Cool folks I meet in line: Greg Hammond

Dateline: Lake Champlain Marshal Registration


At every Elite event, Nation event, Opens event and College tourney one of my favorite things to do at the gig is to stand in line and shake the hands of all those folks…not Elites…who have signed up for the event.

This is how it goes:

“Hi man (or woman). My name is Don Barone (or sometimes db). What’s your name? Where are you from and what do you do there?”

Then I smile as I wait for my favorite part…

“Nice to meet you. I’m…”

And I do this anywhere from a hundred to maybe two hundred times, every registration…same question from me, massively cool answers from all those I ask.


Here’s the deal: At every event, when I meet someone who I think is very cool, not “full-blown story” cool but you know, “500-600 words” very cool, I’m going to take a few moments to tell you about “The Cool Folks I Meet In Line.”

Beginning with Lake Champlain cool and that is: Greg Hammond, who signed up to be a Marshal at the tournament.

When Greg walked up to me, this is the first thing that jumped out at me:

I’m just a sort of Dave Matthews fan, but wouldn’t you ask the guy wearing this t-shirt, “Hey man, what’s the t-shirt thing about,” which is basically what I said and this is what the Greg Hammond said back to me:

“I set up the stage for bands like him and his crew gave me the shirt.”

This is how I followed his answer up: “Dude, don’t go anywhere we need to talk.”

And so we did, meet Greg officially like:

By day, actually by “school day” Greg is a vocational school teacher, something to do with welding or bolting or hammering, I forgot; I was trying to get him to the headline stuff which is what the dude does in the summer when school is out.

“I work at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, I set up the stage for all the shows that come through. Set up the lights and all the other stuff that needs setting up.”

The Saratoga Performing Arts Center is a very cool, and great sounding, amphitheater in a state park near Saratoga Springs, N.Y.…one of my wife and mine favorite small towns to hang out in. (They didn’t pay me to say that. For years, I’ve just been paying them money, and I know it will continue that way.)

“What’s your name?”


“…so Don, last night I set up and took down the stage for Chicago – by the way they were awesome. Me and the guys, we wait until the trucks for the group arrive, usually around 8 a.m., we work all day unloading and setting it up to have it ready to go by 6 p.m., then we hang around and watch the show and when it’s done tear it all down again so they can be on their way, usually between midnight and 1 or 2 o’clock a.m. You know they are good to go so…”


This is just a very short partial list of what I can remember that Greg said were some of the gigs he’s done setting up and setting down:

“…so, let’s see, yeah uh huh New York City Ballet was recent, Luke Bryan (I know who these two are), One Republic and Dead & Company (no clue), Zac Brown Band (met them twice at some B.A.S.S. gigs) and Florida Georgia Line (I know where that is, that’s about it). Boy, so those guys, those guys brought in 10 tractor trailer trucks with them, a lot of working this here butt off setting that up and tearing that down, if you know what I mean so…”

I’m thinking, “Pretty cool summer job there, Greg, butt worked off or not.”

“So Greg, of all the folks, groups, ballet dancers you’ve met who has been the coolest?”

And within less than maybe 3 honest-to-goodness seconds the answer came flying out of his mouth.

“So…oh…easy…Willie Nelson, cool man cool, he hung out with us backstage like we were best friends, Willie hands down.”


There you go.

All you gotta do is shake someone’s hand, be polite, and ask them, “Hey, what’s your name? Where you from? What do you do there?”

And then shut up and listen.

Is this a cool gig or what?