Saturday, March 02, 2013

PD Purple Heart

I earned a PD purple heart this week.  The Clinton Curtis Band has been on tour through the Caribbean, Central America and Colombia through the American Music Abroad program.  I met the band first in Turkmenistan during US Cultural Days on my own AMA tour with Della Mae.

The Clinton Curtis Band is a great rock/blues band from New York.  Their tour was going extremely well, until Clinton's father passed away last week.  So I put on my PD travel agent hat, and got him and his girlfriend Liana (who is in the band) back to Key West the next day so he could be with his family.  Meanwhile, the rest of the band was ready to soldier on and run music classes and workshops.  Problem solved, so I thought.

But as they were in transit from El Salvador to Colombia, I received word that the US Embassy in Colombia was going to have to cancel all concerts and programs because they didn't feel they could run the eponymous band tour without the band leader.  In a rush to keep things holding together, I started reaching out to other AMA acts to see if we could get a replacement singer down asap to keep the tour rolling.

First I reached out to Celia Woodsmith of Della Mae, but she couldn't because the Dellas were on a West Coast tour.  Then I reached out to Eric Robertson of The Boston Boys, who had toured with AMA through the Middle East.  Eric wanted to help, so he was willing to drop everything and cancel a few gigs to assist.

I spent the day working with the travel agent to get him down that night to Colombia, and back in time to his gigs he couldn't beg off.  Got him booked and on a flight down that night.  After an exhausting hustle to get him down, and thinking I got the tour fully saved, I received notice that post still had to cancel two cities on the tour because partners were backing out.  So I had to change even more flights, and earned my stripes as a PD travel agent.

But on the upside, bringing Eric down managed to salvage the program in Bogota.  The band was able to give a concert and workshops and Eric's style fit perfectly with the band; audiences were amazed to find out that they had never played together.  Post was very pleased that we were able to make the Bogota portion a success.

In the end, it felt good to get Clinton to be home with his family in such a sad time, and get Eric down to save a portion of the tour.  Good public diplomacy is found in flexibility and creativity in the face of obstacles.

1 comment:

Abba said...

Re your last sentence: Good POLICY is...

Tell that to Congress and the other wahoos here in Washington.