Pollstar + VenuesNow 2022 Women Of Live: Kate Des Enfants McMahon

Messina Touring Group
Executive Vice President

As President of the University of Illinois (Champaign)’s Starcourse concert board her senior year, Kate McMahon landed a marketing job at Chicago’s legendary Jam Productions. Six years in, she tried to “go straight,” at an advertising agency; industry legend Tony DiCioccio tracked her down and said she needed to be back in the concert business.

Their meeting led to Louis Messina hiring McMahon as Regional Marketing Director for PACE, handling all shows outside Houston. A year in, she was made the Marketing point for PACE’s Touring Division, handling George Strait’s Country Festival stadium shows and the (Dixie) Chicks’ headlining tours. When Messina went indie in 2001, McMahon ultimately joined him.

“I resigned Nov. 1, got married Nov. 10 and put our first Kenny Chesney headlining dates on sale later that month,” she recalls. “Somehow, we did 98 shows with Kenny, plus George Strait. It seems like we’ve not stopped since.”

With Strait, Chesney, Eric Church, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Shawn Mendes and more under the MTG banner, McMahon has been a cornerstone. Noting PACE had been the largest indie promoter, “building amphitheaters and taking a larger view of bringing people shows,” McMahon’s always been drawn to visionary promoting.

She’s also about reality. As Chesney readies his first tour in three years, she marvels, “It’s been over 900 days on sale. We were shocked at the number of people who held their tickets; who didn’t care when he was coming, they weren’t willing to surrender their seats. It was like that ticket was their sense the world he creates would return.”

Reigniting her fire after putting tours up, routing tours that never announced, dealing with marketing entities with a moving target, she points to Chesney unplugged at the Key West Theater. “When Kenny walked out, sat down with that acoustic guitar and started talking to the tiniest audience for No Shoes Radio, it was like a switch. That joy he embodies, the warmth, the way people’s lives are tangled up in his songs. I knew I was ready… and April 23 in Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium, the ‘Here and Now Tour’ is going to kick off.”