It's been a while since we've heard that question. Most people think of tour dates, like the new ones for Enuff Z'Nuff and Bare Jr., as being readily accessible at any time. They look upon services like Pollstar.com much the same way they look upon other utilities. They pay their monthly tour date bill at the same time they pay for cable TV, gas and water, and never think twice about the workings behind the scenes unless they miss a date for The Tubes Feat. Fee Waybill or repeated flushing fails to clear the bowl.
Thomas Edison once said that tour date tracking is "10 percent inspiration, 90 percent perspiration and 50 percent petty larceny." Of course, other than being totally clueless about percentages, the Wizard of Menlo Park was completely wrong about the "inspiration" angle. But then, what do you expect from a man who spent the latter portion of his life distributing pirated recordings of "Mary Had A Little Lamb" to street corner hussies in hopes that they would light up his life?
Where do these tour dates come from? Most dates, like the new schedule for Atomic Kitten or the additional dates for Diamond Rio and Michael McDonald, arrive on our loading dock via legitimate sources. The dates are sent to us by booking agents, artist managers and congressmen with the understanding that, if called upon, we will perform certain "favors" in return. For example, a source relinquishes the new dates for Wynonna, we make someone disappear and everybody wins. If only life could be this easy.
But that's only half of the picture and does not include the ring of early warning concert stations situated along the Arctic Circle or the unsavory characters we have to bribe in order to acquire complete routings for Alison Brown and Charlie Daniels Band. Most people don't want to admit it, but it takes a lot of manpower and surveillance, not to mention lawyers, guns and money to bring you the latest dates for They Might Be Giants, and if someone gets hurt along the way, we chalk it up to the fortunes of war. And make no mistake about it, collecting tour data is war.
Where do new tour dates come from? Knowing that Patti Smith is playing Asbury Park on December 29 is knowledge, and knowledge is power. So, try not to think about meetings in dark alleys, interrogation rooms and knocks upon the door at midnight. Just be happy you have the latest dates for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Dave Alvin on your monitor today, and try not to think of the spilled blood and lives lost in order to bring them to you. For when you get right down to it, the answer to the question is obvious.
After all, if we told you where the new dates came from, then we'd have to… well… Take our word for it. You're better off not knowing.