Sit a spell with Ali Giampino—a smokin'-hot Midwestern mom of two who still loves Journey, makes sure Southern Culture on the Skids get their fried chicken, and won't stop believin' in the bands she books, from Neko to Sufjan.
Basically, I receive and send out over a hundred e-mails a day while juggling three phone lines! My roster includes 23 bands, and at any given time, I am working on [booking] 10 tours. In a nutshell: After coordinating my artists' schedules, I route their tours by placing holds on venues, making sure the drive distances aren't too far between cities. I negotiate with talent buyers to determine ticket prices and compensation for the artists as well as pitch all of my artists to most of the festivals around the country. Along with their record label and management, I help to determine support acts.
How did you get your start in the music (under)world?
I worked my way through college by bartending and cocktail waitressing at several live music venues in Chicago. I became very interested in the type of music that was being brought into these clubs and also promoted a few concerts of my own. Shortly after, I started working for a manager and booked tours for the Mighty Blue Kings, a popular local Chicago band. This led me to my current path of being a booking agent.
What was the first live show you ever attended?
My first show was when I was 11 . . . Bryan Adams and Journey. Have to admit that I still LOVE Journey.
Favorite bands you've booked tours for and why:
My favorite bands to book tours for would have to be Calexico, Neko Case, and Sufjan Stevens. I am so inspired by their talent and dedication to their craft. I've really enjoyed watching all three bands grow from playing 200-capacity rooms into playing 2,000-capacity rooms and many of the largest festivals in North America.
Band you've booked the longest:
Man or Astro-Man? While they currently don't tour . . . they did just play the Touch and Go Anniversary show in Chicago a few months ago. I have been working with them for over 11 years!
Most frustration-inducing tour you've ever had to book:
I don't think I can single out any tour that has been the most frustrating, but it is always difficult when you are relying on other people to take care of business. I put my faith and trust in the hands of promoters, and at times they don't properly promote the show or treat the artist with respect. It can also be very frustrating when a band requests things like, "I want to open up for Bruce Springsteen or Bob Dylan," and I know I can't make that happen for them. It's always best when an artist doesn't have delusions of grandeur.
Thing about your job that keeps you from closing the curtain:
While I do enjoy the fact that I can work from home, I think the best part is being able to see so many live concerts. Music inspires me.
Your favorite venue to work with and why:
This is beyond impossible to choose one venue! But I do have a soft spot for the Metro in Chicago because I saw some of my favorite concerts there as a teenager.
Funniest, longest, or oddest rider:
Oddest rider: Southern Culture on the Skids require an eight-piece box of fried chicken on their rider or there is no show. During their performance, they throw the chicken to the hungry audience members while they sing their song called "Eight Piece Box."
Best show you've seen one of your bands give while touring through Seattle:
I loved the first time I saw Joanna Newsom at Neumo's. The show wasn't very well attended, but she blew everyone away, including me. It was a very special moment—I feel she is a very unique artist with loads of talent. Six months later, I brought a skeptical music writer to another one of her shows, and she brought that writer to tears. How often does that happen?
When not making it possible for fans to see the bands they love live, your time is filled with:
Taking care of the two most important people in the world to me . . . my sons, Max and Calvin.
Your top five records to listen to while:
Cooking breakfast on a Sunday morning: Neil Young, Harvest Moon; Neko Case, Canadian Amp; Belle & Sebastian, Life Pursuit of Happiness; Neil Diamond, 12 Songs; and Le Tigre, Le Tigre.
A weekly peek behind the curtain of the Emerald City music world, Behind the Scene sheds light on folks you won't see onstage, but who make it all happen.