Orchestra Hall (2)
I had imagined that the risks involved in introducing lesser-known artists could be lowered by combining them with established acts. I thought the audience would be more inclined to take a chance on an unknown name when they saw it on a list with the Limeliters or Josh White, and besides, many of them had already bought tickets to the whole series, so they might as well come. That‘s not how it worked out.
In practice, that first series was better for my image than it was for business. Most of the shows that fall and winter broke even; only Carlos Montoya and the Clancy Brothers made any money. But the point (not to mention a modest profit) was made. For the first time in my life I had some cash in hand. Next year I would do it again, with a bit of a track record to stand on.
Harry Zelzer, the man who controlled the classical music market in Chicago, would always come out in front of the audience to present his shows. He knew many of his regular concert-goers by sight, even by name. I tried to do the same. I would be in the front of the house before each show, taking care of problems and misunderstandings. After the business really exploded, I couldn’t keep up with that personal element any more, but I kept at it for as long as I could.