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On February 24th the 5th Annual Matagorda County Fair Music Concert was held in Bay City, Texas. The headliners for this concert were Stoney LaRue along with Wade Bowen. TSE is privileged to work with the Matagorda County Fair Association as its country music booking agency.  MCFA has been around since 1944. They do so much for the youth in this county with scholarships, mentorships, youth and adult rodeos, and other annual activities that includes booking bull riding and other shows at their rodeo facility.

The Role of the Country Music Booking Agency is Much More than Booking

Planning and carrying out an outdoor concert like this starts well in advance of the concert date. In this case, August of last year, when the MCFA committee chose potential artists they were interested in booking for their entertainment. It was then up to TSE, as their entertainment booking agency, to get artist performance fees and availability to make sure the bookings fit their budget. In this case Wade Bowen and Stoney LaRue were the perfect match.

As part of the country music booking process, TSE Entertainment works with the artists management and tour manager to work out prerequisites needed to stage and promote the show. This includes getting promotional materials, i.e., photos, videos, bios, and press information needed by the show’s promoters. For the MCFA, it even included compressing videos, so they could be used by the MCFA on their Facebook page. It also means getting hospitality arrangements in place for dressing, food, lodging, transportation, etc. Getting the right artists booked is the first of 4 pillars for a successful concert.

The Other 3 Pillars of a Good Concert: Staging, Sound and Lighting

This country music booking agency also goes about and acquires the other technical things necessary to put on a live concert event.  The most important things, besides the right artists, is the staging, sound, and lighting.

The stage is the first thing that must be place before the sound and lighting contractor arrive to put into place their part of the show set-up. A country music booking agency will typically book the stage for the show. For this show, TSE booked the stage from TMS Leasing of Waco, Texas. They arrived two days before the concert to set up a SL-260 covered portable stage that is 32’ X 24’. This doesn’t include the side extensions. An additional 8’ extension on stage right and 4’ extension on stage left were also added to the stage.

TSE, the country music booking agency for this event, also contracts with a Sound and Light company that will meet the technical “Riders” requirements of both entertainers. TSE chose Power Factory Productions of Houston, Texas.  This company is experienced in doing shows this big, 2,000 to 10,000 or more fans.

This concert event was held at the Rodeo Arena at the Matagorda County, Texas Fairgrounds. The sound company arrives at the site of the event the day before to start setting up a massive amount of equipment. In their group are a sound engineer, lighting tech, sound tech and 4 stage hands.

Prior to the sound company arriving, the MCFA committee takes care of the power requirement for the concert by bringing in two separate 70 KW generators; one for lights, the other for sound. The reason for two separate generators is to separate the power for the lights and the sound so the lights will not interfere with the sound quality.

One of the stage extensions allows the sound company to utilize this space for mixing the stage monitors. Stage monitors allow the band to hear themselves and are a very critical to a successful artists performance.

For example, Ringo Starr of the Beatles, said they quit touring primarily because it was so loud from crowd noise on stage that they couldn’t hear themselves. This was before there was good ‘’stage monitoring’’ as there is now. In fact, ear monitors are slowly taking over this job instead of “wedges’’ or speakers in wedge cabinets spaced all over the stage floor so the musicians could hear themselves. If you look at any concert, whether live or on television, you’ll see these speakers placed all over the stage floor… along with cheat notes for the words of songs and other notes like announcements, etc.

The stage, sound and lighting are all in place when the bands roll in the morning of the show. In this case, Stoney LaRue came in from Odessa, Texas from playing the night before; an 8-hour, 520-mile run. Whew! Life on the road can be tough. Luckily, Wade Bowen and his Band came in from playing Austin the night before.

Booking Country Music Entertainers Means Keeping Them Happy

When they arrive, it’s “All Hands on Deck,” getting their equipment on stage and getting their sound check done. They are routinely tired and hungry.  TSE entertainment, the booking agency for the event, handled all the hospitality rider arrangements for the performers. TSE made sure they got fed; furnished drivers to deliver them to their hotel rooms to get some rest and clean up; and picked them up in time to get back, have their dinner and get ready for the show. For the Matagorda County Fair Concert, The Run & Gun Lodge furnished rooms and provided snacks and such for the bands and sound and light crew. They were excellent hosts! This place even has a stocked fishing lake in front of it!

After all this is done and the crowd is in place and ready for the show, there is normally a “meet and greet’’ a half hour before it.  A selected group of people is escorted backstage and get to meet Wade before his show and then Stoney before his.

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Author with Stoney LaRue

As you can see, the country music booking process does not only include booking the artists, but also providing the sound, lighting, and staging. TSE is there to make sure the event goes smoothly and give our clients piece of mind. At TSE Entertainment, we take great pride for being on site to handle all the little issues (green M&M’s) are taken care of. Next month we have several concerts including booking Martina McBride in Phoenix, AZ. We will update you on that show and others in a later post.

Mike Black

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