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Columns > Mike Greenhaus - The Greenhaus Effect

Published: 2007/09/23
by Mike Greenhaus

Social Tour Managing

I’ve come to accept in my ripe old age that it requires a scientific degree to figure out how to make plans with certain friends. There are some friends that need weeks of e-mail exchanges and phone conversations to pick out a date, confirm a time and mutually agree on a location simply to ‘hang’ and there are those friends that only seem to figure out their evening activities on a whim. Some friends can only commit when it comes to carefully defined events like concerts, while others take your security deposit when you loosely toss around the idea of getting coffee over AIM. Then again there are those indecisive friends who need to see a guest list before agreeing to any given agenda and I those I know I will end up running into when I’m out and about. Of course, there are those friends who are great at makings plans, but terrible about following through, and then there are those who like to weigh any and all social decisions like items on a menu. Ive had friendships quickly pick up momentum before they ultimately reach a state of friendship supernova and other friendships germinate at a slow, steady speed. Certain friends stop by unannounced and linger for hours, others prefer the pop-in and peace-out and, with a select few, it’s just best double book.
And then there are those friends who have appointed tour managers to oversee any and all of their social decisions.
We all have these friends: normal everyday people who, somewhere along the line, have elected to appoint their girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands, wives, best friends and estranged neighbors to take charge of their personal plans. And, much like the tour managers I deal with in my day job at Relix, even if you’ve advanced time with a publicist, business manager or your actual friend, it is ultimately up to their tour manager whether you will make the list that night.
Since I first aimlessly bounced into the music industry a few years ago, I’ve had the opportunity to meet an interesting mnge of people who hold down all sorts of high-stress jobs (as Kermit the Frog most likely mused when Bela Fleck stopped by Sesame Street, it aint easy being heady). But, Ive come to realize over the years that the tour manager’s job is particularly tough, not only because they have to baby sit bands, oversee crews, settle with promoters and hoard publicists, managers and groupies like cattle towards the backstage bar, but because they have to deal with people like me: neurotic, scatterbrained writers who should probably have a tour manager, or at least a secretary, of their own.
Yet, Ive also learned that if you have a good tour manager, it makes life easy for everyone around you. Take my dear friend Karen for instance. I always have fun when I hang out with Karen and wish we chilled more, but she is the type of person who is impossible to make plans with. But, since she started dating and ultimately became engaged to a fine young Jewish hippie named Dave, Ive started to bypass Karen in the decision making process altogether. Dave knows her work schedule, family obligations, moods, pre-wedding jitters and, most importantly, knows how to confirm plans in a short, succinct e-mail (thankfully he hasnt figured out the all powerful tour managers silent no, which will be the subject of its own Greenhaus Effect column in the future). It makes life easier and, with age, I figure that each and every one of my friends will eventually find a tour manager to organize their social schedule. I mean the last time my Dad picked up a phone to make plans he was wearing bell bottoms and going to see the Bee Gees, yet he still seems to find a way to go out every Saturday night. Now if only my Mom could figure out a way to tour manage my favorite dysfunctional live improvisational rock bands

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