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A Night in the Life: Summer Music Coordinators

The Wisconsin Union team puts on live music performances almost every week of the year. Each time is different, but each time, it’s no small feat coordinating all that goes on into each show at Memorial Union and Union South.

Terrace After Dark, a program led by the Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD) Music Committee, provides the community with live music five nights a week during the months that don’t require an internal morale pep-talk to face the cold. I met up with Starr Welk-Schwartz, a rising junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, one of the summer music coordinators here at the Union, and experienced first-hand what goes into making sure Terrace After Dark performances run without a hitch.

Welcome to a night in the life of a music coordinator:

Prior to the day of the show, the music coordinator reaches out to the band and sends them an itinerary. The itinerary includes where to park, how to unload, and confirmation of a stage plot, so they prepare their equipment setup. (P.S. “Stage plot” is a fancy way to say graphic that shows a band’s stage setup. I don’t know how I’m going to work this new phrase into everyday life, but I’m sure going to try.)

The day of the show, the music coordinator, along with the building manager on-duty and a food manager, conduct a weather call. What is a weather call? Probably what you guessed it is; they discuss if inclement weather, such as wind, heat or rain, means they’ll be moving the night’s entertainment from the Memorial Union Terrace to der Rathskeller.

2:30 p.m.: Coordinator clock-ins to prepare for the evening ahead and makes sure bands are confirmed

Ida Jo setting up for her performance3:30 p.m.: Coordinator meets the first band of the night at the Memorial Union’s underground loading dock to help transport equipment to the UW Credit Union Stage at the Terrace

3:30 – 5 p.m.: Band sets up, double-checking that they have everything the performers need for their set

5:00 – 7:00 p.m.: Coordinator enjoys the music while taking care of anything and everything that can come up during a live music performance, from a performer needing water to assisting with sound or light issues

7:00 – 7:15 p.m.: Coordinator provides first band with payment and begins the loading process while the second band begins unloading

Ida Jo performs at Terrace After Dark“This is where things start to pick up,” Starr says. “With two bands simultaneously attempting to use the docks or needing to be paid, it can be hectic.”

7:30 – 9:00 p.m.: Second band of the night sets up and checks and tunes their equipment

9:00 – 11:55 p.m.: Coordinator rests up and prepares for the final stretch while listening to some music (while again, taking care of all unexpected challenges, as they arise)

12:00 a.m. – 12:30 a.m. (officially past my bedtime, but a coordinator’s work is not done just yet): Coordinator helps to clear off the stage, load up equipment and provides payment for the show

12:30 a.m.: Coordinator clock-outs, goes home, and sleeps after a long day of music and excitement at the best place on Earth (no bias here!)

And though the hours are long, Starr says the work is rewarding.

“Working with WUD Music has opened my mind to a lot of new opportunities for my future,” Starr said. “I had no idea I would have the opportunity to book some of my favorite bands and run the shows that come through the Union.”

On that (music) note, and on behalf of the Union team, we invite you to come to Terrace After Dark to enjoy the live music our coordinators help make possible. When you come by, watch for the person racing across the Terrace to help the evening’s performers; that’s our coordinator, the magic behind the music.

Click here for a list of upcoming music events. And, don’t worry, when the music ends on the Terrace for the summer, we don’t stop the music. We keep the fun going inside at both Memorial Union and Union South.

Author: Jade Anthony

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