Travel Like A Rock Star

Travel Like A Rock Star

Tina Farris Tour Manager

Interview by Lauri Lyons

Tina Farris travels like a rock star with some of today’s most popular entertainers. As the owner of Tina Farris Tours she is the tour manager of your favorite bands. We check in with Tina to learn her behind the scenes journey from being a fan to becoming the boss.

Where are you from?

Tina Farris: I’m a Cali girl.  I was born on a now defunct Army Base in Monterey, CA and raised in Sacramento.

Did you have another career before becoming a tour manager?

I was a French teacher at Compton High School in Compton, Ca. Linguistics are super interesting and of course it helps to get you out of trouble. I also taught Leadership and Spanish.

What inspired you to get into the tour management business?

I was a fan of The Roots. I used to follow them around the world when school wasn’t in session. Then one day they were like….”Just hang out.”

What makes you say “Yes” or “No” to managing a tour?

The Artist and length of the tour.

What is your pre-preparation for a tour?

I do routing, meaning the mileage to see if it’s a bus tour or flights. I do a budget.  I work in tandem with my Production Manager to get day of show times, so I can plan the transportation. I book hotels depending on the budget of group. I book ground, food, extracurricular activities…basically life on the road for myself plus 20 additional people at any given time.

What does your “typical” day on the road entail?

I wake people up, confirm ground transportation, chauffeurs and greeters. I check bags in across many people to save money.  I arrange catering tickets and the after show food.

What type of psychology skills are needed to be a great tour manager?

Patience and manipulation.

What are the perks and challenges of being the “Girl Boss” in a male dominated environment?

It’s all challenges. It helps to find out what your true strengths are, and what you can use to manipulate a situation into the outcome you want.  It’s difficult to keep your ego in check, but I find it’s the only way to make it and avoid the dumb stuff that comes out of people’s mouths.

What was your first tour and where did you go?

My first official tour was with the Roots. We went to Nancy, France and opened for Femi Kuti. It was 1999.

Have you ever “lost” people on the road or missed the plane/train/ bus?

Yes.  Particularly early 2000’s when we toured without cell phones and had to recall where we left whoever, at which gas station on the side of the road, in the middle of a highway in Germany.  I still don’t know how we got Tayyib back. I think maybe he chased the bus down in a taxi.  It’s safe to say, I we now make sure everyone checks in with each other prior to getting off of the bus. If you didn’t let anyone know you left, then nobody knows you left.

What has been your most magical or nightmare moment on the road?

Hmmm, many magical moments, because we make the magic. Possibly Rio de Janeiro with the Black Eyed Peas and Sergio Mendes performing “Mas Que Nada” with a local group of Samba dancers. That whole tour in Brazil was magic.  My nightmare moment was when I left my passport in Finland, but didn’t discover this until I got off of a private plane in Sweden. I had to send the band ahead and wait for someone to fly the passport to me on the following Monday, when flights started again from Pori, Finland.  Then I had make it back to San Francisco, in time to meet the band on the 311 tour. Ha!

Who has left you star struck?

Grace Jones.

What is the dream concert tour that you would like to manage?

Janet Jackson, Tyler The Creator.

What are some of the most unusual requests artists or promoters have made?

 I can’t tell you that….I’m still working. LOL.

How do you take care of yourself on the road?

I don’t.

How long is too long for you to be living out of a suitcase?

I used to stay on the road for 8 months at a time. Now my limit is 2 weeks because I need my bed, my garden, my stuff.  I want to cook all the time.

What are the “must haves” in your suitcase?

Anti Inflammatory, Anti viral, Claritin, hand sanitizer, white and black V neck tees, Backwoods cigars, Tretorns sneakers and Elie Saab perfume.

Do you have any weird personal travel rituals?

I have crazy anxiety before I get on the road. I usually pick fights with my loved ones or something stupid like that. I don’t know why.

How do you adjust to coming home after a tour?

I take a minute. I need to open all of my mail, pay past due bills, and water the lawn. I try to jump into “normal”.  I visit my God kids and all of the homies, so they don’t forget me.

What has been your favorite personal vacation?

Guadeloupe, in the early days with The Roots. We had low funds and I discovered I could be broke anywhere.  I used my mileage and the promise of festival tickets and spent a week there for $300.  It was dope.

Which destination has been the most surprising?

Istanbul was so very LIT and Beautiful. The people were kind, amazing and exotic - all of the corny words you’re not supposed to say.  The food was great and the men were hot.  I could live on the Bosphorous. I dunno, Istanbul is nice.

Have you been tempted to relocate to another city or country?

I often imagine living in Paris or the South of France.  I’m on a property listing that updates me daily. Like the Zillow of France.  It’s changed though. I’m looking in Mexico now.  I love the Pacific Rim.

Where do you love going back to?

Paris, because it’s familiar. I have friends there. I love New Orleans too.

Could you imagine working a 9 to 5 job in one location?

Yes, at a film studio.

What have you discovered about yourself from traveling?

I love new places and new people and new food.  I prefer traveling alone.

Photos © Tina Farris


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