Mark Workmanâ€™s guide for the professional or would-be professional tour manager is encyclopedic in scope and detailed yet is often entertaining due to Workmanâ€™s pithy delivery (complete with Star Wars allusions), anecdotes, and humorous asides.
Markâ€™s history is with heavy metal (Testament, Megadeth, Slayer, Exodus, etc.), but the mechanics and logistics of his overview is applicable to any touring band. Â While he does not say so, I think managing any touring arts ensemble such as scholastic or theater groups will be easier after reading this work.
Not only has Workman organized an impressive body of knowledge around his craft, he also imparts wisdom earned as a music industry professional marking him as an educator with a direct story to tell that is at times gritty and insightful. The coherent book is organized into logical sections such as budgets and booking, contracts and catering. This will make the book serve as a reference work as well as a map to get a career off on the right foot.
Toward the end, Workman offers â€œIâ€™ve made many mistakes in my life because of the Three Deadly Bâ€™s: broads, blow, and booze; but thatâ€™s a whole other book.â€ I hope that book happens so that I can read it. However, this is not that book and anyone picking it up expecting salacious backstage revelations will be disappointed. Examples from his career are generally sterilized of names and places and meant to edify, not entertain. Probably the juiciest is a tale of drawing down on a recalcitrant promoter: â€œTestamentâ€™s vocalist Chuck Billy and I dragged the promoter into my production office and held him at gunpoint with Chuckâ€™s sawed-off shotgun and a 9mm pistol belonging to our sound crew chiefâ€”who shall remain nameless because heâ€™s a big promoter rep todayâ€”in an effort to get the money he stole from the band.â€
In a particularly interesting passage, Workman goes to some length to decry Great White and their lethal pyrotechnics mishap: â€œThere was once a day when a promoter could get away with selling tickets beyond the legal capacity of a venue, but thatâ€™s a dangerous game to play today. Local Fire Marshals are much stricter about violations and will shut a concert down in two seconds if the promoter exceeds the legal capacity. They have been vigilant ever since one hundred people were burned alive and more than two hundred were injured at a 2003 Great White concert at The Station nightclub in Rhode Island when the bandâ€™s idiot road manager ignited pyrotechnics and burned the club to the ground.â€
Workman uses this tragedy to underscore the responsibility of the road manager: â€œWhile I believe that the bandâ€™s inexperienced road manager was a scapegoat hung out to dry by the band membersâ€”who should have also gone to prisonâ€”he was still the one who ignited open flame in a packed club with low ceilings and no permit…â€
To end with highlighting the wisdom shared by Workman, he waxes very philosophical and this quote summarizes his reflections: â€œI have no real regrets in life except for not being a better husband to my ex-wife Nicolette and for not being there for my family when theyâ€™ve needed me most. People can be crushed beneath the massive burden called guilt if they donâ€™t allow themselves to set it down and walk away from it once and for all.â€
Workman tells you how to become a road manager, be a good one, and ultimately when to stop.
Book review by special guest contributor, Tom Schulte. Check out Tom’s site Outsight Radio Hours. Two hours of new and/or non-mainstream music with interview guests. Keeping freeform alive!
More about One For The Road and Mark Workman:
One for the Road: How to Be a Music Tour Manager includes an insightful foreword written by Testament lead guitarist, Alex Skolnick.
Mark Workman has been a successful tour manager and lighting designer in the music business since 1983. His list of past and present clients includes Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer, Testament, Machine Head, Danzig, Mudvayne, Dio, Queens of the Stone Age, Devildriver, Soulfly, Sepultura and many others.
As a lighting designer, Mark Workman has designed high-impact lighting performances for many music tours, including the infamous Clash of the Titans (Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax, Testament, Alice In Chains, & Suicidal Tendencies) in 1990/1991 and American Carnage 2010 (Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax & Testament), as well as for many music videos and live DVDs such as Machine Headâ€™s Elegies DVD filmed at Brixton Academy in London, Megadethâ€™s Rust In Peace Live DVD shot at the Hollywood Palladium, and Testamentâ€™s Dark Roots of Thrash Live DVD shot at the Paramount Theater in Huntington, NY.
Mark Workman is also a former boxing writer whose feature articles have appeared on BoxingScene and Fox Sports.
Mark Workman’s upcoming memoir, Hunger For Hell, will be released in 2014.
Make sure you read the interview with Mark Workman.