Craig Stahl

  Music Maker of the Month - Sony Boat Show


I used to be a Stage Manager for a living. I have Stage Managed shows in clubs, at County Fairs, for crowds of 2 in a club in Trivoli, Illinois (during a blizzard), to over 400,000 at Dallas Motor Speedway for Blockbuster/MTV's RockFest. That show had 12 headline acts and many more support acts. To organize and keep a show like that on time, took much planning, personnel, equipment and acres of space.

I don't do shows anymore but every February during the Country Radio Seminar or CRS week, I stage manage a show like no other. The Sony Music Boat Show, held every year on the General Jackson Showboat. Imagine 1200 Radio DJ's and Program Directors piling on a boat downtown on Lower Broadway, cruising 4 hours up and down the Cumberland River, enjoying a steak dinner, drinks and listening to the Sony Music Group's roster of recording artists. Sounds great right, but trying to do that on a boat with state of the art sound, lighting and video can be a challenge!  
                                    Brad Paisley

The show begins with opening remarks from Sony Nashville CEO, Gary Overton. Gary O presents the Radio Ink Awards to the leading DJ's across the country. After 20 or so DJ's receive their awards and they all cram onto the small stage for photos, then the music begins. Each artist does 2 songs and the set changes between acts are only 3 minutes long! Each act shares the drums and amplifiers but it is still a challenge to move musicians, instruments, microphones, and gear on on off the small stage. The audio and lighting folks have to reset their equipment as well. They restore all the settings from the long day of sound check rehearsals we do all day before the show.


  After the Sony Music roster finishes their show, there is always a "Secret Special Guest" who performs a show. This year after Brad Paisley finished his show by covering Van Halen's "Hot For Teacher", he broke into the 1970's hit, "I Want You To Want Me". As he noodled on that, out walked a geeky looking guitar player who said,"your Van Halen is pretty good but your Cheap Trick needs some work! Special Guests Cheap Trick rushed the stage and brought down the house with a 30 minute show of hits. Guitarist Rick Nielson known for throwing guitar picks to the audience while soloing must have thrown a couple hundred picks to the audience. The audience was transformed from music industry professionals to giggly high school kids reliving the 1970's and 80's.


                                   Cheap Trick and Brad Paisley Rockin Out!

                                       Rick Nielson of Cheap Trick

A good time was had by all! The boat docked back at Lower Broad and after the radio folks got off, we pulled away and headed back to the General Jackson's home dock at Opryland. We tore down all the equipment and 2 hours later when docked, we rolled all the gear off the boat and into trucks.

                                       General Jackson Showboat

Special thanks go out to John Johnson from Sony who is in charge of producing the event, Production Manager Chuck Young who hires me every year, Bandit Lites and their fabulous staff, Mark Thompson dealing with all the backline and keeping the musicians happy, Morris Leasing who did a great job in their first year handling the audio, and Moo Tv who did an excellent job with the video. Special thanks also go to Trisha Yearwood who walked onstage unrehearsed and received a standing ovation from the crowd. It was such a pleasure to hear her sing and she was so damn good that for a brief second, I felt the urge to get on a tour bus again. I remembered why I got into the music business years ago.......... The Music! But alas, by the time load out was finished in the frigid parking lot at Opryland, I had come to my senses and got in my truck, drove home, ate 4 or 5 advil and slept in my own bed!

                                   Wow! She can REALLY Sing.


                                                   Load It In

                            Video Carpenter - Houston We Have A Problem


                             Andrew Burnette still smiling at 2am

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