Linda Tovar has Sacrificed More than One Set of Clothes for Dallas Music

Local Music 'Mericans has been running almost two and a half years now on DC9, and one disappointing shortcoming in writing this column has been the lack of "war stories" from live local stages: odd, unforgettable things seen. Not sure what the problem is! Sure, there's been a few interesting points, but not since the early days of LMM, when we interviewed door guy Sean Wayne have we gotten a good handful of colorful firsthand live music first hand accounts.

To the rescue is Linda Tovar. Aside from approaching so many in our local music family with a very kind, motherly and hospitable approach, Tovar's also a budding concert tech who's really the Swiss Army Knife of handiness at Trees in Deep Ellum. She's currently serving as an understudy to the man who pilots the jet engine of a PA found in Trees, the previously LMM-featured Lee Russell. As far as amusing things happening during local shows, she's not only seen it, but is far enough up on the front lines to have smelt it, felt it and had it stick to her clothes...all in the name of rock. I'll let her explain.

It's been a lot of fun hearing some of your "war stories" from the front lines of live local music. Some of the best I've heard. Please, indulge us. Let's see, There was the drummer who poured, like, 2 gallons of fake blood all over himself and the drum riser. For weeks I would forget and kneel on the riser and have to deal with my pants sticking to my knees and shins. That might have been the same band who used real barbed wire on stage as a prop. They still owe me a t-shirt and a pair of jeans. I was at one show where I was thoroughly entertained listening to the sound guy ask the drummer what he had that needed to be mic-ed. It took a while before he understood that the drummer had an actual brake drum (off a car). He kept asking, "what's a brake drum?". How do you answer that? It's a brake drum!

I know which band that is! I think it's great that these are all local acts. What else? I've seen singers stick vocal mics down their throats and down their pants... My most recent favorite was a fight between a giant cardboard robot and giant blob with a giant eyeball, their drummer's costume was great! It's hard to tell these stories because you really had to be there. SUPPORT LOCAL MUSIC! You won't be sorry..most of the time.

You are a multi-task master at Trees. Outdoor, indoor, front of house. What about before this work? Or currently and in addition to this? Before this, I worked in Bakersfield at Buck Owens' Crystal Palace! A music venue "built by musicians for musicians" when it first opened in 1996. After I left Bakersfield, it seemed like everywhere I moved to, I was meeting musicians and becoming involved in the local scene. I moved to Dallas to be close to my family. My brother, Rob and sister-in-law, Vicki, are both musicians in local bands. I started working with them in various roles from roadie/drum tech to running sound.

And what was your first experience with local music here? The first show I ever went to in Deep Ellum was a Mad Mexicans show at Trees on my birthday. This was right before Trees closed. After I moved to Dallas and found out Trees was going to open again, I was excited. I had met Clint Barlow and [Trees Sound Engineer] Lee Russell, who was at at Firewater at the time, coincidentally during another Mad Mexicans show, which was on my birthday. Lee and I became friends and somehow I was able to finagle him into teaching me some of his magic. So, how long ago did you start "apprenticing" with Lee Russell at Trees? I started working for Lee about 3 1/2 years ago. That's when, and how, I became involved in Deep Ellum. The more there is to do, the more I want to do. I don't deal well with monotony. My skill set and past working experience allows me to comfortably fill many rolls, from parking cars or security to managing a stage, from running monitors or babysitting FOH to mixing a band. Working at Trees has given me the opportunity to meet a lot of people and help fill various industry roles locally and on tour. There is a tight knit group of people who work together and support each other. I'm fortunate to consider them my friends.

You recently toured with local ska act Rude King. First time working on the road with a band? I've gone out with Rude King their last 2 summer tours. On the road, like in Deep Ellum, I find myself filling many roles, driving, roadie, drum tech, personal assistant, scheduling, merch, setting up or, in one case, rewiring PA, running sound, drinking beer... basically anything the band needs. You never know what to expect next, even if you've been there before. I think I have learned more about the industry touring than I would have ever understood had I not done it. It helped me realize and remember that so many of the bands coming through our local venues are not from here and are probably road weary. I don't know what they went through to get here, but they got here. We need to support that. Rude King has been fortunate to have friends, fans and family in most of the cities they play in who are willing to offer up places to hang out and chill. I couldn't imagine touring without that kind of support. Touring is NEVER boring.

Is Rude King a local favorite? Dumb question? RUDE KING! My all time favorite! Love The Mad Mexicans, too...they always play on or near my birthday, Ain't NO Party Like a Mexican Party! Fantasma, with Dan flying through the air, URSA, Rivethead is always entertaining, Spoonfed Tribe...I love working the stage when they play! I love The Commotion.Ashes of the Forgotten, Funky W, Faded Grace. Ok, maybe not so easy. I know I am forgetting some. I really enjoy watching my friends!

Was there someone especially influential in your life that led you in this direction? My parents mostly. My Dad always told us kids that we could do anything and we believed him. They taught us to work hard, allowed us to play hard and encouraged us to think. I grew up riding, showing and training horses. Horses have always been a huge influence in my life.

Do you play any instruments? Ever given it a shot? I played the flute for a while in grade school. I bought one a while back and remembered enough to play "Happy Birthday" at a friends party. I prefer behind the scenes!

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Alan Ayo