The Onboard Photographer

With the last show approaching, the seasoned team reflects on the past two weeks on the road. In the case of Emily Carver, an aspiring and active photographer, this experience has proved greatly beneficial. "Being a part of this tour experience has helped me gain insight on exactly how a tour is run, day in and day out. It has been liberating to have all access to a venue and go where I need to get a great shot or capture great footage of other students doing their assigned jobs," says Emily Carver, Entertainment Industry Studies major.



Emily Carver perched side stage, capturing a performance at Westbury, NY. Photo: Donnie Hedden


"Usually when I shoot a show, I email the band's manager or post to Facebook and tag the artist," says Carver, "I have never gotten the opportunity to talk with the artist directly about my work."



Emily Carver hangs with Dusty Hanvey of the Grass Roots backstage in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire.


"I know I can take what I've learned on the road and apply it to my photography in the future," says Carver.


Check out Emily's work from this tour, she has a very sharp eye for capturing the climatic moments that define entire events. The work that Emily has produced from this trip will not only strengthen her portfolio, but through her newly acquired relationships with the subjects, her craft will be of value to the artists and their careers.



Dusty Hanvey of The Grass Roots. Photo: Emily Carver



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Solving Problems, Staying Alive.

“George Benson said it best, those who make it in the music business are the ones that survive it" says Dusty Hanvey, guitarist of the Grass Roots during a student interview. Lauren Walsh approaches this concept with optimism, "When life hands you lemons, just make some of that good ole’ southern lemonade," she says while reflecting upon a dressing room, artist mix up that she recently dealt with while working as assistant tour manager.


The nature of this tour calls for six dressing rooms at each venue. So most nights the venue's dressing rooms are at full capacity. At the Montgomery Performing Arts Center, in Montgomery, Alabama an artist's dressing room was not adequate for occupancy due to a loud buzzing from an air conditioning unit. With this problem not being found till after the moving in artists, it put Lauren Walsh in a tight situation having to relocate artists. "Acting as a road manager, it was my problem to fix because it is important as a road manager to make sure all the artist are happy, comfortable and are taken care of," says Walsh.




Lauren Walsh, Assistant Road Manager prepares and assigns artists' dressing rooms in Montgomery, Alabama.


"I talked with my artist and explained the situation and made sure he was comfortable with being switched to the green room and all was good. It was neat being able to use skills to assess the issue, come up with a plan of action and then to make sure it was executed," says Walsh.



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The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round.

"Load in, set up, eat, show, break down, load out, sleep, repeat," says Johnny Cloherty, "I feel as if we have just begun our ascent into the ‘nitty-gritty’ of a real tour experience. Tired and exhausted, but still moving on and doing our jobs." The Happy Together Tour has been out for ten days now, and so far, the students have integrated quite seamlessly into the crew and to the daily, cyclical touring routine.



Johnny plans his next move during load out in Jacksonville, Florida. Photo: Donnie Hedden


Now that all of the working positions have been rotated and fulfilled by all the students, more attention is being paid the mental and physical state of being on tour.  "What I have been learning most the last few days is discipline. The effects of eating right, getting proper rest, and taking care of myself on a day-to-day basis has been paying off ten fold" says Johnny Cloherty.



Johnny directs lights in Dothan, Alabama. Photo: Emily Carver


The road is starting to grow on the students. It is beginning to be hard to imagine going back to a normal pace of life; back to the consistent grind of school and work."The difference between here and my dead end job back in Nashville, is that I want to be here," says Johnny Cloherty, "I don’t want to complain, I don’t want to call in sick, I don’t want to be too tired to do my job."

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Class on the Road with Godfrey Townsend.

“In this industry doing is everything. You have to do it to learn it.” – Warren Frambrough, Front of House Engineer.


Last Wednesday at the Hardrock Cafe in Hollywood, Florida guitarist and musical director, Godfrey Townsend spoke to the student team during the routine, early afternoon class period. "(Godfrey) talks a lot about how important it is to be creative in this industry and create work for yourself to do so you can make money in the slow touring season," says Lauren Walsh, Entertainment Industry Studies major.



Godfrey Townsend shares his touring experience with the students in the green room at the Hard Rock.


As the musical director on the Happy Together Tour, Godfrey is responsible for directing and arranging the house band that accompanies all five artists during the show.  "You can tell everyone (the crew, artists, band members) all really respect and love him.  He makes sure things go smoothly and that everyone is playing their part and seems to be the ‘glue’ to all of the sweet music being made," says Lauren Walsh.



Godfrey working the night shift.


"I think the way he leads could be something I can learn from and use in the future when I am working in this industry." - Lauren Walsh.


The Hard Rock Cafe in Hollywood, Florida was a vacation-of-a-venue: delicious catering, pristine hotel rooms, a large pool and spa, an efficient load in procedure and a hospitable staff. Approximately three thousand people attended the show, making for a boisterous audience. The student team worked hard as ever running lights, sound and merchandise. Watch this to see a recap of the evening.

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Godfrey's leadership

Godfrey Townsend, the lead guitarist and music leader for all of the artists sat down and had a nice talk with our class today. I have loved interacting with him on this tour and have learned a lot about what it takes to be a leader on the road by watching him individually and also with talking with him. It has been great hearing about how he got his start and to see how passionate he is about his job as a musician. It is so obvious to all of us students that he clearly loves leading and he is great at it too.  He talks a lot about how important it is to be creative in this industry and create work for yourself to do so you can make money in the slow touring season. He has multiple bands and recording projects to keep him busy when he is not touring the world with amazing artists. Although, I am not a musician, I am so inspired by him by seeing his actions and how uses himself to direct the group he is on stage with. You can tell everyone (the crew, artists, band members) all really respect and love him.  He makes sure things go smoothly and that everyone is playing their part and seems to be the 'glue' to all of the sweet music being made. I think the way he leads could be something I can learn from and use in the future when I am working in this industry. I am excited to continue learning from Godfrey for the rest of the tour.

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The Front of House Apprentice: Tate Forbes

"All I know is that I'm not sure." - Mark Volman, a.k.a 'Professor Flo' Orlando, FL.

The intimate nature of the 900 person capacity Plaza Live Theater in Orlando made for a hands-on learning experience for the Belmont Team. With relationships between the crew and students evolving, tasks that would normally be handled by crew are being given to students.

"Last night I got to work with Warren at front of house. He showed me why he uses matrix and why and how he sets up the patches the way he does," says Tate Forbes, Audio Engineering Major


Tate Forbes mixes front of house at the Plaza Live Theater in Orlando, FL.

"Slowly but surely he let me control the faders, then during Gary Puckett's set he let me run the board." - Tate Forbes.


Warren instructs Tate on how to run front of house.

"Warren is a great teacher and has an immense amount of patience while showing me what was going on. I am an audio student so I was on cloud nine," says Forbes.

The enthusiastic response to teaching duties by the crew are being felt by the students. "I've become very comfortable with asking the crew questions that may come off as stupid," says Forbes, "They're full of mercy when it comes to us making mistakes."

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Five Shows Down, Ten to Go.

We are five shows into the tour and everyone is still standing. Buses have broken down, merchandise profits have gone unaccounted for and pranks have been pulled. Yet, somehow, the pun has not died: we're all very happy together.


The production team of Belmont of students have assimilated smoothly, taking their posts as stage hands, assistant road managers, lighting designers and merch handlers very seriously.  "I worked with Earl, controlling the output of the onstage monitors," says Max Batchelor, Entertainment Industries Studies, "in between sets, he allowed me to mute all of the monitors by myself. I also got to turn Mickey Dolenz’ in-ear monitor on, and give him a thumbs up. I felt pretty cool doing that."


Attending daily classes with professor Mark "Flo" Volman and documenting daily learnings are also among the requisites of the tour. At each show, relevant guest speakers join the class and share their experiences as active participants in the touring business. "The guest speakers that Professor Volman brings in are very passionate about explaining what they've been through and how they got to where they are. Wayne Avers, Micky's guitarist, told us how he goes all day acting as a road manager/babysitter for Micky only to have seventy-five minutes to himself when he takes the stage and plays," says Lily Restenberger, Entertainment Industries Major.



Wayne Avers (back to photo) shares his experiences as a touring artist in the green room at the Plaza Live in Orlando, FL.


Last Sunday, the gang moved outdoors and played the Coca-Cola main stage at Riverbend Festival in Chattanooga, TN. "It was refreshing and interesting to see the differences between a show at an outdoor venue and a show at a theater. Perhaps the first and biggest difference is weather," says Karalyn Gillan, Entertainment Industry Studies major. Towards the end of the evening at the Riverbend Festival the weather went south.  "After the show ended it got really windy. We were counting money at merch and had to keep the money from blowing away in the wind," says Karalyn.


The touring party compiled of students, crew members, artists and musicians is moving towards cohesion. Crew members are adopting their additional roles as teachers graciously, and the artists are sharing meals and stories with the students openly. We're a diversely assembled touring family with a goal of providing entertainment. Next stop, Hollywood, Florida.


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We just got Punk'd

Touring has been so fun...we are about 3 hours out of Orlando, it is 1pm and I am one of 4 that are awake...everyone else is still asleep in the bunks. We headlined the Riverbend Music Festival in Chattanooga last night which was a great experience. Our show didn't end till midnight last night, then we had to tear down the stage and pack up all the gear and all take showers at a near by hotel. We did not leave the venue until about 2:30am. Around that time, the band came knocking on our  bus door with their luggage and said that their bus had broken down and that they were sorry but they were going to have to join us on our bus...that would make 20 people on one bus...its already crowded with 11! They stayed on our bus for about 10 minutes trying to come up with new sleeping arrangements...then they told us 'GOTCHA' ...and we knew we got was so funny! Then they went running off our bus back to their bus in the pouring rain..its time for us to conjure up a revenge prank now!

So finally we departed Chatanooga at 2:30am and at 5:30am the bus stopped...there has been some minor issues with our bus and we thought it would be best to switch at 5:30am we awoke and got all of our luggages, bags, personal items etc and switched buses..that took us about 1 hour. Then we all slept hard and got some much needed rest. There is no show today, so it'll be pretty fun to have a day off in Orlando!

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Dothan, Alabama

We arrived to Dothan, Alabama pretty early in the morning and our work did not have to start until noon. It was nice having the morning off to see the town a little bit. We got off the bus and started waking through the city and went through a farmers market which was pretty lively and found our way to a great coffee shop where we got some tasty morning food. Noon approached pretty quickly and it was my turn to the load in which means I have to help take out all the gear and then set it up. Some of those cases are super heavy. I had a great time set up the drum kit.  During the show I got to work the projector screen and design the layouts of all the colors that all the fans would see behind the band. It was so cool! It was also really fun to run on to the stage to hand Mark ‘Flo’ drumsticks as he did drumstick tricks on stage…a rush of adrenaline definitely shot through me! Also, the bands ended the encore with ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ and the crowd just loved it…so many people got their groove on. It was really fun to watch!

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