Author Archives: Brad Strouse

Brad Strouse

About Brad Strouse

ECE Richmond agent, Brad Strouse, began his music industry career touring the country with seven smelly metalheads. He left the road and spent time working on the record label side of the business before transitioning to his current booking agent role. Brad is an avid vinyl collector, music listener, endurance athlete and Auburn Fan.

ECE Agent Life: Executing a Multi-Day Corporate Event at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

There are many meccas in this world, but, to music-lovers like myself, none is more important than the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I’ve dreamed about walking the halls, experiencing the formation and progression of modern music, and being a mere glass pane width away from inanimate objects that were present at pivotal moments in history. I recently got that chance to make my dreams a reality thanks to a corporate client who planned their annual sales awards banquet in those very hallowed halls. Following is a recap of my epic pilgrimage.

DAY ONE
After several months of collaborating with dynamite event planners, Crystal and Caitlin, at Amazae Events, researching entertainment options, hustling and long hours, it was finally time to put boots on the ground for this annual corporate event. I hit the ground running for an early morning flight from Richmond to Dulles to Cleveland. After scooping up a rental car, I headed for my downtown Cleveland hotel. I’m mostly oblivious to pro basketball or football, but it was hard to miss the multi-story banners touting the accomplishments of Lebron and his boys. I checked into my hotel and was excited to find a 180-degree view of the riverfront and FirstEnergy Stadium – home of the Browns! There was little time for rest as I headed over to Vault, a century-old bank vault beneath the Cleveland Trust Rotunda that has been restored and converted into a speakeasy-style cocktail lounge.

Later that evening as guests exited their awards dinner, they were greeted by two models in 1920’s flapper attire and two cigar girls passing out signature cocktails. They were shown down into the vault where they enjoyed hors d’oeuvres, drinks and an atmosphere like none other! As they made their way through the vault, they discovered a quartet playing upbeat jazz/swing. The female vocalist was decked out in a Gatsby-era headdress and pearls with the guys looking sharp in black tuxes. At the end of their tour, guests were met with brick wall – both literally and figuratively. Guarding the only closed door in the place was a Capone-era gangster who required a password for entry into the speakeasy room. The flappers had been dropping hints all night and the guests who were smart enough to put it all together were granted access to Vegas-quality blackjack and roulette tables complete with green visor wearing dealers and a private bar. Fingers were crossed that the party didn’t get raided by the men in blue!

As the laughter died down and the desserts dwindled, we called it a night and I headed back to the room for some much need sleep. The next day’s events were at the Hall of Fame. It was almost like Christmas Eve!

DAY TWO
The big day arrived! I sprung out of bed and raced to the valet to get my rental car. After a small hiccup where the valet couldn’t find my car (for 45+ minutes!), I drove a few short blocks to the gleaming, all glass Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I entered through the “VIP” entrance and began my solo walking tour. I passed under the CBGB awning and strolled past historic stage outfits, artist contracts from events like Woodstock, a motorcycle owned by Elvis, and so much more. I spent close to 30 minutes soaking in the energy from the Beatles exhibit. One of my favorite bands!

Soon enough, it was time to get down to business. I watched as Simply Irresistible’ s bus pulled into the parking lot. There couldn’t be a match more made in heaven than a tour bus full of eleven musicians and crew unloading in front of the memorial to all that is rock ‘n roll. We shared warm greetings and high fives as they loaded in, set up and sound checked.

In addition to Simply Irresistible, the evening’s entertainment featured a surprise special guest vocalist to join the band in the middle of the set to sing three hit songs. Who was this mystery guest? None other than Mark McGrath of the massively successful 90’s rock band, Sugar Ray. When he popped on stage during sound check, the entire museum lit up. A crowd of quiet strollers and school-aged children were treated to a living rock legend in the flesh! Only in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame could an unexpected surprise like that be possible.

While Simply Irresistible finished setting up, I headed outside as attendees arrived to find a heated tent with a bar, four food trucks and local musician, Nate Jones, on acoustic guitar. He mixed hits of every decade with hometown hero songs from bands like the Black Keys. Just as the attendees’ hands started to turn numb, we opened the doors to the Hall of Fame and Simply Irresistible kicked in.

Inside, attendees were treated to two floors of food, multiple bars, Hall of Fame exhibits and one of the top party bands in the nation! Simply Irresistible played three hours of continuous Motown, R&B, classic rock, and Top 40 hits. Vocalists moved constantly across the stage and the band put everything they had into the performance. Their trumpet player blew notes until he passed out! That’s commitment.

Midway through the night, the band paused to announce the surprise special guest. As Mark McGrath bounded on stage, the crowd went wild! People who were resting their sore dancing feet streamed to the stage from all corners of the venue. Simply Irresistible performed like they had been playing with Mark McGrath for years despite meeting him only hours before! The rock star belted out favorites “Fly,” Someday,” and “Every Morning” to a roaring crowd.

Around 11pm, the band announced their final song. Once wrapped, tired attendees headed for their shuttles. I hugged the members of Simply Irresistible and gave Mark McGrath a ride back to his hotel. I passed out in my bed around midnight.

This event was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. I have absolute respect for the ballrooms of the world, but a chance to produce an event in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with one of the nation’s most elite party bands, a true rock legend, and a client who trusted me to create an unforgettable entertainment experience was mind-blowing!

Rock on, fellow music lovers!

Brad Strouse
ECE Richmond agent, Brad Strouse, began his music industry career touring the country with seven smelly metalheads. He left the road and spent time working on the record label side of the business before transitioning to his current booking agent role. Brad is an avid vinyl collector, music listener, endurance athlete and Auburn Fan.

Event Recap: The Annual IEBA Conference | Nashville, TN

For every Tim McGraw festival show or ZZ Top private performance there is a team of agents, managers, talent buyers, and tour crew behind the scenes negotiating contracts, setting up sound/lights, and making sure everything runs smoothly. National talent buying is something EastCoast Entertainment is known for globally and now more than ever we are proud to say we are a multi-award winning team of specialists committed to putting on the highest quality shows for you and your client.

A few weeks ago we recognized Mark Letson, ECE partner and National Talent Buying Director, who was named by IEBA as the 2016 Corporate Buyer of the Year and I was lucky enough to be sitting in the audience when his name was called. As a first time attendee of the International Entertainment Buyers Association’s (IEBA) annual conference I wanted to share a few national buying trends and the reason it’s important to use a specialist when planning your event.

CONFERENCE IMPORTANCE
The IEBA annual conference is held in Nashville (my adopted hometown) every year and offers a chance for buyers to meet face to face with booking agents, artists and their colleagues in the entertainment industry. It’s three days full of networking mixers, showcases and hotel room meetings that allows agents and artists alike to fill their calendars for the next year or more. Being the new guy in town, I got a chance to sit and observe Mark and ECE Atlanta Location Managing Director/Partner Rick Stowe meet with the heads of agencies like William Morris, CAA and APA. It was exciting to see the respect they were given and the longstanding business and personal relationships they held with the people responsible for the careers of everyone from Mariah Carey to Eric Church. No one else could get these type of deals done and Mark and Rick do it with a smile while swapping stories about kids and sports.

There is a hierarchy to everything and this conference is not unique. It features professionals who buy for everything from small county fairs to the heads of Coachella and nationally recognized venues like the Ryman and Madison Square Garden. The way I see it, the higher in the hotel you are meeting, the higher the dollar amounts being discussed. Deals were being struck in the hotel lobby, on the Penthouse floor and the highest dollar dates (and the best stories) are discussed over expensive meals lasting several courses/hours. As a fly on the wall, I heard breaking news about partial reunions, global tours for artists who swore they’d never play together again, and much more. These meetings are the reason EastCoast Entertainment is on the cutting edge year after year. Respect and trust are earned and with 20+ years and thousands of successful shows under our belts most of these agents can’t wait to share the exciting things their artists are up to for the coming year with our team.

TRENDS
The value in the IEBA conference is talking with buyers from across the country about what’s working in their markets, where they see the industry heading and experiencing the agency artist showcases together. Both young artists and globally recognized names are given four song sets to display their talents and, man, is it a good time. Here are the three types of artists that are trending this year:

Legacy Acts
These are the bands who have consistently cranked out hit album after album and have decades of performing under their belts. They are guaranteed to provide a family/corporate friendly show with a song list featuring recognizable song after song. This year we saw LeAnn Rimes, Sister Hazel, Toad the Wet Sprocket, The Commodores, Three Dog Night, Lou Gramm, The Spinners, Rick Astley, and more.


Fresh Talent

These are the acts with something to prove. Their sets are high energy and geared towards a younger crowd. Perfect for outdoor festivals like Richmond’s Friday Cheers. This year we saw Judah and the Lion, Brandy Clark, Abi Ann, Morgan James, Welshly Arms, The Last Bandoleros, American Authors, and the Plain White T’s.


Internet/Reality TV Sensations
These faces are instantly recognizable to anyone under the age of 20 and some stars of shows like American Idol are household names. Most of these artists show up at fairs, festivals, and events like large scale mall openings where the audience is full of young kids, teenagers, and their parents. This year we saw Danny Gokey, Jordan Fisher, Kane Brown, Megan & Liz, and more.

Keep an eye out for these artists at your local fairs and festivals this year and be sure to contact EastCoast Entertainment if you’d like to provide your clients and guests with the chance of a lifetime to see their favorite artists in a private or corporate setting.

Here is a picture of Mark Letson hanging with Garth Brooks backstage at the awards ceremony!

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Brad Strouse
ECE Richmond agent, Brad Strouse, began his music industry career touring the country with seven smelly metalheads. He left the road and spent time working on the record label side of the business before transitioning to his current booking agent role. Brad is an avid vinyl collector, music listener, endurance athlete and Auburn Fan.

Make a Splash: 3 Ways to Elevate Your Next Pool Party

Pool party ideas

Pool parties are synonymous with summer fun and a no-brainer for beating the East Coast heat and humidity. Graduation parties, family reunions, social gatherings, birthday parties and neighborhood block parties can all take place around the pool and make for a truly memorable occasion. With the smell of BBQ in your nose and the sizzle of the grill in your ears, a ton of planning isn’t needed for this type of summer soiree. However, if you want to elevate your next event, the following three ways will create a splash both in and out of the water.

CHOOSE A THEME
Nothing says summer fun like a classic luau. Dress your guests in Hawaiian shirts, throw an umbrella in your drink and hire a steel drummer or pan steel band. Steel drummers bring the music and the vibe of the Caribbean to your backyard. They can play everything from traditional music to Bob Marley and even your favorite pop songs!

steel drum

For a twist, choose a character-based theme. Pirates, flamingos, mermaids, and water-friendly cartoon characters can all be fun ways to jazz up a pool party. Hire a character actor to mingle with your guests, take pictures and even entertain the crowd using the pool. We’ve seen pirates walk the diving board plank, flamingo stilt-walkers flock the pool perimeter, mermaids inhabit the deep end and even SpongeBob pass out popsicles.

GO BIG
Everyone loves a surprise! I recently produced the entertainment for a 250+ person backyard pool party which included enough sound/lights to fill a small theater, a DJ spinning handmade mixes of everything from modern country to Taylor Swift and a group of Broadway vets who surprised the crowd with a fully customized take on the famed Jersey Boys show. They pulled one of the hosts on stage for a romantic ballad, integrated family nicknames into the story line and had every single guest dancing and singing along at the top of their lungs.

Pool party ideas

THINK OUTSIDE THE POOL-SHAPED BOX
Use your pool as a stage! Imagine treating your family to a synchronized swimming show. What if acrobats in floating orbs walked on water while your guests sipped lemonade? What if a Mariachi band serenaded your friends as they sipped margaritas? There are tons of fun ways to utilize the pool area without breaking out the bathing suits.

Orb floater

Another cool idea is to utilize projection mapping which is now easy and affordable. Cover your pool surface with ping pong balls, project anything from video to music based imagery on top, and invite your guests to dive in as part of an interactive art performance.

There’s still plenty of summer left and plenty of time to turn that rectangle in the backyard into an aqua theater of Vegas-size proportions! Ditch the pool-side boom box and let us help you create an unforgettable summertime experience.

Brad Strouse
ECE Richmond agent, Brad Strouse, began his music industry career touring the country with seven smelly metalheads. He left the road and spent time working on the record label side of the business before transitioning to his current booking agent role. Brad is an avid vinyl collector, music listener, endurance athlete and Auburn Fan.