Deer Tick, an up-and-coming Rhode Island-based alternative country band, will perform live at Colorado College’s Armstrong Theater on Wednesday April 3, and it’s all thanks to a little conversation behind the Worner Desk.
Sophomore Mike Stevens is a Worner Desk Student Manager and a music lover. About a year ago, his boss, Worner Desk Manager Lynnette DiRaddo, inspired his long-term quest to bring musical talent to campus, simply by offering her expertise.
“I have been an event planner for 30 years,” DiRaddo said. “It’s not technically my role at CC, but I do advise students on the logistical side of planning an event. Mike and I were working together, talking about bands and events. I told him, if you ever want to bring a band to campus, you can do it and I will help you.”
As an entry-level employee, Stevens admits he was a little intimidated and nervous about his boss’s offer and her impression of him if he didn’t follow up. With the combined desire to impress his boss and provide a unique and exciting event to the student body, Stevens began emailing bands.
“Lynnette suggested I get a local band, but I thought if I was going to do this, I wanted to do a big band,” Stevens said. “I went to Llama last year and I thought it was cool we could bring bands in, but I felt like the whole idea of it was getting pretty hazy. From what I’d seen in the past, we’ve had The Motet here; we’ve had Flylow and Big Gigantic. We’ve had awesome bands here, why don’t we try to do something about that? I emailed an agent about a different band, which ended up being too expensive, but he turned out to be the same agent for Deer Tick.”
Deer Tick initially asked $8,000 to perform on campus, and as a lofty goal, Stevens accepted their offer. As a philosophy major with little experience in Economics, the sophomore ran into budgeting issues, costing him a few grant opportunities. When the reality of the financial feasibility presented itself to Stevens, he returned to Deer Tick and proposed a lower price. They settled on $4,000.
“There are a bunch of things that go into the event besides just the contract fee—the sound company, security, hospitality, publicity. I got some money from KRCC on the contingency that I’d pay them back from ticket sales,” Stevens explained. “I went to CCSGA; they told me to go around to other people. I approached the SOCC and they said they had some money and they were looking to do another event. Once CCSGA saw that I was really pushing, they came around. Like a domino effect, once one fell, they kept falling. I was very persistent and pushed hard, and the money started coming.”
The remainder of the event cost was covered by the President’s office. DiRaddo explains that collecting the funding for a student-driven event, as opposed to one sponsored by an organization, is like applying for bank loans: you just need one source to get behind you, and the rest will soon follow. She would know, considering she is the woman behind two well-attended campus concerts: The Wood Brother’s concert in the fall of 2010 and the Tedeschi Trucks Band concert in the spring of 2011.
“There are two kinds of acts that we can afford: the folks on the way up and the folks on their way down. And Deer Tick is on their way up,” DiRaddo said. “They’re getting more national exposure, they were on David Letterman. If you work with their agents, or if someone is in the neighborhood, you can get them cheaper. So they could sit in a hotel for a night and do nothing, or they could play for us at a lesser cost.”
Stevens and DiRaddo have been working together since the inception of the project on budget and logistics, including choosing a date that won’t interfere with the many seventh block campus events and focusing on community inclusiveness. Now, with only five days to go before the concert, last-minute details are falling into place and the pair feels surer than ever.
“We’re down to processing the checks—we need to pay the band and the sound guy. We had to contract with a special sound guy because we don’t have the equipment that they need,” DiRaddo said. “We’re thinking about who [is] going to help with load-in, because we need a crew to unload the truck. We’re thinking about hospitality and what we’ll stock their dressing rooms with. And watching the tickets, selling the tickets, and making sure students get them.”
Stevens says ticket sales are looking great one week before the show, and he is certain he will generate enough revenue to pay back his loan from KRCC.
“This block, we’re focused on publicity—the Facebook event, hanging posters, especially in Colorado Springs,” he said. “The best part for me is finding people who are really excited about this and willing to help out. Even people who don’t like this type of music are excited because they think it’s going to be cool to have professional talent at their school.”
As the sole student responsible for the event, Stevens is anticipating a lot of responsibility on the day of the show, including an on-stage introduction. While he may have had a few butterflies in his stomach when he first began emailing bands a year ago, the chance to interact with the band next week does not phase him.
“It is a business; it’s not like I’m bringing them here because I want to hang out with the band,” he said. “I’m not getting my hopes up, I’m not going to be star struck or anything. I’ve been working on this for so long, I feel like I already know them. It’s desensitizing.”
Nonetheless, both Stevens and DiRaddo are highly anticipating the day of the event, whether in excitement or relief.
“It’s a pretty cool accomplishment but I’m going to feel very happy when it’s all finished; I have a lot of other projects I’m working on, and it’s difficult with school work being intense,” said Stevens “I don’t want to wash it away though; I want to enjoy it.”
“That’s one of the beautiful things about CC—anybody can do anything,” added DiRaddo. “And I’m happy to help anybody who wants it.”
Following next week’s Deer Tick concert, Stevens hopes to try his hand at event-planning again, likely in the next school year.
“Since I’m only a sophomore, I’d like to establish some sort of committee next year to get more people involved and bring bigger names,” he said. “We’ll see what happens. It’s great that I’ve established relationships with people who can help.”