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Martina McBride Rides Her Soul Train

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Photo credit: Glynis Carpenter

Country Music headliner Martina McBride’s catalog overflows with powerfully communicative performances. The playful “I Love You,” the heartbroken ballad “Wrong Again,” and the empowering anthems “Independence Day,” “This One’s for the Girls” and “Wrong Baby Wrong” unfold along clear lines of melody, which the five-time CMA Award winner animated with her own distinctive phrasing and interpretive sense.

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How Country Stars Build Their Road Crews

Country Music wouldn’t be where it is today without great artists. But those stars couldn’t grow their audiences without virtuoso road crews.

In many ways, the road crew is just as important a part of the tour as the performer. As Chris Cagle put it, “Everyone is pretty much part of the band. We’re all in it together. If the front-house guy has a bad day, no matter how well the band plays, we suck. If the monitor engineer is off, we can’t hear ourselves play and we’re off. Everybody is vital. We’re all part of the team.

“My most important guy is my road manager, Mike Nash,” he continued. “He knows how to handle me. He takes care of the band and all the logistics. He deals with people in a kind fashion. What you leave in your wake is just as important as what you accomplish. If the guy who represents you treats people with kindness yet sometimes has to be firm, but that firmness is still polite, that goes a long, long way and is one reason promoters have you back.”

Road managers for smaller acts handle everything, while larger tours include both a road manager and a production manager, whose purviews are stage lighting and sound. “Rascal Flatts is a tour with lots of moving parts,” said Mike McGrath, the band’s former Tour Manager. “We have elevators, a video screen and complex lighting. We have departments that handle audio, lighting, sound, video and rigging. The crew has to be able to fix things and fix them quickly.”

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