Peninsula producer unites top talents
It doesn't matter what genre of live music it is, at some time or other Rob Warwick has presented it.
"I wouldn't pretend to write a song or play an instrument," says the soft-spoken, seemingly unflappable Peninsula resident, impresario of Rock.It Boy Entertainment. "But I do know where my strengths are."
He's has made a specialty in recent years of presenting one of the most lucrative genres – salutes to iconic soloists and bands of the past (including such tribute acts as Led Zepagain and The Fab Fourever).
Concerts in venues across the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island – including White Rock's Coast Capital Playhouse and Langley's Cascades Casino – have added up to a game plan with a lot more wins than losses.
Such shows are still bread and butter, he acknowledges (in September he will be presenting dates with The Chicago Experience featuring Kenny Cetera).
But with producing partner Clyde Hill (who was responsible for shaping the early success of Nickleback) Warwick is also moving back into managing and presenting original acts in a big way.
A significant local game-changer is the upcoming show they've put together with the White Rock Business Improvement Association to kick off the upcoming White Rock Sea Festival weekend.
The Aug. 1 bash at Star of the Sea Hall will be headlined by legendary Canadian rockers Trooper (featuring White Rock's own Ra McGuire).
It will also showcase two strong opening acts, local up-and-comers Tommy Alto and Me and Mae, the emerging country band that Warwick and Hill are now managing.
"I saw an opportunity with the Sea Festival in White Rock," Warwick said. "There's never any real big kickoff to the event. People are in a pretty festive mood, so I thought it might be cool to do a show."
Warwick said McGuire, singer, songwriter and founding member of Trooper – whom he's known for years – had no hesitation about bringing the band onside.
"Ra loves doing shows. We decided we'd do a kick-off party and blow the doors off the place, and country music and classic rock are a natural mix – they come from the same place."
Warwick added that McGuire has been very supportive of having Me and Mae as an opening act, and even suggested the possibility of a duet with himself and the band's lead singer Jacky Mae.
"Jacky's really excited about that," he said. "I'm very happy Ra's on board and happy he's able to give Me and Mae such an opportunity.
"Now I've just got to figure out how to be in two places at the same time – I've got (metal singer) Sebastian Bach coming in to the Port Theatre in Nanaimo the same night!"
Warwick said he and Hill are very excited about the potential of Me and Mae, which teams the professionalism of a group of musicians headed by Shawn Meehan (who has been working with Hill, since the mid `90s) with talented newcomer Mae. In addition to providing a fresh dynamic as lead singer, she is also emerging as a lyricist of great promise, he said.
"She literally won this contest to sing with Shawn's band, and when they came off stage it was like 'I think we've found our new singer'," Warwick said.
Songs with solid crossover appeal, like Off The Rails, Love Me, Leave Me Lonely (which Meehan co-wrote with Carly Rae Jepsen), What Cha Wearin' and My Heart Goes On, released by Cordova Bay Records, are garnering good web airplay and attracting positive attention from industry heavy-hitters, through Warwick and Hill's network of connections. The band will make it's first foray to Nashville in September.
"Me and Mae have a great work ethic – dealing with them has been a breeze," Warwick said.
That's not always been the case in his managing experience he said. And he has a fund of war stories from more than two decades in the business.
That includes a spell managing Johnny Cash's former backup group, the Nashville Three, when their music had new currency following the release of Walk The Line in 2005.
While he got a kick out of knowing musicians who had been part of the country/rockabilly scene right at the beginning, Warwick confesses that he still gets a little twitchy thinking back to last-minute long distance phone calls asking him to arrange repairs for the band bus, or renew the expired passport of a key member the night before they were due to leave for a tour of Europe.
"They'd basically been hired guns and had never had to deal with business side of things before," he said.
"I've seen it all over the years," he added, noting he has had his share of dealing with the club scene, and musicians with a tendency to be their own worst enemies.
"I very rarely do club shows any more – it's mainly soft seat theaters and casinos. I'm dealing with a more professional group of people, and I'm out the door by 10 o'clock in a theatre show, instead of three in the morning – I'm too old for that."
The Trooper/Me and Mae/Tommy Alto show is open to ages 19 plus, doors 7 p.m., show 8 p.m. at Star of the Sea Hall, 15262 Pacific Ave.
Tickets are $52.50 (plus facility fee and service charge) at Ticketweb and Tapestry Music.
To reserve, visit www.ticketweb.ca or call 1-888-222-6608.