Nashville school teaches driving for celebrities
Posted: Wednesday, March 9, 2011 8:01 pm
NASHVILLE (AP) — Nashville is the little-known capital of the bus touring business, with more than 80 percent of all U.S. touring bus companies leasing their fleets for North American music tours of all genres.
So it follows that there is a school in Nashville to teach students how to drive buses for celebrities.
The Celebrity Bus Drivers Academy is accepting applications for its April class, the third since Chip Huffman and partner Tandy Rice launched the first-of-its-kind driver’s school in Nashville last year.
Huffman, a former celebrity bus company owner, said he and his partner want to help licensed charter bus and big-rig drivers break into the notoriously difficult-to-penetrate business.
“For 23 years, I ran Nitetrain (a bus company), and I must have fielded 20 calls a month asking, ‘How do I run one of those star buses?’ The answer is you have to have three years of experience. You know what the next question was. They couldn’t get the experience.”
The class is designed to give aspiring drivers the inside track on the rules of driving celebrities.
There are two key areas of study. The first is how to operate all the extras — the tracking systems, Internet, electric and sound equipment that are part of the celebrity road experience.
“They’re the captain of that bus,” Huffman told The Tennessean newspaper. “If they’re on the road with Carrie Underwood for six months, they don’t necessarily have to know how to fix everything, but they have to know how to take charge of that bus.”
The second key component: “We try to teach them how to deal with the music business personality,” Huffman said.
“They need to know what to say, what not to say, how to act. Your star doesn’t want a star-struck driver who wants her autograph for his niece.”
Huffman said drivers also have to understand they’re most likely to experience the less-glamorous side of celebrity life.
“We tell them all the good parts and all the bad parts. By the time we finish talking about the lead singer who had too much to drink and threw up in the bathroom, and it’s your job to clean it up I’ve lost some of them.”
The job is not for everyone. You need to be calm, put your needs behind the performers’, sleep at odd hours, stay away from home and family for weeks at a time.
But the rewards?
“You get to go places and meet people you would never meet in your lifetime,” Huffman said. “It is rewarding to watch a No. 1 artist make it up through the ranks, do great shows, have huge crowds, and know you were literally part of getting them there.”
Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com
Published in The Messenger 3.9.11