Friday, July 25, 2008

GRAMMY Campers All Access at Steely Dan
by Sarah Tither-Kaplan

GRAMMY® Campers in the concert promotion/music journalism track got an incredible opportunity to experience the process of producing a concert first-hand, backstage at Steely Dan.

We went to the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles with concert promotion instructor Susan Rosenbluth. We toured the entire facility, from the tunnel connecting Staples Center, where we saw the X-Games load-in, and the Nokia, to side stage during Steely Dan's soundcheck. We met with industry professionals such as the band's tour management, the venue staff, the artist liaison, the promoter reps, and venue managers. We were able to learn about budgeting, production, and settlements, and stand in an elevator with Walter Becker.

We even got to experience backstage tour catering. Kwasi Fordjour, Jenay Ross, Dertrick Winn, Julia Berlin, me, and our journalism instructor, Steve Baltin enjoyed full service gourmet catering from Culinary Underground. While music engineers were working tirelessly at Capitol Records, music journalism/concert promotion students learned how to enjoy the perks of working on major tours. "This is the best thing ever," said Jenay Ross as she ate the homemade donuts. I couldn't stop myself from sampling every one of the vegetarian entrees and about ten of the desserts.

Once we were able to walk again after stuffing ourselves we went up to a private box with a great view of the stage. Steely Dan came on and the crowd erupted and the two-hour long set began. The musicians playing behind Walter Becker and Donald Fagen were absolutely incredible. As an aspiring drummer I was most impressed by the drummer; I couldn't believe his creativity, endurance, and skill, and I made a mental note to go home and practice. We were all grateful for the opportunity to see such an influential band play live.

After the show, we all felt like big shots as we walked through the VIP area and went back to the production offices. We realized how spoiled we've gotten after going to a Fall Out Boy show in a stretch limo, and getting this all access Steely Dan experience. Naturally we felt a little guilty about getting all these incredible GRAMMY Camp sponsored opportunities, so we made sure to photocopy a Steely Dan set list to give to our incredibly jealous parents. As we got back to the dorms, we passed our friends in the halls. When they asked us where we had been we replied, "No big deal, we were just backstage at a Steely Dan show."

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