Singers need healthy backstage conditions now that it’s summertime and performers are on the move. Big tours, little tours. A cast of hundreds or a couple of guys in a van. Some will travel in luxury while others are lucky to get a per diem and a shared room.
Venue backstage conditions tend to depend on how far up the food chain the act has climbed. Until you’re a major act you can’t expect to enjoy all of the amenities you desire, but it doesn’t hurt to fantasize.
Those of us who have performed in a wide variety of venues have also encountered a wide variety of backstage conditions. Some appear to be set up with the artist’s comfort and well-being in mind, others seem to have been thrown together by people who loathe performers. Wouldn’t it be great if the backstage amenities at more venues were user-friendly? For instance:
Gone are the days when cases of Jack Daniels automatically appeared backstage. Today’s artists are more health-conscious. If the contract rider doesn’t specify catering, be kind to the artist’s health by offering lots of bottled water, fresh fruits and vegetables, herbal teas, non-greasy proteins, sugar-free desserts, and decaffeinated and non-carbonated beverages.
A singer’s body is their instrument. On-site stair steppers, weights, treadmills, or other basic exercise equipment provide a way for the singer to stay in shape for the physical demands of the show. It’s also a perfect way to relieve pre-show tension.
Rapid changes in body temperature can be a common cause of susceptibility to colds, flu and sinus problems. Overheating on stage and then resting in an over-air-conditioned room is a sure-fire recipe for disaster. It’s best to maintain a moderate temperature in all backstage areas, and also provide portable space heaters and fans so the singer can tailor the temperature to their own body’s needs.
In dry climates or during the winter months when artificial heat can dry out a singer’s throat and mucus membranes, a humidifier can work miracles for keeping a singer’s voice in good working condition.
DUST AND AIR POLLUTION
Last minute stage sweep-ups stir up dust. This does clean a floor but also puts a tremendous amount of pollutants in the air that can adversely affect a singer’s throat especially if they have allergies. Clean up early or do it with a wet mop.
THE SINGER'S THROAT
Honey and hot water for tea should be available. It wouldn’t hurt to have a supply of throat lozenges on hand. Another good over-the-counter remedy for singers is to take zinc lozenges at the first sign of a cold. The results are amazing. There are several brands and dosages on the market.
THE BACK-UP PLAN
Even with the best precautions, we all get sick sometimes. A venue manager would be wise to develop a relationship with a few Ear, Nose and Throat specialists who would agree to be on call during non-business hours for emergency situations that may arise.
With just a few simple concepts in mind, venue management can create an environment backstage that demonstrates their concern for the artist’s overall health and well being. You can help by making your contacts at the venue aware of which amenities you would appreciate the most. It also doesn’t hurt to be prepared by providing your own special supplies and equipment. After all, a contented artist puts on a better show than one who is disgruntled.
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