20 Questions

Hank Straty – Getting it Done at The Bluestone in Columbus


20 Questions is our opportunity to talk with various people in the country music industry. Everyone from musicians and singers to DJ’s and live venue managers.

This month we talk to Hank Straty who is the General Manager of The Bluestone in Columbus, Ohio. Straty not only books acts and promotes shows, but does a long list of other jobs to keep his live music venue successful.

  1. Where were born and raised?

“Fort Knox, Kentucky.”

  1. What brought you to move to the Columbus area?

“Family. I, moved here from Indiana.”

  1. What did you do before The Bluestone?

“Designed restaurant concepts.”

  1. What was the attraction for you in concert promotion/booking, etc.?

“It just kind of happened. I always had a love for live music. I started doing small shows and it simply grew to festivals.”

  1. When did you start working at The Bluestone?

“October of 2010. The business that occupied the building was failing. I was brought in to clean it up and re-brand the space. My official title is General Manager. I’m responsible for all operations, bookings, talent buying and marketing.”

  1. What is an average day like for you?

“If it’s a show day, it starts early (6am) and ends late (3am). I’m very involved with all aspects of a show from production, hospitality or just simply running around making sure our facility is clean and ready for our ticket buyers. I make sure our beer is cold and we have enough people to get it to our patrons. I hate long lines! I can also be found on a tour bus catching up with an artist I haven’t seen in awhile or making new friends with one I just met. I’ve also been known to sweep the floor after all have left.”

  1. What is your favorite part of the job?

“When the headliner hits the stage and the crowd roars.”

  1. What is your least favorite part of your job?

“People that go to a show and ruin it for others by being stupid.”

  1. What is one aspect of your job that your friends don’t understand?

“I’m in the business of selling tickets, not giving them away.”

  1. You work with a lot of regional bands. Who are some of your favorites?

“Almost all of our bands come out of Nashville now. My favorite all time local artist is Cliff Cody, he is an amazing guy with one of the best voices in the business. Ohio has a lot of great talent though, it would be hard to list them all.”

  1. Who have been some of your favorite national performers to work with?

Eric Church, Aaron Lewis, Drake White, Love and Theft…just to name a few. They put on some of the best live shows you will ever see.”

  1. What are some of the highlights of shows at The Bluestone for you personally?

“I love that almost every artist walks off our stage and says “Wow, that crowd is awesome!” I love the connection the artist gets, and the fans get, at one of our shows.”

  1. How long have you listened to country music and how do you think the change of the traditional sound has changed the industry?

“I watched Hee-Haw as a kid in the 70s. Times change and music changes, if you don’t like it, change the channel. There is something for everyone, but it’s not all for everyone.”

  1. What have or who has been some of the biggest surprises in your opinion in country music over the past couple years and why?

“That’s a hard one because I don’t want to hurt any feelings. I’m mostly surprised by how many great artists never get on the radio and how some get there at all.”

  1. What advice would you give to local/regional bands that would like to perform at The Bluestone?

“Come to a show at The Bluestone once in awhile and introduce yourself, but not when the headliner is on stage. I want to enjoy the show too.”

  1. What kind of advice would you give to someone who wants a job like yours someday?

“Come spend a show day with me, if you can follow me step for step, we can chat after.”

  1. When you not working, what are some of your favorite hobbies?

“Fly Fishing, snowmobiling, sitting around a fire with my dudes or most important, hangin’ with the love of my life, Sarah.”

  1. If you were not a concert booker/promoter, what do you think you would be doing right now?

“Hard one. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I would love to get paid to Fly Fish all day or run a food truck.”

  1. You have a great following of fans at The Bluestone…What would you tell the folks who come out to the club regularly?

“Thank You! You make this place what it is and without you it’s not possible.”

  1. What upcoming shows are you looking forward to this fall/winter?

“We have some Texas boys coming through for the first time – Aaron Watson, Josh Abbott and Whiskey Myers. We also have some old favorites like David Nail as well as some great openers. I love getting new artists in that I know will blow people away and we have some good ones lined up!”

Hank Straty of The Bluestone with Aaron Lewis.

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