More from Tupelo Elvis Presley Festival HQ

If you saw today’s Daily Journal, you no doubt saw my story about how the Tupelo Elvis Presley Festival organizers choose a headliner.

When I met with festival exec director Debbie Brangenberg and Megan Daniel, marketing program associate and event coordinator, last week, we talked about all aspects of the festival headliner.

Here’s a little extra info I couldn’t get into the story…

I talked with Brangenberg and Daniel about local musicians at the Tupelo EP Festival. Last year there were lots of local bands and singers, and Brangenberg hopes to have just as many this year. She said she hopes the festival will give any local artists a chance to be heard.

“We look at that as, how did Elvis get started? Somebody let him be heard,” Brangenberg said.

I asked Daniel and Bragenberg what it’s like backstage at the Tupelo Elvis Presley Festival, especially when the headliner is about to go on.

“It’s not nearly as glamorous as people think it is,” Brangenberg said. “(Festival goers) think you get to meet the artist, but nine times out of 10, you might see them as they pass by the stage…They might have maybe 30 minutes for photo ops, and it’s bam, bam, bam, bam, bam…People think it’s a big party, but it’s not.”

The backstage also depends on the artists’ rider (a contract rider specifies everything from details about the stage to what kinds of foods are needed to feed the artist/crew). Sometimes an artist will say that only so many folks are allowed to see the show from the side stage, Brangenberg said, while other artists will specify that no one is allowed to watch from the side of the stage.

Sometimes the craziest info is in a rider – you’ve probably heard rumors that some stars request certain kinds foods (like only green M&Ms) or that they want all of their backstage furniture to be a certain color. Sometimes it’s really important information – for example, it will explain food allergies – but other times it can be an insane lists of an artist’s likes and dislikes. I asked Daniel and Brangenberg if they’d ever read anything crazy in a rider.

“Some are just funny,” Daniel said. “One man asked for Coco Pebbles. What would a 30-year-old man want with Coco Pebbles?”

Some ask for things for their families, if they have their spouses and children on the road with them. “I’ve seen everything from a case of diapers to a dozen pairs of white tube socks,” Brangenberg said. “Some specify that they want black towels.”

If you’re interesting in reading artists’ riders, check out this page from The Smoking Gun which lists various artists’ riders.