The last month has been nothing but a blur for me. My schedule is always hectic. Wife. Kids. Grandkids. Radio stations. Family. Hockey and everything and anything else that comes my way. I really wouldn’t have it any other way. The last month has been a hell of a ride with our Be A Rock Star For A Day contest on 98.5 WCKM. When the contest was proposed to me and I was told we were doing it, I had less than a week to get things together and to have the contest going. I really didn’t know what to expect. I’ve been promoting events ever since I was a young kid. I was very apprehensive about this contest. To say I was going to be hopeful for 10 or 12 contestants for the whole run of it would not be to far from the truth.
The first night at the Blue Moose, 10 performers showed up. Beyond anything I could have imagined. The next week at the Full Moon, five entertainers were there. The last of the qualifying weeks at JP Bruno’s, 15 performers got on stage to show their goods. A couple of things that impressed me: Each venue was packed! I do go out and see our local talent a lot but the response was unreal! The musicians were all great. There wasn’t a dog of a performance. There was a great variety of music. And the musicians were able to play original material. For them, to be able to play their own music in front of crowds that were there to see them was incredible.
Putting the contest together, I knew the qualifying rounds would be based entirely on audience response. The key to judging that was to have my people, Lee Pecue, Roberta Carruthers, John Pratt and myself at different locations in each venue. It was a better way to monitor the applause. I also knew that the finals were going to be a slightly different animal. It was decided that 50% of the score would be based on audience response. The other 50% would be based on a panel of judges. I wanted to make sure our panel had a variety of people that would come from different backgrounds. A marketing manager. A promoter. A lead singer of a rock band. An organizer, promoter & performer. And an arts editor. The five judges were great and took the task very seriously.
The night of the finals at Sandy’s Clam Bar was one of those nights you look back and say “Wow.” The response was awesome. All the performers were excellent. It was indeed a happening. To say the three qualifying rounds and the finals were perfect would be an understatement. Rich Ortiz came away the winner and he was ready to rock.
Less than a week later, Rich was preparing to open for rock ‘n roll legends, Ted Nugent, STYX and REO Speedwagon. When working with major league talent, you never know how you are going to be treated. That was a concern for both Rich and me. Rich deserved to be treated with the respect that is due to him being a professional for over 17 years. I just wanted to be able to get on stage and tell the very quick story of the contest. Neither of us knew what was going to happen.
Rich and I finally got down to the stage to do a sound check at 5:30 for a show that had the doors open at 6. Both of us very apprehensive about how we were going to be treated. At 5:31, it all changed. The stage crew, sound crew, the techs for the bands, the band members and everyone involved with the production were beyond great. Rich and I were put at ease. It really was perfect. Rich had a great set. I had a great promotion. The show went on. Not too bad for something that I threw together on the fly. As Hannibal Smith from the A-Team used to say, “I love it when a plan comes together.”