Waterfront Concerts Up Close : Part 1
Waterfront Concerts first came to Bangor three years ago, some had doubts.”I think in everything it’s a calculated risk and the question is what’s a risk to you and isn’t to another person? It didn’t seem that bold of a risk to me in the grand scheme of things. We really felt there was an under serviced market,” said Waterfront Concert President, Alex Gray.For concert series president Alex Gray, a love for the music industry began many years ago.Gray used to own and run a dance club in Orono.He says he didn’t like where it was going so he started to do shows.”I approached a couple of bookers that were working in the region, kind of like middle agents, and asked them to help me start finding shows and other than the production side, that was my first experience on the promotion and booking side,” said Gray.Fast forward to 2010, Waterfront Concerts starts to make its mark in Bangor.”The goal ultimately was to get to this level of entertainment. I think looking at Bangor, we really felt like it could go in that direction because of it proximity to eastern Canada and the county and even Portland,” said Gray.Gray credits the success of the series to the fans.”It sounds cliche, but it comes down to the fact if the fans don’t come out and don’t support this stuff it’s not going to be here,” said Gray.”For the acts that our fans ask for, we’ve definitely chased. Zac Brown is one of those acts, we chased for three years running and we finally got him. Rascal Flats was another one we chased for a number of years,” said Gray.Some are likely to assume it’s a glamorous job and lifestyle, but Gray says not so fast.”You really throw a lot of things out there to get the responses you want and then there’s a courting process. They have a certain amount of money they’d like to have. There’s a certain period they’re available and you have to try and make all the pieces of the puzzle fit together,” said Gray.Besides the leg work that goes into the booking, there’s the stage, which takes crews about four days to set up.”It’s a very labor intensive process. In light of what happened last year in Indiana people can appreciate the safety measure we take by putting up this monstrosity of a stage,” said Gray.Gray says there are much smaller and cheaper stages they could work with, but they just wouldn’t withstand the rigors of a Maine summer.Don’t think once each concert starts, the work is done, there’s plenty going on behind the scenes.”Our staff predominantly handles the production side, the labor force that’s there. We have a catering head, we have a social media head whose on site whose constantly putting out information about the show and updates,” said Gray.Gray says it’s up to them to continue producing a quality product.”It really is important for me to continue producing shows in Bangor long term, even if the number declines slightly because of an averaging. It’s still going to be important to produce a high quality, high caliber entertainment here because the city has been so great to us,” said Gray.At the end of the day Gray says the headaches and extra work is worth it.”My grandfather always told me, and my dad said the same thing, pick a job that’s something you love and then it won’t be work every day. Truly I know I love my job, I’m very lucky and I saw that consistently. I’m one of the luckiest people in the world, I get to do this day in and day out. It’s my passion,” said Gray.