Don’t Forget Your Early Mentors, You Would Not Be Here Without Them

Barry Weisblatt with Billy Crystal

As I look back on my 30 year career, I realize just how important my early mentors were, and how important it is to recognize the impact and guidance they offered, as well as what I learned from them – both good and bad. I have had at least 5 different mentors who impacted my career and life, and I realize how damn lucky I was.

In 1986 – while a student at UMASS/Amherst, I befriended a local blues-rock band called Curtis T. & The Kick, and set out as their manager and talent agent. This was my first foray into the entertainment world and I soon discovered my passion. I opened up a small talent agency in New York called Reel-Axe Entertainment (while simultaneously working for my father’s company) and I began representing local New York City blues bands.

As it turns out, my father was my original mentor. He could see that I had a real passion for live music and he supported that passion by encouraging me to put a resume together in order to land a job at a real talent agency. Thankfully, I listened to his advice and landed a job in the mailroom at the legendary talent agency, Associated Booking Corporation.   Thank you, Dad!

ABC Booking had been founded in the 1940s by legendary jazzman, Louis Armstrong. Armstrong’s former tour manager, Oscar Cohen, had owned the agency for years and ruled with an iron fist. Oscar became my second mentor and although I was terrified of him then, I realize that his methods would create a toughness within in me that would serve me for the rest of my career. I spent my first three months at ABC making copies and fetching coffee before I was promoted out of the mailroom and made a booking agent. I was given a desk, a rolodex, and a telephone and began booking some of my heroes like BB King, Albert King, and Bobby Blue Bland. It was 1989; I was just 25 years old. My career in the music business had really only just begun. Thank you, Oscar!

After a year and a half at Associated Booking Corp, I moved on to a brand-new talent agency called Artist & Audience Entertainment. A&A was founded by former ICM agent Alex Kochan and opened its doors with two of the biggest clients in the world at that time – Paul McCartney and Guns N’ Roses. Alex was revered in the industry as an innovator and a guy who always thought outside of the box. Alex was the only agent in the business that actually travelled to every one of the tour dates with his clients.

Barry Weisblatt with Carrie Underwood

His principles and leadership ideas were critical to my thinking and to this day, I keep many of the elements that Alex taught me as part of my own fabric. Alex introduced me to the great book written by Steven Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, as well as a dynamic learning opportunity known as The Landmark Forum. I also learned from Alex the importance of handling business disappointment with integrity and grace under pressure.

In 1995, I was fortunate enough to find myself in the right place at the right time and “discovered” my first big client, a young soul singer by the name of Joan Osborne. At the time, Joan was a regional artist without a recording contract. Alex recognized my passion for Joan as an artist and despite his reservations of adding her as our third client, supported my vision and allowed me to sign Joan, and she became my first client. A year later, Joan released her first record, RELISH, which went on to achieve multi-platinum status and was nominated for 6 Grammy awards. As a young booking agent, I looked like I might know a thing or two and my stock rose inside of the agency universe. I was very lucky to have met my third mentor, Alex Kochan. Thank you, Alex!

Joan Osborne’s ‘Relish’ Certified Triple Platinum (3 million copies sold)

I represented Joan for a very long time and to this day, I look back and realize how lucky I was to have met and worked with her. It was through my relationship with Joan that I met my 4th mentor, famed artist manager David Sonenberg. David had been an iconic figure as an artist manager and in the record business for years. David had a sweet aura about him and was a dynamic leader and decision maker. I remember many a day sitting in his office, listening to him talk on the phone, and hanging on every word. David was a master at creating enthusiasm on behalf of his clients with the record company executives at a time when record companies actually mattered. I learned about grace, dignity, and what it meant to support others from David, and I thank you David for your impact.

 

Barry Weisblatt with Jerry Seinfeld

 

In 2000, I took a job at Metropolitan Entertainment. Working for the legendary concert promoter and impresario, John Scher, I oversaw their Corporate Events division. At the time, I was running a fledgling talent agency with basically one client, Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes. John Scher was a huge fan of Johnny’s and had an opening at his company for a talent buyer and corporate event producer. I very much wanted to explore that side of our business, so John and I swung a deal and despite not having any experience producing or buying talent, John brought me into Metropolitan Entertainment and allowed me to learn the trade from the ground floor.

The first event I produced was for the Port Authority of New York in Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. The headliner was Bill Cosby, along with Betty Buckley and Michael Feinstein as the openers. Despite my naiveté, somehow the show happened – I honestly had no idea what I was doing. Two years later, Metropolitan Entertainment was gobbled up by what is now known as Live Nation and I decided to open up my own company, WhiteLeaf Entertainment Group.

But, John Scher left his mark on me. John was always a naturally curious guy, a guy who liked to listen to ideas and had the bravado to take chances on events, artists, and people. He certainly took a chance on me and is without question responsible for giving me the opportunity and experience necessary to start my own company. In my time at Metropolitan, I began to see more and more of a need for someone who could cater to private and corporate clients who were seeking A-List entertainment for their events; someone who understood the marketplace and who could save these clients money on entertainment and production costs. It was here that the concept for my new adventure, WhiteLeaf Entertainment Group, was formulated and my business vision for a boutique service was created. So, thank you, John!

It has been an amazing run thus far and as we continue to celebrate our 15th year (and a re-branding of the company name to Whiteleaf Events); I could not be more proud of our accomplishments and am extremely excited about what’s to come next.

More importantly, it’s a time for all of us to consider who our mentors were (are) and to properly thank them for all of their contributions to us. So, thank you to my Dad, Oscar, Alex, David, and John.

Remember to pay it forward. Someone is looking at you as a possible mentor and you have a responsibility to respond to their trust.

We’re Not Just Rock & Roll Stars!

While WhiteLeaf Events is synonymous with hiring big-name entertainment for private and corporate events, approximately half of our events do not include any form of entertainment. Our clients come to us for creative strategies and our expertise in order to best present their brand. As a result WhiteLeaf Events has produced countless investor conferences, business meetings, product launches, client appreciation events, fundraisers, galas, and award ceremonies.

We’ve built our reputation on producing events all around the country for companies like Tiffany’s, Porsche, The New York Football Giants, Revlon, and GolTV, as well as US Ski and Snowboard Team, Baron Capital, Make-A-Wish, US Swim Team, Nominimum, Dysautonomia Foundation, Flight Centre/Liberty Travel, Hedge Fund Cares, and many others.

Each event not only requires thorough planning, but a strong technical team to meet the needs of our client’s vision. The Whiteleaf Events team are by far and away, the most skilled and seasoned industry veterans you will find. The years of experience that WhiteLeaf Events brings to the table have enabled us to execute flawless events and ensure that our client’s vision is realized and that their brand is expanded and promoted with grace and distinction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York Giants Draft Party @ MetLife Stadium featuring The Bobby Lynch Band!

 

WhiteLeaf Events has once again been called upon by the New York Giants to deliver entertainment for their annual Draft Party held at the world famous MetLife Stadium!  For the past 10 years, WhiteLeaf has enjoyed a wonderful partnership with NYG providing event production as well as exceptional talent for their pre-game celebrations, Fan Fest, and Draft Party.

 


It has always been a great pleasure working with the incredible and professional event staff of the Giants year after year. This event will see fans gather at the stadium to cheer on Big Blue’s 2017 draft picks. Returning for the 3rd year in a row was The Bobby Lynch Band

 

 

Huey Lewis & The News at The Hermitage Club

Recently, WhiteLeaf Events presented Huey Lewis & The News to an insatiable private audience of 750 at The Hermitage Club, a private ski resort located in southern Vermont. With no shortage of hits, the band tore through a 90-minute set comprised mostly of their 19 Billboard Top 10 hits.

Huey Lewis & The News was one of the acts that rode the early ’80s wave of power pop. Songs like ‘Heart & Soul’, ‘I Want A New Drug’, and ‘The Heart of Rock & Roll’ established the band as a multi-platinum success, but it was the iconic ‘The Power of Love’, which was featured in the 1985 megablockbuster Back To The Future, that permanently cemented their status in pop culture.


Speaking with Huey after the show revealed him to be one of the most down to earth and appreciative musicians I’ve ever worked with, a rare trait in an artist who has almost 40 years of experience under their belt. I walked away from that night realizing that Huey had the heart & soul of an old bluesman. Recalling his 1984 sold-out arena tour with support from Stevie Ray Vaughan, for whom he was completely enamored of. That support slot was a huge help to the young guitar slinger from Austin, TX that few had ever heard of before. Heart of Rock & Roll? Well yes, that belongs to Huey Lewis.

Don Felder

Hot on the heels of the 40th anniversary release of one of the most iconic rock & roll songs, ‘Hotel California’, WhiteLeaf Events was called upon by The Hermitage Club to bring Don Felder and his band to the southern Vermont ski resort. Former lead guitarist of one of the most popular groups of all time, The Eagles, Felder has continued to ignite the stage for the past 43 years.

Guests were treated to over an hour of Eagles’ tunes, as well as selections from Felder’s solo repertoire, and a fiery rendition of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s ‘Pride & Joy’. The pinnacle moment of the night of course came when Felder donned his Gibson EDS-1275, a white doubleneck beauty of a guitar that signaled the band was about to launch into the epic ‘Hotel California’. The cascading solo-duel during the coda of the song was as dazzling and profound as when listeners first heard it in February of ’77. The song, which Felder composed in a Malibu Beach house using a 4-track recorder, won the band a Grammy for Record of the Year. Rolling Stone ranked it #49 on its list of ‘The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time’, and it has long since been a mainstay on numerous ‘Best Guitar Solo’ lists.

You can catch Don Felder on tour this summer along with Styx and REO Speedwagon! Or better yet, contact us today and book him for your next event! Barry@WhiteLeafEvents.com

 

Don Felder with his Gibson EDS-1275, 1977

 

Whiteleaf Comedy Events

WhiteLeaf Events is well known for producing headline musical talent, as well as some of the most acclaimed actors, keynote speakers and perhaps our favorite, comedians. We have produced such comedic greats as Jerry Seinfeld, Steve Martin & Martin Short, Billy Crystal, Louis CK, Jason Alexander, Lewis Black, Jimmy Fallon, David Spade, Jim Belushi, Kevin Nealon, Richard Lewis, Susie Essman, Robert Klein, Rita Rudner, Dennis Miller, Sinbad, Dana Carvey, Darrell Hammond, Frank Caliendo, and Wayne Brady. Whether our client wishes to host their favorite musician, or laugh the night away with a legend of comedy, WhiteLeaf Events is adept at providing the best of both talent and production to ensure a memorable affair, be it a 50th birthday celebration, wedding, private family gathering, or corporate event.

comedy

Whiteleaf Events & The US Ski & Snowboard Association

The U.S. Ski Team held their 50th Gold Medal Gala and Fundraiser last week at one of New York City’s most illustrious landmarks, Cipriani’s Wall Street. WhiteLeaf Events is extremely proud that for the past 15 years, we have been called upon by USSA to produce this amazing event. This year’s gala commemorated Olympic Gold Medal athletes, both past and present, dating as far back as 1948. The evening also served as an opportunity for the over 650 donors in attendance to support the USSA by bidding on some truly spectacular items. The auction concluded with an amazing, high-energy trampoline performance from the Flying Aces. This annual event has brought a great deal of funding to an incredible organization dedicated to helping athletes who are the ‘best of the best’ in snow sports. We are incredibly humbled to be involved with such a wonderful event.

From all of us at WhiteLeaf Events, thank you USSA!

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The Most Memorable Moment

Paul McCartney
Sir Paul McCartney

I have been working with the world’s largest stars for almost 30 years now. Of all, the artists I have worked with, I am most proud of having worked with Sir Paul McCartney. The founding Fab-Four member was our star performer at The Metropolitan Opera House at a private event in 2014. An absolute consummate showman, Macca & Co. tore through selections from The Beatles, Wings, and his extensive solo catalog. It was immensely rewarding to be able to deliver such a high caliber talent for this event, and an even more pleasurable experience sitting backstage with him listening to his own description of the very humble beginnings of The Beatles, and his still utter astonishment of the incredible journey he has been fortunate enough to have experienced. Remarkably, this was one of only two occasions where Paul performed at a private event, and I am truly humbled and honored to have been able to work with this universal Icon.