Over the years, you may have seen Sean "Baggins" Bailey alongside artists like The Agitators, Hagfish, REO Speedealer, Reverend Horton Heat, The Soup, The Toadies, Burden Brothers, The Beautiful, Bowling For Soup, The Red Bean Guys, Lone Star Trio, Cool Christine, Why Am I, Radied X, Grand Pricks, The Nervebreakers, Bobby Soxx, the list goes on and on.
With all that Dallas music history, understandably, he has many monikers. Some are fit to print here, some are best left for the locker room. My favorite is simply The Hobbit. You see, if you have business onstage at House of Blues, Bailey is the man you'll be answering to. He's tough and stout, but also a kind man, and very accommodating and hospitable. Like a Hobbit. Stage manager at HOB Dallas is just Bailey's current gig, but he knows his Dallas music damn well....for a short fella.
I've said it before with colleagues of yours in here, but HOB takes great care of local and unsigned acts. Your thoughts?
We do really try to take care of all of the touring bands, as well as all of our local bands. We all have our good days, and bad, but I'd like to think that I try to make everyone's stay as easy and smooth as it can be.
Cause you've been there!
I've been out on tour, and I do understand some of the shitboxes bands have to play on occasion. I know I had always looked forward to going to a HOB. You always knew you'd get a dressing room, a clean shower, good food, and great sound gear where everything works, and folks who knew how to work it all. You'd also get these great things called loaders, who'd help get all of your gear in and out. You don't get a lot of that at the smaller venues. Sometimes, it's little details like that, that allow the artist to relax a bit, and take some of the regular day-to-day bullshit worries off their shoulders, if just for a bit. I think, too, by a lot of the people that work production at HOB have, or do tour themselves, so I'd like to think we all see both sides of the fence, and want everyone's time there to be positive.
Toughest local artist challenge to work with at HOB?
Toughest...off the top of my head, would probably be The Polyphonic Spree. Simply because there are so damn many of them! You've got at least 20 people on stage, there are instruments, risers, backdrops, confetti machines, bubble machines, lights, all kinds of stuff going on. It's tough to make all of that happen smoothly. If you can make one of their shows go off without a hitch, you can probably handle just about any other show, local-wise.
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Your production office is waaay up at the top of the stairs in back. Thats quite the quad-burning hike. How many times a week would you say you traverse those stairs?
Yea, it is quite a hike up to the office from the stage. 51 steps to be exact, and just think, I run those things probably 25-30 times a day, I bet. And that's just on that side of the building! That doesn't count the other areas you have to get to in the course of a day. It's the HOB workout plan.
Haha. Pros and cons of being perched at the top?
The best thing of being that far up is, of course, a bit of downtime, and a place to sit and relax. The worst, of course is the fact that there will be a lot of times that as soon as you do sit down to relax, or maybe grab a bite to eat, you get a call on the radio that usually means you need to go all the way back down to the stage, or another part of the building. Never fails. Wherever you are at in the building at any given time, you are at least half way as to where you need to be, and you can bet your bottom dollar you'll have to take some stairs to get where you need to be...
How many trips in an average week?
Man, in a given work week, which can be anywhere from one day, to 5 or more depending on how busy we are, and again from 8hrs (a short day) all the way to 15+ hours (a medium-to busy day), and I'm up and down those stairs hundreds of times...That's why I have the ass of a 12 year old Swedish boy.
And the legs of a dagger-swinging Hobbit. What are some other production/venue jobs you've held down? I imagine you've had some interesting work.
I played in a band when I was in college out in Lubbock...we were really bad. So, I started booking bands as well. I'd put ads in Maximum Rock N Roll, and contact booking agents, and eventually people started contacting me for tour stops in Lubbock. It was great. What year was this?
This was '88 or so I started doing this...had lots of bands! like The Jesus Lizard on their first US tour, we had Sub Pop bands early on like L7, Cattbut, The Fluid, The Dwarves, Babes In Toyland, and also brought out Dallas punk bands as well like The Agitators, The Red Bean Guys, Cool Christine, Raided X, and so on...bands from all over, really. Then I left college to go on tour doing merch for The Dwarves, and never went back.
Dwarves and Hobbits can't survive together forever. Was it back to Dallas after that?
Yes! I started working/squatting at a punk club in Dallas called Slipped Disc. I was doing the booking for all of the road shows there. This was in 1990. I toured more, and then started working at Trees around '92 doing security. I'll still ocassionally pull a shift or two there. Also worked at the Gypsy Tea Room and Ballroom. Done stuff at a lot of the venues in town, and lastly, I am here at HOB, coming up on my sixth year here. I still tour from time to time...mostly now with The Toadies, whom I have been with on and off since '97.
I imagine your days at Trees hold some pretty insane memories in Dallas music history.
Back in the old days at Trees, I can remember seeing James Hall for the first time. I was blown away. Simply amazing. Of course I was at the Nirvana show. Tripping Daisy shows were always a madhouse, as well as Horton Heat. There are tons that stick in my mind as being particularly crazy, but a lot of that is not fit to print. If you can imagine it, it probably happened. The adage "sex drugs and rock n roll" is pretty spot on. Perhaps one day, I'll write a book about all of this stuff. I used to keep tour journals, and had found an old one a while back. Some of the shit that we did, I can't believe we got away with.
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How did you end up interested specifically in live music?
I've always loved music, and wanted to somehow be involved. I was in a band, then I was booking, I've managed, booked tours, done security, sold merch, drove the van, done video, loaded gear, tour managed, and stage managed. Most of the work or jobs that I have held since moving to Texas in '85 have been music related. I guess you can say I haven't had a "real" job since around '87. I've been very lucky.