Buses For Buskers

Celebrity Coaches in Tupelo, Miss., says it wants to help out bands that can’t afford to ride around on its fancy buses. The company plans to hand over one of its Prevosts to an unsigned band for a month each year.

It is starting by giving an all-expense-paid bus trip to a regional band out of Baton Rouge, La., called the Benjy Davis Project. A partner in the company, Dr. Ron Coe, saw the band at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and decided it could use a little help. Celebrity Coaches President Jeff Michael agreed, and handed over a bus to help the band get more exposure.

“We’re not doing this for any selfish reason,” Michael told Pollstar, adding that the idea was generated because a bus or two of the company’s 17-vehicle fleet sits idle every once in a while.

“What we get out of it is the publicity and, hopefully, we’ll help somebody become a big band. Be it Mötley Crüe or Deana Carter or any of the established artists we’ve driven this year, they’d say, ‘Hey, we remember when we were out there in a van with six seats in it and wishing somebody would give us a break like that.'”

Bands can submit demos to Celebrity Coaches and get featured on their Web site. Finalists will compete in a battle of the bands judged by three celebrities who have been customers of the bus company.

Michael figures the Benjy Davis Project month-long outing is worth about $500 a day for the bus, $7,000 for the driver and $6,500 for fuel. The band will be responsible for food and other expenses, but the company is expected to cover any cost involving the bus.

“At the end of the 30 days, we want to give [future participants] 40 hours in a recording studio and have somebody there who will help them put together a CD,” Michael said.

Plus, the entire excursion will be filmed and sold for reality TV rights.

Joe Reinartz