Wild Child Touring Inc., Night Castle Management
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts • Trans-Siberian Orchestra
A well-oiled machine like Trans-Siberian Orchestra, which puts multiple touring companies on the road every year to legions of adoring fans, requires a special kind of person as its Director of Touring & Production. Fortunately, Elliot Saltzman, who also manages all touring, live performances and personal appearances for Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, is more than up to the task.
He started working with Montreal’s Mahogany Rush in 1974 and with TSO in 1999 and this year marks his 20th with the tour.
While the work has required him to be analytical, hard-working, and always have a system in place for everything, he describes his job mainly as “solving problems and managing people and situations.”
Over the years, computers, cell phones, faxes have greatly streamlined his job, as he still recalls the days of settling in pencil with a calculator, racking up phone bills in the thousands. Still, despite how much simpler things have gotten, he describes it as “easier, not necessarily better.”
He is chock-full of stories, including the time he and Steve Marriott of Humble Pie were kicked out of a hotel and the entirety of Salt Lake City by armed cops (with guns drawn). There was also the time he had an unmarked, blacklight-painted plane dive bomb a Cal Jam stage and then flee from police jet copters. He got arrested for that one.
His biggest advice to upstarts: “You’ve got to learn everything, don’t take shortcuts. A great tour manager should have the knowledge and experience for every aspect of touring. It’s not ‘Raise your hand if you want to be a tour manager,’ do the work and know what is expected of you, surround yourself with great people and you will succeed.”
Of course, he named TSO as the best tour he has worked on, saying: “To be a part of something that started out with a vision and grew to a monster that has stood the test of time is very gratifying and of course hitting the jackpot when your marching orders are to make it bigger and better every year, what else can you ask for.”