand has also launched several fundraising initiatives including Prints For Music, which launched earlier this week.
Organised by photographer Ed Robinson, a slate of celebrated photographers including Rankin, Tony McGee and Jill Furmanovsky have donated iconic music shots to raise money for Stagehand’s Covid-19 Crew Relief Fund.
Over 100 iconic prints of globally treasured artists such as David Bowie, Grace Jones and The Rolling Stones, are now on sale for £95 each for a limited time of four weeks, with 100% of proceeds going to the fund.
Stagehand is one of the many funds for live technicians, most of which were set up during the pandemic. According to the charity, over 60% of the people working in the industry are freelancers without any support from a larger company and over 20% of all crew have discovered that they don’t qualify for any government support at all.
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Elisa raises €230k for crew from Italian tour
Italian artist Elisa has raised €230,000 from an eight-date tour of her home country, organised in support of her band and crew.
The run kicked off in September and comprised eight dates in Italian squares ranging from 957–1,988 capacities, including Lords Square, Vicenza; Trento Square and Trieste, Ferrara; and Castello Square, Fossano.
The tour sold a total of 11,565 tickets (€34.50–€69) and, after production costs, raised €190,000 to be distributed among Elisa’s band and crew and €40,000 for a fund to help other crew.
Elisa, her management and her Italian agency, Friends and Partners, decided to forego their fees in order to pay crew and musicians double pay.
“My crew and band are the people who are in more trouble, financially, and I think it’s totally unfair – it’s just by chance that they were hit more than me,” says Elisa. “Some of my crew, technicians and musicians have been with me since I started my band around 23 years ago – they’re like my family and they would have been in trouble if I hadn’t made this decision. This is the time we have to do something and not wait for anybody else to do it.”
“This is the time we have to do something and not wait for anybody else to do it”
Elisa’s production manager Giulio Koelliker says: “I have been working with Elisa for 19 years and during this time we put together this team of amazing professionals who also became our family. This tour has been one of the most emotional tours –because of the exceptional circumstances due to Covid – but also because Elisa’s generosity towards her crew reached a new high.
“She really showed us to be the great artist she is and what a great human being she is. She gave us back what we missed the most in all those terrible months: the joy of working! We felt passion again and dedication for our job and we were all truly moved to be part of this great adventure.”
Ferdinando Salzano, CEO of Friends and Partners, Elisa’s Italian agency says: “We have participated in Elisa’s idea with enthusiasm. The importance of trying to keep the whole supply chain of music alive is fundamental to be able to perform concerts again in a normal way.”
Elisa is one of many artists that have rallied support for live events technicians who have been financially impacted the pandemic but largely left out of government support schemes.
Nick Cave, Niall Horan, Amy MacDonald and Marillion have also joined the call-to-arms for crew support – a cause which has inspired numerous campaigns and protests around the world.
Artists join call-to-arms for crew support
A number of artists including Nick Cave, Niall Horan, Amy MacDonald, and Marillion, are rallying support for live events technicians who have been financially impacted by the pandemic through fundraising events and memorabilia donations.
Solo artist and ex-One Direction member Niall Horan recently announced a one-off livestream show at London’s Royal Albert Hall on 7 November to raise money and awareness for his touring crew.
Amy MacDonald is launching her new album with a socially-distanced show and interview at The Mildmay Club in London, with proceeds going towards the #WeMakeEvents campaign. The event, titled An Evening With Amy MacDonald, will take place on 1 November and be livestreamed from 7 pm GMT.
Elsewhere, 80s rock band Marillion has already raised over £30,000 from the virtual tip jar at their Couch Convention weekend, which they split equally between their 10-man crew.
“That’s just the tip of the iceberg,” says Andy Lenthall, general manager at PSA, the live production trade association which also runs Stagehand, a live production hardship fund. “There is so much goodwill towards crew that people don’t know about,” he tells IQ.
“It is an ecosystem and artists appreciate they need crew to amplify, magnify and illuminate the shows”
“People say, ‘Why can’t the artists pay?’. Well some of them can, and some of them are, and some of them can’t. It’s about what we can do, not what we can’t do. Artists at the top of the pile work with the same crew a lot and many are supporting them,” he maintains. “It is an ecosystem and artists appreciate they need crew to amplify, magnify and illuminate the shows.”
Lenthall says Stagehand has received many anonymous contributions from artists, in the form of cash and memorabilia. Most recently Nick Cave donated one of his guitars for an upcoming memorabilia raffle, organised by the association.
The raffle, along with Stagehand’s ‘tip the crew’ concept, is part of the fund’s longtail business model based on fan engagement. “Fanbases are where we hope to make lots of small bits,” says Lenthall.
Stagehand has also received donations from companies such as PPL, BPI and Sony – though Lenthall maintains that the fund is a long-term project and will require several different initiatives to raise the money needed.
“It’s about what we can do, not what we can’t do”
“We all know it’s going to take a while for the industry to restart so we need to raise a seven-figure sum and it needs to last around six months,” he says.
The Stagehand fund opened for applications yesterday (15 October) and is initially awarding grants of £500 to help with “keeping a roof over heads and food on the table”.
“Houses are on the market and it’s the beginning of the sofa-surfing season for some people. We’ve opened the fund now because at the end of October rent arrears will be due and the mortgage holiday is over. People will have accumulated a lot of debt over the summer,” Lenthall explains.
However, he’s confident that now some companies have been saved through packages such as the Culture Recovery Fund, attention is turning to crew.
“We need to focus on retaining people. Crew are tenacious, hardworking and diligent. We don’t want to lose them.”
Live Nation announces Black Tour Directory
Live Nation Urban has launched The Black Tour Directory, a one-stop portal listing hundreds of qualified Black touring professionals.
The industry resource was developed to bolster inclusivity and expand opportunities for Black professionals and Black-owned companies in live music, alongside existing resources Roadies of Colour, Diversify The Stage, Black Promoters Collective.
The database lists contact details for tour managers, production managers, sound engineers, lighting experts, stage and set designers, stage managers, techs, travel agents, caterers, tour accountants, bus companies, security staff, and more.
“When Jenifer Smith from Live Nation Concerts and NyAsia Burris from my team came to me with this idea, I thought it was genius and absolutely necessary,” says Live Nation Urban president Shawn Gee.
“There are several amazing resource groups that exist like Roadies of Color, Diversify The Stage, Black Promoters Collective and many others, and we all have one common goal, to make sure once live entertainment returns at scale, there are more opportunities that exist for Black people, and all underrepresented groups of people, throughout the touring industry, particularly in technical and production positions.”
“Our common goal is to make sure once live entertainment returns at scale, there are more opportunities for Black people”
Jenifer Smith, Live Nation director of tour marketing, says: “I felt it was important to create accessibility to people of colour that specialise in these fields in order to help diversify live events beyond the stage.
“As a Black woman working in the music and live events space for over 12 years, I understand the importance of representation within the industry. Using our platform as the leading promoter in the world, Live Nation has the ability to help change the narrative and to provide a powerful resource for the industry.”
The Black Tour Directory enables festivals, producers, promoters, vendors, and venues to live up to an industrywide promise of inclusivity with a straightforward solution to diversifying the road once and for all.
The directory was discussed during a roundtable interview with a number of respected voices from the industry. Backstage with Crew Nation comprised Curtis Battles [Founder, CEO of Curtis Battles Production], Tina Farris [Founder, CEO of Tina Farris Tours], Victor Reed Sr. [Founder, CEO of Global Event Production Network], and Michael “Huggy” Carter [Founder, CEO of MCG Productions]. The video can be watched here.
Crew Nation raises $15m for out-of-work technicians
Crew Nation has so far raised US$15 million to help 15,000 out-of-work crew members, across 36 countries, who were impacted by the rescheduled or cancelled shows due to take place through June.
The global live music relief fund was launched with an initial $5m donation from Live Nation, which then matched the next $5 million in donations from artists, fans and employees for a total contribution of $10m from the company.
Artists including Justin Timberlake, Anderson .Paak and Kesha made contributions towards the fund, while partners and brands including Live From The Drive-In, Lollapalooza and Governors Ball came up with creative ways to encourage donations.
“Concerts wouldn’t be possible without the many crew members working behind the scenes every step of the way and we want to make sure that as independent workers, they get the support they need from both the industry and the government,” says Michael Rapino, president and CEO of Live Nation.
“Live Nation is proud to be among the many artists, donors, partners and fans who are helping drive this mission forward and support those who make the magic of live possible.”
“Concerts wouldn’t be possible without the many crew members working behind the scenes every step of the way”
The fund is powered by charitable organisation Music Forward Foundation, which will select recipients of funding “based on an objective determination of need”. Live Nation employees are not eligible to receive funding.
“The support we have received has been overwhelming, but the number of people who still need assistance is staggering and our work is nowhere near done,” said Nurit Smith, executive director at Music Forward Foundation.
“The artist community has been so incredibly supportive and creative, utilising their resources and platforms to make personal donations and drum up contributions through the release of exclusive merch, new music, livestreamed performances and much more, and our hope is that it continues to keep rolling.”
Crew Nation is accepting applications from out-of-work crew members in phases, based on when shows were originally scheduled to play.
Currently, applications are open for those who have been financially impacted from concerts originally scheduled to take place in June 2020. The deadline to submit an application is 16 August.
The fund hopes to double its impact and raise at least $30m so that it can continue providing support for independent workers from the live music industry.
Anyone who wants to contribute can either donate money or buy limited-edition merch, and all proceeds will go directly to the fund.
Harvey Goldsmith: ‘Crew are the engine of our business’
Legendary promoter Harvey Goldsmith CBE was among the UK’s leading live industry figures who attended the #WeMakeEvents campaign in London last night (11 August).
The UK-wide initiative, organised by the Professional Lighting & Sound Association (Plasa), was launched in a bid to draw attention to the struggling freelancers who work across the live events and entertainment sector.
Shows of support took place in towns and cities such as Bristol, Liverpool, Leeds and Bristol and Manchester, where hundreds of out-of-work crew workers took part in a silent march past the city’s closed venues.
London’s display saw thousands of professionals from the sector dress in red and line the banks of the River Thames and the surrounding bridges near Royal Festival Hall, the National Theatre and the Tate. The venues were lit in red to signal a “red alert”.
The finale saw a red-hued boat, carrying some of each industry’s most renowned figures including Goldsmith as well as singer-songwriter Frank Turner and Level 42 bassist Mark King, speed past the venues while the professionals and volunteers symbolised the “throw us a line” theme.
“These people here are the engine of our business. Without them, we don’t have a business,” Goldsmith told IQ.
“Making events is their livelihood so I’m all for events like this and I’m 100% behind what they’re doing. What they’ve done tonight with #WeMakeEvents is fantastic,” he concluded.
“None of us is worried about the future, we just all want to make sure we can get there”
Audiotonix CEO James Gordon delivered a keynote speech on the boat, relaying the top three objectives of the #WeMakeEvents campaign. The demands include a sector-specific furlough scheme, an extension to the self-employed and income support scheme for freelancers, and grants instead of loans for businesses in the supply chain that have been out of work.
“None of us is worried about the future, we just all want to make sure we can get there and return to being one of the fastest-growing sectors consistently in the UK,” Gordon said.
The UK’s live music sector, in particular, is currently pushing the government for a provisional date to reopen, a multi-year extension of the cultural VAT rate reduction beyond January in line with DCMS’s recent recommendations, and a government-backed reinsurance scheme to allow shows to go ahead.
UK venues were preparing to reopen from 1 August but the government pushed back the next step of lockdown easing by at least two weeks. Goldsmith says he hopes live shows will return without social distancing in the winter but the industry needs the green light first.
“We want a target date. We need four months to get ourselves together, in order to get back,” he tells IQ.
“We need to test out different systems for before people arrive at gigs. Social distancing doesn’t work. We want to do a test gig where we can use all of the available safety opportunities to prove that we could do it, like testing and tracking. And then once people are inside they’re inside. I’m working with some venues and we have everything lined up and ready to do a test show in November. We just need a target date.”
#WeMakeEvents follows on from the UK’s initial campaign, Let the Music Play, which highlighted the urgent need for government support to sustain the live industry’s broader ecosystem.
The initiative put forth a social media campaign and a letter laying out the necessary support measures, signed by artists and industry professionals, which was delivered to UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden.
La Morada: Top artists back Move CO aid for laid-off crew
Move Concerts has partnered with Spin Agency, an advertising and branding company, to launch La Morada, a new online entertainment hub designed to raise money for Colombia’s chinomatics, or production crews, during the coronavirus epidemic.
La Morada (which means both a home and the colour purple in Spanish) is a ‘virtual house’ made up of ‘rooms’ each containing specific content, such as live music, comedy, yoga, psychology, meditation, fitness classes, cooking and video games. Launched on 17 April, over 300 hours of free content has been created for the initial lifespan of the project, which was originally programmed to run for one month, until 17 May, but has been extended to 17 June.
Artists who appear in La Morada – which include Latin music stars such as J Balvin, Juanes, Fonseca and Carlos Vives – have donated their time for free, providing performance footage or exclusive interviews. Other content includes virtual PlayStation football matches (Colombia vs Peru is a recent highlight), and production masterclasses with Teo Echevarria and guests.
While all content is available for free, viewers have the option to donate money to provide a cesta basica (‘basic basket’) containing essential groceries for a family, including food and hygiene products, for the chinomatics and their loved ones.
Nicolas Martinez, marketing director for Move Concerts Colombia and director/partner at Spin Agency, recalls Covid-19 first hitting Colombia: “As the reality sunk in, fear was all that I felt. Twenty twenty was supposed to be our best year ever. We had a calendar filled with brand events and concerts. Our budget goals were already accomplished and then, out of the blue, our world froze.
“Then I started thinking about our office in Bogota, which operates with 32 people, plus hundreds of direct and indirect hires around events: producers, stagehands, roadies, security, sound and light engineers, riggers, tour managers, and other jobs that are the real foundation of our business – the chinomatics.”
While all content is available for free, viewers have the option to donate money to provide a ‘basic basket’ containing essential groceries
He continues: “I found out that Teo Echevarria, our head of production and Maluma’s production manager, was linked to an association, IPEE [Industria de Produccion de Eventos y Espectaculos, a union for production personnel), that was compiling a database of all the chinomatics who were going through a difficult time, and who were not even able to purchase basic food products for themselves and their families.
“To date, the database has a listing of more than 3,000 people.”
Using IPEE’s data, the Move and Spin teams came up with a project that would keep staff busy while generating some basic assistance for crew and their families.
Fernando Escobar, talent director for Move Concerts Colombia, who is also general manager for La Morada, adds: “We are essentially running a TV station that airs on a digital platform and social media with a programming grid that extends 7am to 11pm daily. This is non-stop.”
To date, La Morada, which is sponsored by Aval Group, has donated over 900 food baskets (out of a goal of 1,500 before the project ends) and been viewed by 600,000 viewers across all platforms (web plus Instagram and social media).
LN video series goes Backstage with Crew Nation
To promote Crew Nation, its US$10m coronavirus relief fund for out-of-work touring crew, Live Nation has has launched Backstage with Crew Nation, a new video series focusing on the relationships between touring artists and their backstage staff.
Debuting on its Live from Home platform, the first video follows Jon Russell, of indie-folk band the Head and the Heart, in conversation with the group’s front-of-house engineer, Tim Smiley. The pair discuss a range of topics, including how they’ve continued to work together during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The series will feature “natural conversations over video call between artists and members of their crews, highlighting the voices that make up the resilient live music community”, according to LN.
Watch the first episode of Backstage with Crew Nation above.