Q&A with Intrepid Artists president, Rick Booth - bring his own spin to the music industry - 25th anniversary

"The Blues Music Family is a tight family. Race plays a part in our daily lives these days but in the blues world, Black Folks and White Folks all get along hang out together."

Rick Booth: The Intrepid Blues Family

Intrepid Artists Int’l was founded in Dec of 1994 by current owner and President of the company, Rick Booth. Rick Booth Jr. was born and raised in Charlotte, NC where his love for music started at a very young age when his Godmother gave him a copy of Elton John’s Greatest Hits for his 10th birthday. From that point on, he could not get enough. In high school, it was not unusual at all to find Rick out sneaking in to bars and music venues to try to get his live music fix. Classic Rock and Blues Based Southern Guitar Rock were his thing! He continued his love for live music in college. Rick graduated from Wofford College with a degree in Sociology in 1987. While attending Wofford, he served as Social Chairman of his fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon for 2 plus years and began his personal work with bands and booking bands for different social events and his fraternity. His friends always joked with him and told him one day he would be a music agent but that was not really in the cards… at least not yet…

After graduating from Wofford, Rick came home to Charlotte and worked as a manager in the family Hardware business for almost 3 yrs. Rick credits many of his managerial skills to his Dad who ran the family business for 35 plus years. Recognizing how to deal with people sure does help out when dealing with all the personalities in the music business. By 1990, it was time for a career change and time to move on from the family hardware business. Rick took a job working for a regional music agency, Hit Attractions, booking mainly cover bands and college bands, but weary of it’s business practices, decided to leave after only about 4 months on the job. Shortly after that Rick accepted a job working for Piedmont Talent, an upstart blues agency at the time that booked all original Blues Bands and some Louisiana Cajun and Zydeco Bands as well. After 4 plus years at Piedmont, Rick felt it was a great time to go out on his own and bring his own spin to the music industry.

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the Blues and Rock counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Regarding "The Blues Rock Counterculture"... I would say The Blues in general has influenced me and changed the way I view the world. Not all, but many blues musicians come from poor and sometimes complicated backgrounds. I have developed many dear friends in the blues that I care for deeply. Many of them grew up very differently from the way I grew up. In the same breath, I have found common ground with many of them. Many were raised with the same values that I was raised with. Many times, I find out our Mama's seemed to be one in the same. I did not grow up poor, never had to fight for a meal, and never knew what life on the streets was like. I have never known what it was like to be discriminated against for the color of my skin. All of these things are things many of us take for granted. I try to put myself in the shoes of others and see things thru their eyes to better understand their feelings and to better help bridge the gap between those that have walked in their shoes and those that haven't.  Many folks simply just don't understand. Being involved in working with Blues Musicians and getting to know so many of them like Family has been one of the greatest gifts ever given to me in life. It has opened my eyes to so many things.

What were the reasons that you started the Intrepid Artists? What is the hardest part to being a booking agency?

I started Intrepid because it was time for me to branch out and put my own spin on the business. I had worked in retail (The Family Hardware business) and for two music agencies. I had soaked up all "The Do's and Dont's" in the business and felt like I was ready to go out and do my own thing. Too many things that I felt could be done in a more civil, professional way that I felt I could handle differently and apply things my Father taught me in the Hardware business to the Music Business. I felt the business lacked "respect," in many cases between those that worked in it.

The hardest thing about running a booking agency is probably just like any other business. When times are tough and things don't go your way, you must stay in the ring and fight. Running any business can be tough and my business is no different but I think it is all about how you handle adversity when times are tough. Don't get too High when good things happen and too low when bad things happen. Stay the course and try to stay off that rollercoaster ride, stay calm and make good business decisions. You must also ALWAYS try and keep up with the times. Times change and you must stay current or you will be left behind.

"The Blues is DEFINITELY a specific Music Genre! The Blues may also be a state of mind. I know many people listen to the blues to Heal themselves and remove themselves for a few hours from Daily reality. I think music in general can be this way but definitely the Blues." (Rick Booth / Photo © by Chris Austin)

Which acquaintances have been the most important experiences? Are there any memories which you’d like to share with us?

I've encountered many folks in Blues, Blues Rock and Classic Rock from Steven Tyler to Dickey Betts to Bonnie Raitt to Bo Didley, to Les Paul BUT the ones that have touched me the most would definitely be 3 Blues Artists starting with BB King and then Dr John and Luther Allison. All three of these Cats were so kind to me and took the time to make me feel like they cared. I LOVED all of their music and it was a thrill to be able to say I knew them and they somehow touched me and influenced me with the way they spoke to me and conducted themselves! All really Cool Dudes! All are now gone and I miss going to see all of them perform and I miss them being on this earth with us!

What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I miss seeing all the Cats that have passed like BB, Dr John and Luther Allison but that list also includes folks like Albert King, Pinetop Perkins, etc... I miss some of the old buyers and clubs that used to be around especially The Double Door Inn in Charlotte, NC. There are lots of them, too many to name but generally when one goes, another pops up so that is nice. Same with music, while you may lose great artists that really can't be replaced, you are always discovering new ones. That's life.

My hope for the future is that Live Music stays alive and well. People have so many choices these days, and for that matter, many can sit at home and stream shows without even leaving their couch. There is also a lot of competition so it spreads everyone a little thin. Again, So many choices. People have to make decisions on how and where they are going to spend their concert dollars.       Rick Booth / Photo © by Marilyn Stringer

"My hope for the future is that Live Music stays alive and well. People have so many choices these days, and for that matter, many can sit at home and stream shows without even leaving their couch. There is also a lot of competition so it spreads everyone a little thin. Again, So many choices. People have to make decisions on how and where they are going to spend their concert dollars." 

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

If I could change one thing in the musical world and it were to become reality, I would make reselling tickets for a profit ILLEGAL! The people doing this are hosing us all. It is a massive industry and the folks like Ticketmaster seem to encourage it. They certainly don't discourage it. This system allows for only the Rich to sit on the front rows rather than the real music fans. It also makes many concerts simply not affordable after The Bots buy up all the tickets at presales. Scalping used to be illegal. Not sure what happened. If I could change one other thing, it would be that Artists should get paid for their music. They are ALL being robbed via the internet and downloads and simply not being paid hardly anything for the music they write and we love. We are all guilty, but it is so available to everyone, how can the average consumer not take free music? I do. I'm guilty.

Do you consider the Blues a specific music genre and artistic movement or do you think it’s a state of mind?

The Blues is DEFINITELY a specific Music Genre! The Blues may also be a state of mind. I know many people listen to the blues to Heal themselves and remove themselves for a few hours from Daily reality. I think music in general can be this way but definitely the Blues.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your paths in music circuits?

What comes around goes around and KARMA is a Bitch! Do unto to others as you would have done unto you. I believe this is why I have survived in this industry as long as I have. I don't think this is necessarily a practice in the Music Industry but it is how I roll and I think folks know that about me. The music industry can be cut throat just like any other business. I like doing business with good people. I believe most of the people I do business with are good people. There are always going to be exceptions to the rule but I have built solid relationships over the past 30 yrs. It is all about developing relationships.

"I would say The Blues in general has influenced me and changed the way I view the world. Not all, but many blues musicians come from poor and sometimes complicated backgrounds. I have developed many dear friends in the blues that I care for deeply." (Rick Booth / Photo © by Chris Austin)

What is the impact of Blues music and culture to the racial, political, and socio-cultural implications?

The Blues Music Family is a tight family. Race plays a part in our daily lives these days but in the blues world, Black Folks and White Folks all get along hang out together. We get to know one another's families and really get to know each other individually. The world is made up of lots of individuals and we are all very different. I don't see people in the blues industry being "judged" by the color of their skin. EVERYONE is Welcome. I have learned so much from just getting to know so many folks from different places and different backgrounds. Some of these folks come from World's I would have NEVER known about had I not gotten into this business. I am so grateful for that. I hope it has made me a better person. I think the rest of the world could learn a lesson or two by listening to The Blues and knowing the many colorful faces that make up the Blues World. It's a Beautiful thing! I always say that you should try to see the world through someone else's eyes every once in a while, you know, walk in someone else's shoes for a mile to better understand their feelings. I don't see a lot of that going on in today's political climate. Like I said, they could learn a thing or two from the Blues Culture.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

I assume this is a musical time machine so If I could go back in time, I would love to go back and be present for Live Aid at Wembley Stadium. U2, Dire Straits, David Bowie, The Who, Elton John and Paul McCartney all in a row? Are you kidding me? WOW! That's where I'd travel to.

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