Think you have been to more concerts than anyone you know? Meet Ryan Williams, aka R-Dub. He probably has you beat.
His passion was born in 1994 at his first concert, 104 Fest at Riverside Park in New York. Since that day, he has seen 708 different bands, 215 of which he has seen more than once. His list spans all genres, including musicians like Aerosmith, Alanis Morrisette, Blake Shelton, Eminem, Fuel, Kayne West and The Verve Pipe. The two bands he has seen the most are Pearl Jam (11 times) and Korn (nine times).
Believe him? He has every single concert ticket and backstage pass (stored in chronological order) saved to prove it. And “yes, I have a spreadsheet of every band I have ever seen and how many times I have seen them,” he says.
It probably comes as no surprise then that R-Dub made his passion for music into a job. JHE’s senior production coordinator/concert producer narrowed down his top-10 concert experiences (and no it was not easy!):
Top-Five JHE Concerts:
1. Keith Urban at Daytona International Speedway (2009)
Most memorable moment: Prior to the main show, there was a media-only acoustic performance.
Most challenging production moment: It was the first performance where we did one song prior to TV taking it live, and there were some issues. The pre-show song saved the big show.
2. Three Days Grace at Richmond International Raceway (2008)
Most memorable AND challenging production moment: A tropical storm hit the city on the day the band was scheduled to land. Everything at the track was suspended for the day. We worked with management, the band and our client to reschedule everything and do a stripped down version of the show Sunday morning before the race.
3. Kid Rock at Homestead-Miami Speedway (2012)
Most memorable AND challenging production moment: Kid Rock travels with a large band so we had a lot more gear on the stage than we normally do for any performance. When Kid Rock and the Twisted Brown Trucker Band came out for the sound check, it all came together immediately and sounded perfect.
4. Orianthi at Daytona International Speedway (2012)
Most memorable moment: The production of this concert wasn’t hard; instead it was just really interesting to see someone with her credits playing at a race track. The night following opening ceremonies, she played an electric set in the fan zone. One of my personal favorite highlights was the “VooDoo Child” solo she played one-handed.
5. Red Hot Chili Peppers at Charlotte Motor Speedway (2006)
Most memorable moment: A late night jam session with the band.
Most challenging production moment: The band was scheduled to play two songs from the new album, “Stadium Arcadium,” in between segments at the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. Unfortunately, NASCAR schedules and band schedules rarely coincide with each other. When the race was starting back up, the band was midway through a third song they had decided to play on the fly.
Top-Five Personal Concerts:
1. Pearl Jam – Tweeter Center, Mansfield, Mass. (2003)
Pearl Jam booked three nights at the same venue and only repeated two songs over the course of three days. I happened to be at the show that featured an hourlong acoustic performance that opened the show. To date, it is still one of the longest “PJ” shows ever and a fan-favorite. When we go to see them, people are always surprised to hear I went to the “Mansfield 3.”
2. Bruce Springsteen – Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y. (2002)
I was asked by a co-worker at lunch if I was interested in going to the show. It was an easy choice to make on my end. Bruce was doing 10 days at MSG as part of the 2002 tour. It was great seeing an “evening with” such a big name at a historical venue.
3. Roger Waters – Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, N.C. (2013)
Seeing Roger Waters perform one of my favorite albums from start to finish was amazing, although the best moment was when he played “Comfortably Numb.” The level of production was like nothing I had ever seen before.
4. U2 – Atlanta Dome, Atlanta, Ga. (2009)
When U2 went out on the 360 Tour, there was a huge amount of media buzz about the stage and what the tour would be like. It still holds the record as the largest touring stage ever, the second time U2 has held that title. The fact that they had three replicas of the stage made it even more amazing. The most memorable moment was walking in and seeing “The Spaceship” stage. I was lucky enough to catch the show in Chicago in 2011 as well. U2 never puts on a bad show, and they didn’t disappoint with this tour.
5. Beastie Boys – Amos Southend, Charlotte, N.C. (2008)
In 2008, the Beastie Boys, Sheryl Crow and Santigold teamed up for a “Rock the Vote” Tour. Most of the shows were in theaters or arenas but Charlotte landed a club show. The venue sold out in less than five minutes. To see them on one of their final tours, up-close on a small stage, was something I will remember forever.
This list was almost impossible to make. Here are my five honorable mentions:
- Metallica – Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass. (2003)
- Guns N’ Roses – Hartford, Conn. (2002)
- Eminem and Jay Z – Yankee Stadium, Bronx, N.Y. (2010)
- Bob Dylan – University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, N.C. (2011)
- Foo Fighters – Atlanta, Ga. (2012)
Want to know what’s happening in the concert world? Find R-Dub on Twitter at @R_Dub81.
Ryan Williams, R-Dub, Aerosmith, Alanis Morrisette, Blake Shelton, Eminem, Fuel, Kayne West, The Verve Pipe, Pearl Jam, Korn, Keith Urban, Daytona International Speedway, Three Days Grace, Richmond International Raceway, Kid Rock, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Orianthi, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Charlotte Motor Speedway, NASCAR, Pearl Jam, Mansfield 3, Bruce Springsteen, Madison Square Garden, Tweeter Center, Roger Waters, Time Warner Cable Arena, U2, Atlanta Dome, Beastie Boys, Amos Southend
Near the end of my freshman year of college, I started to look for work for my summer break. A close friend of mine helped me get a position with a stage crew at a local Live Nation venue. With that, my career in live entertainment began. There was no training day or a “come in and get your feet wet” period; you had one chance to prove you could do it or look for work elsewhere.
On my first day, I was tasked with loading in Joni Mitchell and a 40-piece orchestra. All seemed to go well, and it was an easy start to a job. Within two weeks, I was loading in cathedral backdrops for Don Henley and setting up drums for Mike Portnoy. Over the summer, I worked close to 30 shows, covering every style of music possible. I also was tapped to be a runner since the venue was in my hometown and I could help with local needs. To pass time on long days, I also helped set up hospitality in the band’s dressing rooms.
At the time, I was studying for a job in radio broadcasting, so working the stage portion of the industry seemed to fit in pretty well. After working that first summer, I realized I enjoyed the live set up of a concert more than the “behind the mic” life of radio. There was never a better feeling of accomplishment than seeing a performance start from an empty stage and turn into a large-scale production, then disappear again within a few short hours. I would spend the next three years working at the theater on my breaks from school.
Although I enjoyed working the stage and live events, I was still in school pursuing my first love of radio. I served as an office assistant for a year, and then was promoted to the Loud Rock Music Director for the school’s radio station, WECS. My days were spent working with promotion companies in getting new and upcoming artists on the radio and played on our station. For two years, I worked charting “Spins” on our station, and reporting them to College Music Journal (CMJ) and the national publication, FMQB. I was also one of the directors for the station. I along with 2 other musical directors was responsible for schedules and monitoring the station while students and locals were on the air.
I also spent a year as a promotions intern at the local Hartford radio station, The Rock 106.9 WCCC. The station was an independent rock station that has been in Hartford for over 50 years. Constantly evolving to keep with the times, yet also playing host to classic rock, WCCC has always been a staple of Connecticut radio. It was also the first station in the US to give shock rock Howard Stern his own radio show.
My internship helped me get ready for JHE much like my stage job had. Get to an event, set it up in a short time, and execute something the fans would enjoy. We always had to look ahead for items that would cause a “hic-up” or impose a problem.
The basics I learned during my internship have proven true in my career at JHE. As the Senior Production Coordinator/Concert Producer, I have to remember to always be a step ahead, envision problems (and solutions) that could arise and be willing to be flexible. When I came to work at JHE, there were only a few live entertainment events on a large scale. I used the knowledge I had gained, along with time and dedication to prove I could successfully run big events like Food Lion Speed Street.
Over the years, I have used my knowledge and passion to continue to grow the department, enabling us to tackle any event thrown our way. JHE’s potential for further growth is exciting, and I’m looking forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
concerts, live entertainment, RDub