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FROM: Penobscot Bay Business Monthly, June 1997


By Robert Leuner, Contributing Writer

Have you ever wondered just how the Camden Opera House landed the Smothers Brothers Show this summer? Or how Doug Stone was able to perform at last year's Maine Lobster Festival? Those performances among countless others, from the Rolling Stones tearing it up at Madison Square Garden to the Boneheads getting down to their special brand of rock and roll in Camden are all carefully orchestrated by booking agents. These people work behind the scenes, making sure both artist and audience go home satisfied. One of the region's most renowned agency is spearheaded by Chuck Kruger.
To say that Kruger knows his profession would be understating the obvious. Kruger is one of those rare individuals who stepped gracefully from one career to another without missing a beat. An established musician for 20 years, Kruger walked away from the limelight of center stage. Armed with a firm understanding of what it takes to succeed in front of an audience, he moved quietly backstage and started his own booking company, Entertainment Resources. Now his company brings a wide variety of talent to New England's assorted and varied stages. Stages he remembers well.

"I had wanted to leave entertaining," he said, describing how the wear and tear of the road and smoky rooms had begun to take their toll. "And I had an offer for a job, which I didn't really want to take when Tim Sample offered me the opportunity to be his manager." Gradually as he picked up other acts like Dave Mallet, Devonsquare and Schooner Fare, he performed less and less until in early 1990, he abandoned the stage completely.

"I make things happen," he says. "When I book a gig, I know I've added a whole lot of value to that booking. In many ways I have greater performing experience than the people I book and it is very satisfying to me that I can bring a national act to areas where they thought they could only bring in a local act."

The fact that Kruger's knowledge of the entertainment industry comes from personal and professional experience perhaps explains why he has been so successful as an agent as well. Kruger's performing career began in Philadelphia where he played guitar and sang. He then attended Nasson College in Springvale, Maine, playing weekends at Sugarloaf and in North Conway, New Hampshire.

He also had a glimpse into his own future, although he did not realize it at the time, doing bookings for the Profile Theater Company, precursor to the Portland Stage Company. "The 70's were a great time to be single," reflects Kruger. "I feel lucky to have lived in that period and enjoyed it. Someday I might like to go out and perform again, but I can't say when or if that day will come."

As Kruger eased from stage to office, he also began working with the Waldo Theatre in Waldoboro. That tenure lasted six and a half years until last November when he gracefully stepped down due to the overwhelming demands of Entertainment Resources. "I simply had too much on my plate," he said. "The position had plateaued for me, and it was calling for another kind of talent. It became clear to the board of directors and to me that it was time to leave."

Surprisingly, 70 percent of the Entertainment Resources revenue comes from corporate bookings, performances the general public hears little or nothing at all about. Kruger boasts a long list of corporate clients including Central Maine Power, MBNA, Dead River Company, Bowdoin College, Bass Shoe and QVC. The list, impressively, goes on.

"Corporate bookings are very big," says Kruger. "A lot of people don't understand that this is what we do. We can set up a cruise for 200 people with lobsters and a dance band on Penobscot Bay or we can book General Norman Schwartzkopf at the Samoset. Yet there are so many clients that don't know what we can do for them. We sweat the details so painfully."

Kruger recalls in 1994 when Chubby Checker performed for a corporate client at the Samoset Resort in Rockport on a Monday night, and the performance so enthralled the client that a repeat performance was requested that Thursday.

All of which Kruger found out on Wednesday evening. "I learned that you never say no, it's always yes, but," he said. "We had to get Chubby Checker and his band from Cape Cod to the Samoset and back to Cape Cod for a 10 o'clock show the same night. It was our most impressive piece of booking because it was so last minute." Which is a prime example why Kruger's already long list of corporate clients keeps growing.

As with his performing career and his position with the Waldo Theatre, Kruger now finds himself stretched to the limit. "I'd like to eventually build up the business so it could be spun off a bit. Right now I'm in the thick of it. I see us eventually taking on a team concept, working with musicians and performers from a business standpoint. Too many musicians look at their job as; get the gig and show up. Well, that's wrong. It's a partnership between the performer and the promoter. Where I come in is to bring both of them up to the next level."

That next level can be seen at a theater near you, throughout the northeast.


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