Since 2014, tour supervisor Tommy Garris has been retaining the nation band Old Dominion on the street. However in all his time of guaranteeing that flights are made, accommodations are booked, and reveals go off with out a hitch, he’s by no means skilled something as daunting because the final two years of the pandemic.
And he’s involved in regards to the new touring season that’s to return.
“It has been essentially the most tense a part of my job that has ever existed,” Garris tells Rolling Stone. “It’s just like the previous Mike Tyson saying: ‘All people’s bought a plan till they get punched within the mouth.’ I do know I’m going to get punched within the mouth once more and I believe plenty of excursions are too.”
Regardless of so many main excursions launching or resuming this month within the midst of the Omicron surge — from the Warfare on Medication and Eric Church to Elton John and Kacey Musgraves — Garris says it’s decidedly not enterprise as normal. “I consider we’re all doing what we’ve got to do,” he says, “in any other case the trade dies.”
Earlier than the Grammy-nominated Previous Dominion returns to the street with their very own tour later this month, we requested Garris to element the challenges for tour managers — and the artists they oversee — throughout a 3rd 12 months of enjoying reside music in Covid.
We’re gearing up for a few reveals in about three weeks and I used to be simply studying over CDC tips to see what had modified. All people has needed to tackle a duty that we didn’t know was ours. A number of tour managers have change into their very own Covid compliance officer. You’re writing Covid protocols that possibly legal professionals must be writing as a result of there’s a legal responsibility facet to them. It’s principally a Covid rider. At the moment, “No inexperienced M&Ms” has equated to “Everybody wears a masks.”
Proper now, everyone seems to be grabbing as a lot info as they will from as many alternative choices which can be out there — from the CDC to different artists on the street — and attempting to determine how that matches into your particular tour. We’ve got a backstage vaccine mandate on our area tour, however final 12 months we have been on a gala’s and festivals tour. On an area tour, you’re paying for every part so you can also make guidelines that everybody has to stick to or face the implications. Once you’re in honest and pageant season, you possibly can play, say, Chicago and get every part you requested for, when you’re a pro-testing, pro-vaccine tour. However then you possibly can play in another state that doesn’t fairly have that very same perception system and also you’re not going to have the ability to drive some issues inside your touring tips. So each tour must be somewhat bit totally different and adapt by scenario.
I believe there are going to be excursions and artists who’re going to face plenty of ethical and social dilemmas in simply attempting to do the correct factor by everybody. There’s no option to predict an outbreak, however you do have to concentrate to [case numbers] and know when [infection] chances are high larger. That’s the place you regulate and work with promoters and attempt to do the perfect which you can with what you’re given. That’s the scenario that we’re all in.
No one is on the market saying, “Man, I don’t care if a bunch of individuals die; I simply need them to return to my present.” There’s not an artist on the market that has that mentality. We’re identical to all people else and attempting to work and care for our crews. If our crews aren’t working for us, they’re going to seek out one thing else. And identical to in some other trade, while you take away the veterans and the consultants in that trade, the trade suffers.
However all of us are keen to tackle the duty. Each tour, each tour supervisor, each artist simply has to attempt to do the correct factor — one thing that’s going to not solely profit you, however profit the followers which can be coming to see you and attempt to maintain everybody secure.