Q’s With Barbara ‘Mother’ Hubbard On Turning 95, Working With The NextGens & The Spark She Feels ‘When They Really Truly Have It’
More than a quarter century after Barbara “Mother” Hubbard officially retired as the special events director at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, she’s still busy putting on shows, teaching and supporting young people trying to break into the live industry.
“Completely truthful, I’m not ready to quit. I can add two and two and get four. And I can figure out how much I’ll have my customer pay for a seat with all of the overhead. Some of us that are 95 are still capable. It’s just a number,” says Hubbard, who has continued as the executive director of the American Collegiate Talent Showcase (ACTS) Scholarship Fund. And, of course, it’s her love of helping the next generation that inspires her to keep going.
To celebrate Hubbard’s 95th, a special tribute event will take place on Oct. 19 at Farm and Ranch Museum in Las Cruces, N.M., with proceeds benefiting ACTS. Since ACTS was launched in 1978 to help college students with scholarships and hands-on internships in the performing arts, the program has helped dozens of her “kids” who have gone on to be agents, tour accountants and more.
Pollstar caught up with Hubbard a few weeks after ACTS brought three Journey shows to New Mexico and Texas.
Pollstar: This is your third semester teaching a class on entertainment and venue management.
Barbara “Mother” Hubbard: I’m thrilled to death. We’ve grown – we started out with four [students]; we’re up to 15 enrolled this semester. I was just introduced last Monday to the class and I told them that I was ready to rock and roll and we were going to learn some stuff and have some fun.
How do your students get involved with live events?
Well, for instance, for this Oct. 19th [tribute] I’m trying to let the kids work the event … And then if [show producer/tour director/creative producer] Steve Dixon is able – he’s one of my [former] students out now with Jennifer Lopez, along with [concert touring veteran] Becky Mendoza. If Steve can get me a gig in Las Vegas like he did before … We took two students and flew over there. They worked from 8 in the morning on the show in Las Vegas to midnight. And then I’m looking for [other] shows, like Texas Tech lets me send students over.
And you continue mentoring students.
I give them my telephone number and tell them my door’s open. Come out to the house and we’ll visit. Or I’ll come in and we’ll sit in the classroom.
The biggest thing they can’t get over, they think I’m crazy. I’ve never had a check from New Mexico State since 1998. They don’t pay me [to teach]. I volunteer! And the ACTS program has never paid me since I incorporated it.
Well, that’s pretty incredible that you’re doing this out of the goodness of your heart.
It’s because I love these young people. I want them to be able to believe in themselves and find that there is a road for them to follow.
What’s your favorite thing about working with young people?
It’s the spark that I feel when I know that one of them really, truly has it. Like Mike Lorick,
who transferred from the University of South Carolina … I knew that he was going to make one dang good tour accountant. He’s at the top of the heap with Bruce Springsteen … Richard Glasgow has been with Phish for 25 years or more.
What advice would you give to those who want to get into the business?
Well, first of all, I tell them, 8 to 5 – it’s not that kind of a job. And you either love it or you want to get out of it once you get in it. And if you love it, then you are challenged by the personalities that you meet, even from the beginning.
What’s something your students have taught you?
(laughs) Not to assume anything. I used to preach that all the time, and then I find myself flipping [out over] something and they’ll say, “Mmm hmm! Don’t assume, Mother Hubbard, that it’s going to be like that.”
Anything you wanted to add?
People have been good to me. They return phone calls. They know [my belief] that these young people are our future. … If you’re just truthful with them, they’ll come back at you in the same way. My students make me look good.