20 Questions

Chuck Lipps – A Music Career of Performing, Promoting and Event Production

on

20 Questions is our opportunity to talk with various people in the country music industry.  Everyone from musicians and singers to public relations and concert promoters.

This month we talk to Chuck Lipps who started his career in the music business as a drummer and was a member of the Akron based band The Breeze. For the past 18 years he has been a part of RMA in Parkersburg, WV and is currently the Vice President.

  1. When did you first start playing music and what made you gravitate towards the drums?

“In 1963 I was 9 years old and The Beatles were exploding. I wanted to be like Ringo Starr. I joined the grade school band. I remember making a drum set of a cardboard box snare drum and pie pan cymbals. When I was 14, my parents got me a “real drum set” for Christmas, which I still have. I started my first band called Psychedelic Rhythm and we won first place in my high school talent show. I learned to play a little guitar along the way but found that playing drums what was what I could do best and play in a band.”

  1. What bands were you a member of during your full time playing days?

“In 1974, I was in a successful WV rock band called Copperwine. In 1977, I moved to Akron because the Cleveland rock scene was happening. I had a rock band called Roller and we played the NE Ohio club circuit until 1983 when The Breeze was put together.”

  1. A lot of our readers are familiar with The Breeze and you guys were together for a long time. How did that band originally form?

“In June 1983, I joined as part of a house band at the Rose Lounge in Copley, OH. Through numerous member changes and wanting to play full time, I finally found the dedicated members in 1986 when myself, Ron Bevan, Jimi “Crash” Marchese and Marcc Nutter went on the road to chase that dream in country music.”

  1. You performed a lot in the Cleveland / Akron area. Any favorite venues that you performed at and why?

“There are so many. Playing the Akron Civic Theatre and seeing our name on the marquee was a dream come true for us ever since we were kids. Seeing our name on the Goodyear blimp at their corporate party was cool. Doing our final show New Year’s Eve 1997 at the John S. Knight Center was emotional. So many fairs, festivals, clubs and other events supported us for many years.”

  1. As The Breeze, you guys had a ton of fans. What would you say to each of the fans if you had the chance to meet them in person?

“Thank you for your long term support and liking our music. You gave us the chance to have a shot at Nashville. The sold out 2016 Tangier reunion showed us a surprising base of fan dedication for over 20 years. That is special in your hometown!”

11133688_933337903364897_5041297167368486530_n

  1. I’m sure there is more than one, but, what was one of the most memorable experiences you had performing?

“Undoubtedly Charlie Kriak asking us to perform for former President George H. W. Bush, Governor George Voinovich and with Larry Gatlin on July 18, 1994. What an honor! How many people get to meet a President? I was also fortunate to meet President George W. Bush on September 5, 2004 and provide entertainment for his rally in Parkersburg, WV.”

  1. If you could go back, would you do it all the same?

“You always question things you would have done differently but I look back at how blessed I am to still be a part of the music business. I continue to make lifetime memories and each one is better than the last. I’m very happy and thankful to be where I am today.”

  1. You had the opportunity to tour with Randy Travis for months. What was it like to work with a Country music icon like Travis?

“The Breeze opened our first show for Randy in Marietta, OH on September 16, 1986. We were very lucky to be asked to be his opening act on several shows in 1987-88. We were a part of country music history that was happening at the time. To recently bring Randy back to the Marietta, OH venue 30 years later and salute his music was a wonderful experience and a small part of country music history.”

  1. You also worked a lot with Charlie Daniels. I have had the chance to meet him and know he is a great guy…how was it working with him?

“Charlie is the best! I became a Southern Rock fan in the late 70’s and loved Charlie’s music and what he stood for. I first met him in 1985. The Breeze opened several shows for him and appeared on the Charlie Daniels’ Talent Roundup show on The Nashville Network. I’ve been fortunate to book several shows with him over the years. 30+ years later, I’m proud to call him a friend. He is a legend.”

  1. You recently attended the Country Music HOF VIP Ceremony for Travis, Daniels and Fred Foster. How was that experience and who else did you meet that night?

“What an honor to attend an “invitation only” event. Randy and Charlie are my two biggest heroes and friends in the business. To be there and see them both inducted was a dream come true. And to hear Randy sing “Amazing Grace” was unbelievable! I also met Fred Foster, Charley Pride, Bobby Bare, Ralph Emery, Jeff Cook (Alabama) along with Randy and Charlie’s bands. Those are the guys that make it happen every night.”

  1. You also worked in radio for a time. How was that transition for you after being a touring musician for so long?

“After The Breeze, I wanted to somehow stay in the music business but move back home to Little Hocking, OH and my family. I always loved radio. There were plans to build an event center in Parkersburg, WV in 1998 and I had a chance to run it. As a kid 50 years ago, I listened to my friend and DJ Randy Jay on the radio and he gave me the chance to come back home. I worked in radio sales for 2 years and the event center levy failed in November 1999. A few days later, Rick Modesitt asked me to join RMA. I’m beginning my 18th year and I’ve never looked back. I enjoy entertainment.”

  1. Do you think being a musician helped with your time in radio?

“Yes. I always thought I had a good ear for songs. I remember telling the PD at the radio station in 1999 he needed to add new artist Brad Paisley and his song “Who Needs Pictures.” 15 weeks later he did. Enough said.”

  1. What other jobs have you had besides musician, radio and your current position at RMA?

“I graduated from Ohio University in 1976 with a BSED degree. I wanted to be a teacher and a coach but I couldn’t let go of music. And I promised my parents I would graduate. I was a substitute teacher in Akron Public Schools for 20 years all along while pursuing my music goals. I’m thankful for my degree because it gave me a job when I needed it.”

  1. You are now the VP of RMA Presents. What do you do and what happens during a “normal day” for you now?

“Every day is an adventure and flexible scheduling. At this time of year, I’m booking fair and festival shows for summer 2017. I have shows in Florida in January and February already booked. Summer season runs June through October and we sometimes have multiple shows daily in different locations. That can be a challenge, as you have to deal with a lot of different issues and make sure all the pieces are in place. Once the season ends, you start the cycle again. It’s a full time job and there really is no down time.”

  1. What shows and festivals and other events does RMA coordinate and produce?

“In addition to fairs and festivals, we are a full service booking agency and will find you an act for any event within your budget. We are currently doing business in 16 states with most of it in OH and WV. Watching some of our long term clients hit it big over the years include the Festival of the Bells in Hillsboro, OH (Taylor Swift, Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley), Mountainfest in Morgantown, WV (Ted Nugent, Charlie Daniels, Grand Funk Railroad), Friends of Coal Auto Fair in Beckley, WV (Travis Tritt, Jake Owen, Little Big Town) and the list goes on.”

  1. You still get to perform. What have been some of the recent shows that you have played?

“I still like to play. I recently did 2 shows with David Allan Coe. That was a challenge but fun. No rehearsal. Just show up, play and follow along. He does a variety of parts of traditional country songs along with some of his own and tells stories of his life. He’s 77 years old, a legend and the crowd loves him. And he still opens his show by saying he was born in Akron, OH. I was so happy to bring myself, Ron Bevan, Gary Carter (all at 1986 show) along with Dave James together as a band to open for the 30 year Randy Travis Salute show. That was special and so much fun!”

  1. You have also had the chance to tour with and work with some of the biggest names in Country music. Who were some of the best to work with?

“In addition to Randy Travis and Charlie Daniels, several others come to mind. Neal McCoy, Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney, Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum, Josh Turner, Jake Owen and the list goes on.”

  1. You have seen so much change in Country music, too. What kind of music do you listen to on a regular basis?

“I listen to a mix of current and classic country, classic rock and bluegrass. Most of our business is those type of acts.”

  1. Who are some of your all time favorite country artists?

“Randy Travis, Charlie Daniels Band, John Anderson, John Conlee, Alabama, Neal McCoy, Conway Twitty, McGuffey Lane and so many more!”

  1. Any up and coming acts that you think will be big soon?

“Tucker Beathard, Chris Lane, Brett Young and William Michael Morgan seem to be leading the pack right now. Social media has changed the way we do business so it changes constantly. It’s now all about building a committed fan base that will financially support the acts. Music is now free and major labels are few. What a ride I’m on!”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *