Management, where to begin, I’d have to say growing up in Green Bay, WI and having to manage my own music career from a young age I just fell into the position. I knew I had a lot to learn and it was my ultimate goal of managing a band whether mine or another to get out of Green Bay, so I set out to find my destiny in the big world of the music management business. And sure enough I had promoted a few concerts at my high school as student council president and upon graduation in 1975 was offered a job in Madison, Wisconsin at McMillion & Clary Talent (the coolest hold over hippie booking agency left in Madison from the 60’s) and since I was attending UW-Madison for my freshman year of college it was just the opportunity to be booking bands, like Circus, Touge, Punch, Tony Brown, Yipes, and then a young Cheap Trick and had my first interaction with a real music manager (Ken Adamany) whose company Adamany & Toller managed Cheap Trick and surprisingly Ken called me after I had booked a date for the band and asked if I wanted to work for his management company, Adamany & Toller who managed Cheap Trick, who had just added Robin Zander as lead singer. I had to pass explaining to Ken that this agency gave me this job out of high school and I felt obligated to stay with them, he appreciated my loyalty, and I went on to work with Ken with many of his bands Luther Allison, Cheap Trick and OFF Broadway in years to come.
My first real management position was as stage manager for a promotion promoted by the booking agency I was working for, it was trial by fire as the show was Ted Nugent & the Amboy Dukes, Styxe, Head East and Punch all in one night! It would be the first of many promotions I would be dealing with, agents, managers, road managers and the acts themselves. My favorite story from those early days was the day the band Yipes who I was booking and really felt could break out of Wisconsin, as the whole band lead by Pat McCurdy came to my desk and announced that they wanted me to manage their band, honored as I was I asked why me (as I really was not a big time manager) they said you’re Jewish and the Beatles manager was Jewish so they thought that was the ticket, I cordially passed but did all I could do to help them find the right manager and a record contract.
Reality really started to set in 1977 when I managed to move my band out to Los Angeles to make our mark or at least give it a good college try. After a year of working, meeting and playing with other musicians, recording, acting and performing and most of all watching and learning the ins and outs of the entertainment business, I moved back to Green Bay to pursue a promotion and managing position in my home town, establishing my first promoting company (Big Deal Productions) and my official
management company to this day (Miller Management) along with (Notion Promotions) to advertise and promote my endeavors and for the next 25 years, I worked with every major touring act and their agents, managers, road managers and most of all the acts themselves, seeing top professionals up close and interacting with them at the high level that they were accustomed to. All the while personally managing local acts (Fun w/ Atoms) managing them to their first album (The Tyrants & The Minors) managing them to their first singles and always managing to have my acts open shows for national acts, guiding them through this difficult but rewarding position on a concert promotion. My management theory was and always has been to listen to the artist’s goals and desires for their careers, and to try to achieve these goals even if it meant they would move on from me to the next level without me.
Then in 1996 having managed the entertainment for the Carlton West Dinner Theater for 5 years and having two of my own venues The Maribel Caves and then City Centre Theatre I felt my time had come for a change, I remarried and moved to Door County and managed and ran an art gallery for almost 12 years and just when I thought I was out I got an opportunity to move to Minneapolis to work for ESI (Entertainment Services International), interesting note- (in Minnesota you can manage and book an artist, in Wisconsin you can’t) ESI is a classic rock booking agency (now located in Colorado) which also exclusively managed many of the acts they booked (Mitch Ryder, The Guess Who, Ozark Mt. Daredevils and more). I dove right back in to booking and managing our artists all over the world. Also bringing into the agency (The Nylons from Canada who had a great manager Paul Ryan) who I learned a great deal from, and did some road managing of tours I would book, and acting as booking agent, road manager, and opening act, I kind of liked doing it all for them. I also managed to put together The Driftbenders, which was an acoustic duo of Joey Molland of Badfinger & Phil Solom of The Rembrandts. They played their hits together acoustically and it was terrific. I also got to road manage and open shows for them as well. After 8 years of wonderful experiences and working with some of the biggest artists, promoters, managers, venues and living right in back of Paisley Park (Prince’s studio) with a few interesting interactions there as well (those stories also will be in the book) and recording my second album Alias Smith & Jones, (Debut/Farewell) co-produced by Matt Fink and Phil Solom. It was time to move back to Green Bay.
Now here in Green Bay for the last 7 years pursuing my personal music and management opportunities.
Currently managing 3 artists; the first The Rag Tag Misfits from Liverpool England who initially I formed a band with myself and Paul Hendricks and Helly and Andy Bridge called Helly & The Dazers (how we met, long story also in the book) but we achieved great things in a short time, on our 2nd U.S. tour winning the prestigious Dylan Days Singer Songwriter contest in Hibbing, MN, then going on to play the Steel Bridge Festival and then the two Brits headed home to continue performing as the duo now known as The Rag Tag Misfits here are links for further information on them.
RAG TAG MISFITS
The Rag Tag Misfits are a British acoustic duo hailing from Liverpool in the Northwest of England and consisting of Husband and Wife team Helly & Andy. Formed in 2014 and married in 2016 the two originally started out as street entertainers gaining popularity in their local area.
Using their love of music to make a difference the Rag Tag Misfits completed a mammoth busking challenge to raise money and awareness for homelessness and food banks. Their hard work, dedication and “Sing for Your Supper” challenge created a huge amount of awareness, money and exciting opportunities which led to radio play with local and BBC radio stations, TV performances and performances worldwide. They have over 1000 gigs in the bag to audiences big and small and continue to perform at any given opportunity. If they are not gigging they will find work by taking to the streets for a 5 hour busking session.
Using Acoustic Guitar with a bass pickup, Cajon, Vocals & Harmonica the Rag Tag Misfits create a unique brand of live music. Inspired by a life on the road, the Rag Tag Misfits have been captivating audiences with percussive foot stomping music and heartfelt lyrics. Traveling Troubadours, buskers or minstrels and First Place Winners of the Dylan Days song writing festival in Minnesota, USA the Rag Tag Misfits have toured around the UK, Europe, USA and New Zealand showcasing their music.
With 3 independently released albums in the bag their most recent called “Out of Time” which was launched in HMV, Liverpool, has been well recieved by media and radio play. In addition to performing at festivals, gigs and on the streets, their musical adventures have led to a support slot with “Dodgy” & several performances in USA, Europe & New Zealand including Earth Garden festival in Malta.
On their USA adventures, they performed to a crowd of 1300 at the prestigious House of Blues in Chicago. They shared the stage with the sensational singer/songwriter Mitch Ryder of The Detroit Wheels and Joey Molland of Badfinger. Topped with a jam with Dickey Betts of The Allman Brothers and then recording original tracks on a collaborated album at Matt Finks studio of Prince & The Revolution. It was here they also collaborated with Phil Solem of The Rembrants. Amongst many they were also introduced to Mark Hudson, Buddy Guy, Deuce Newton and Pat Macdonald.
With different sized PA’s, an extensive amount of original material and over 5 hours of cover music they can cater for all events. They have extensive studio and radio experience and perform live on a daily basis. They have performed pretty much everywhere from Barns to Cathedrals and Concert Halls to Piers. From Festivals and Radio Stations and Weddings to House Concerts. With surprise wedding proposals right through to hen parties and Christenings they follow every genuine opportunity that is thrown at them.
The second Vincent van Hessen from Israel by way of Amsterdam, Vincent being one of the most impressive live street performers (busker) I had ever seen (full story of how we met in the book as well) upon bringing to the U.S. we proceeded to record his first all original album The Vince Sea with Phil Solom producing, and playing along with Joey Molland as special guests. I managed to have him play the very prestigious Dinner in White and we were a hairs breath away from opening a show for Ginger Baker at the Dakota in Minneapolis. But in management I’m always honest with my clients as you can’t always get what you want, you get the picture, it’s a struggle because there are so many great artists out there but I really believe Vincent is quite exceptional which is why I continue to manage and believe in him.
VINCENT VAN HESSEN
An unusual name for an unusual person.
Looking at the name one might associate it with a boring aristocratic stiff upper lip royalty, but the very opposite is more true, for Vincent van Hessen tanned by birth, Is a busking world traveler, creator, composer, singer-songwriter and small practically almost invisible: YouTuber.
Earns his living off live musical performances, predominately as a busker, alternately performing weddings, birthday bashes and festivals, all over the European continent and beyond.
Vincent’s advantageous busking career came to fruition in the subway system of NYC in the year 2008 after having lost a day job due to the looming financial crisis. Albeit quite reluctantly, in an attempt to earn a living as a busker just to be able to pay rent and put some food on a table he didn’t even own, in the comfort of his upper westside sublet room.
Before long this lifestyle seemed favorable and conducive to his musical
growth, earning a buck, and improving on audience traction overall. By 2009/10 Vincent was busking in Amsterdam full time, but after the city became somewhat too densely populated with scores of buskers from all over the world.
Busking tours were initiated to countries such as Slovenia, Croatia, or Serbia where Northern European buskers seemed to be somewhat scarce. Amsterdam remained Vincent’s main hub till around 2013 when busking activities in the Dutch capital became so-called “illegal”.
The show must go on, even a busking show. Vincent’s busking lifestyle was relocated to different European cities and even to farther remote continents such as Australia, and South East Asia.
Vincent leads a diverse lifestyle, just like his musical performance. In which multiple rhythms and styles alternate with the aid of a guitar and vocal dexterity.
Jeffery Miller of Green Bay Wisconsin USA, heard, saw, and met Vincent van Hessen in Amsterdam in 2012, a friendship was carved. Vincent was hence brought to the USA in 2013 for some recording sessions and meet and greet sessions. Out of which a CD album was produced under the supervision of Phil Solemn of the Rembrandts. The Miller management is a vital and important lifeline in Vincent’s career for almost a decade.
Be sure to check out a song or two off Vincent van Hessen’s show or online presence on YouTube, Facebook, and other social media platforms. It surely is “share on TikTok” worthy.
The third and newest client (as I refer to them) is Jonny Tristram from Cornwall England, a young singer songwriter guitar player I met in Amsterdam (I just have to tell that story) I would go down to this club in Amsterdam Central on open mic night ‘cause they had this kid who just wailed on guitar so it was fun for me and one night we’re jamming and this cute English girl comes up and asked if her boyfriend could get up and sing? I said I don’t know, can he? And she was so enthusiastic about him I said sure and we did Dylan’s (All Along the Watch Tower) and I’ve been a fan and working with him ever since, helping with his career goals including funding a caravan (that’s English for van) to tour England. Hope to bring him here next summer.
Jonny Tristram is from the small town of Northwich, in Cheshire, England. It was while visiting his Aunt, some 5000 miles away in Houston Texas attending open mics in the bay area of Kemah that he struck up a random friendship with a leading NASA engineer from Houston’s space center.
Inspired by the generous gift of a brand new acoustic guitar Jonny set about writing songs about his life and all he saw around him.
What followed was over a decade on the road playing in UK, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and numerous vacations back to Houston have helped create a sound and a story that everyone should hear.
Blessed with an uncanny ability to pour heart, empathy, honesty and truth into every song he’s written Jonny holds nothing back.
His new album unsurprisingly named “Houston” is the result of a life of hard work and dedication which helps remind us what music is really for. It’s a roller coaster of emotions true to life and is certain to have you smiling like a Cheshire Cat while singing along to his hooky choruses.
I have done short stints with a few other artists over the past 7 years, with L Victoria from Venezuela, Courtney Yasmineh from Minneapolis, Luke LeBlanc AKA Little Diamonds then just 13 years old, I managed to get him his first recorded album and to open for many national touring acts. With all of my clients achieving goals and then moving forward with their careers. All doing well I’m glad to say.
Now with the primary focus on managing my band and focusing in on the 3 clients I currently represent, the synergy and interaction both musically and managerially works for me, so I’m just going to keep on keeping on and glad to have you all along for the ride.