Dear Carrie Column
In light of the changing guidelines for live musical performances, we are keeping the torch alive with a new column “Dear Carrie.” Carrie will answer questions about the music industry, concert do’s & don’ts, and general curiosity about music & more. (And if she doesn’t know the answer, she’s really good at Googling it.)
Got a question for Carrie? Send it to email@example.com
Where and how did “drop the mic” start?
- Drop the Mic
Dear Drop the Mic,
A “mic drop” is the gesture of intentionally dropping one's microphone at the end of a performance or speech to signal triumph. But as any sound tech will tell you: DON’T ACTUALLY DO THIS! You’ll ruin a good (and probably expensive) microphone as well as your relationship with your sound tech.
Comedians and rappers have used the “mic drop” since the 80s. During a rap contest, rappers might drop the microphone after a particularly effective line to show their confidence in their opponent's inability to top them. In Eric B. and Rakim’s single “I Ain’t No Joke” released in 1987, Rakim boasts, “I used to let the mic smoke/ Now I slam it when I’m done and make sure it’s broke.” One of the earliest mic drops on film is in Eddie Murphy’s 1983 stand-up special “Delirious.”
In the past few years it’s become a full-blown meme, all thanks to former President Obama. The gesture had grown steadily in popularity since 2007, but in 2012 Obama appeared on Late Night TV with Jimmy Fallon for a “Slow Jammed the News” rap about student loans. Afterwards the president dropped the mic and Fallon followed suit. The video went viral and more folks started dropping mics than ever before. Thanks, Obama.
I’ve always wondered about contract riders for the performers. You hear about crazy ones like having brown M&Ms in the dressing room. Do the performers for Bread & Roses events ever have weird requests in their contract riders? If so, what are they usually like and what’s the strangest one you’ve come across?
- Brown M&M
Dear Brown M&M,
If you’ve been watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, in the third season you might remember when Susie is trying to figure out a touring contract for Midge she is told that if you want your client to be taken seriously, you have to include a “weird ask.” So what is a rider and why do so many artists include “weird asks?”
A rider is added to an artist’s contract for all the little extras. Riders are part of a legal contract, so they have to be honored. The rider often covers items for the artists’ dressing room, such as food and drink, but can also include promotion and billing demands, number of comped tickets or other insurance provisions. Sometimes a “weird ask” is put in as a test. If the booker finds it and follows it, it shows that they read the rider carefully, but if they missed or ignored it, they also could be overlooking other essential provisions. The “brown M&M” story is from the band Van Halen back in the 80s in which they insisted on a bowl of M&Ms with all the brown ones removed. They did this as a visual cue to be sure the venues were carefully reading the riders, which also included very specific technical requirements that ensured the safety of the band and audience. If they walked backstage and saw a brown M&M, they would then line-check the entire production and usually found other technical errors that could destroy the whole show or possibly even be life-threatening.
At Bread & Roses, Vice President of Programs Carolyn Gauthier works with contracts and riders for our Spring and Fall Benefit Concert performers. Though she haven’t seen anything as specific as removing all trace of brown M&Ms from the dressing room, we’ve had a few interesting additions to the usual food and drink lists included in a rider. Some memorable items include: one ginger root, lottery tickets, a box of La Croix water (any flavor except coconut), licorice tea and diapers size 3T-4T (Pull-Ups.)
I’m planning a romantic dinner for when shelter-in-place is over. Can you recommend some music?
- Brie Mine
I get that playing something like “Let’s Get it On” puts a little too much pressure on a dinner (and that sort of thing usually comes after dessert, right?) Personally, I’m a fan of classic jazz vocalists like Ella Fitzgerald or Edith Piaf to set a classy mood. But I sent this question to our expert music curator, Bread & Roses Producer Francesca Lee. She sent me a fun mix of more contemporary love songs including “Hold You in My Arms” by Ray LaMontagne, “Here Comes Your Man” by the Pixies, and “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over” by Jeff Buckley. These songs would be a delectable pairing with dinner, and may even stimulate your appetite for the next course.
Until the time we can share live music together again, we invite you to share your story of your favorite live music experience on social media with the hashtag #livemusicmemory (and tag us too!)
By Carrie Sownie, Development-Communications Associate
At top: Carrie working check-in at the 2018 Spring Benefit Concert. Photo by Ken Friedman.