Terry Taylor, whose chin-length black hair makes him look a little like Johnny Depp, struggled to get down a walkway at the Clutch show on February 28 at the Beaumont Club.
Taylor is a promoter, but that night he seemed more like a rock star. A throng of people, some of them dudes in area bands, all seemed to want to talk to him.
Musicians in these parts know Taylor as the guy who can help them land a gig opening for a national act. As president of Hunt Industries, where he works with fellow promoter Josh Hunt, Taylor helped book around 500 concerts in 2007 — concerts by national bands such as Paramore, Horse the Band and Converge — throughout the Midwest, from Springfield, Missouri, up through Madison, Wisconsin. Hunt has about 60 shows on its roster for March, including four this week in Kansas City, notably the Starting Line at the Beaumont Club on Thursday and Carbon/Silicon at the Record Bar on Saturday.
"It's a 24-hour job," he says. "I can't go to a movie without leaving my phone on."
But he tries to remember the local bands, the ones who could get a boost from opening for someone big. "A lot of promoters lose the fact that you can help local bands," he says.
Taylor knows this because he's been doing it since he was 15.
Back when Green Day and the Offspring were just no-name punks, they played in Taylor's garage.
Taylor was a teenage bass player in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, just trying to help out other guys with bands.
He picked up the bass at 14 and learned to play in his first band, Face of Decline. By 15, he was signed to a label — Relapse Records — and touring. Trading numbers with fellow musicians on the road, he earned a reputation as the guy to call to get a show in Sioux Falls.
Taylor booked his first shows in garages, basements and city parks. The town was so starved for rock and roll, he says, that his Fall Guy Productions (that's what a promoter is, after all) could guarantee 400 kids for an unknown band from out of town.
Taylor played with Face of Decline into his early 20s. During and since, he has added 16 other bands to his résumé, mostly metal and hardcore acts. "If I'm in one band, that's insane," he says. "I have to be in 20 bands. I don't like idle time." His most famous project was Nodes of Ranvier, which dissolved a few months ago, shortly after Taylor quit.
Now 34, he's still playing music and putting on shows.
He moved to Lawrence five years ago because it seemed like a cool town and, facing his 30th birthday, he needed a change. Within a year, he'd hooked up with Hunt and founded Hunt Industries.
It's Taylor's responsibility to make sure that every concert goes off without a hitch. Meanwhile, he archives every e-mail he gets from local rockers who want to open for national acts.
Certain tours don't allow local openers, but Taylor, whose own bands have benefitted from his role as promoter, tries to accommodate others whenever he can. This week, he got locals Aubrey and Distance to Empty on the bill with Blind Melon.
Taylor is in three heavy bands of his own right now — Blinding Light, the Last Tyrant and Caligari. The Last Tyrant is his newest and only truly local act, based in Lawrence. The others are bands begun in South Dakota. Staying active in them has sometimes meant driving six hours back to Sioux Falls three times a week. "I put over 60,000 miles on my car in a year," he says. But that's a small sacrifice for a guy who says music is the number-one thing in his life.
He's amazed to have found a way to support himself by doing what he loves. Even better: As a promoter, he gets to pay it forward.