Paul Dexter, co-founder of the non-profit organization, Road Cases, has been busy organizing a special panel to take place at The Entertainment Technology Show-LDI2004 on Sunday, October 24 from 11:30am-1:00pm. Entitled "Stage Lounge," this panel take place in a talk show format and will be filmed as part of a future cable TV series about Road Cases. Ellen Lampert-Gréaux chats with Dexter about the development of Road Cases and the upcoming session.

ELG: How are things going with Road Cases in general? Has the industry been supportive?

PD: There are two questions there, Ellen, but the speed in which things are going with Road Cases can most definitely be attributed to industry support! Essentially it is still a concept until we have some commercial success with it. Up until now, Road Cases has just been an internet place for industry people to go on to learn about our ideas and for us to determine interest and feasibility for some of our ideas, both commercial and altruistic. It’s been a combination of word of mouth and international publications that have brought awareness, which then links them to the site to see what it’s about. I was determined with the project too not to use my own venture money. That way, I could be certain that it’s not an ego-fueled dream, but one that is shared with the industry at large. Since mid-April of this year, we’ve had three main sponsors to kick start us and most all industry magazines on board, which has resulted in about 5000 hits and 200 registered members and climbing, from across the nation and a few from across the globe.

ELG: Tell me about the session you have planned for LDI. It sounds very exciting...

PD: I’m thrilled with the prospect of it because it is truly an industry first. It’s like this: I perceive panel sessions at conventions much like the writing has been in production magazines. With respect, it’s informative, but not much attention is paid to real life comparison or entertainment value for somebody having to sit through this stuff. I mean, somebody might say something clever or witty along the path of the non-scripted monologue or exchange of panelists, but for the most part, it’s pretty straight information of...I did this to achieve that effect there or hey, check out what this new software can do for you. I don’t intend to be disparaging about it, because information is our survival. But, I prefer a route that brings the real life element into my writing and sessions with audiences. You may know the three "R’s" but how do you deal with people? As far as I’m concerned that’s a fairly key element missing in our now corporate and technology heavy world. Road Cases will primarily be an entertainment talk show format that we are calling "Stage Lounge". It will feature some of the best storytellers of road experiences that I’ve have ever met and we intend to document the session, on film, as a segment for a pitch to cable TV. It should cover the gambit of historical and educational to witty and funny.

ELG: Who are your "talk show" panelists for the session?

PD: Willie Fyffe (Deep Purple and Ronnie Jame Dio’s personal tour manager), Jeff Pilson (bass player for Dokken and Steel Dragon, the fictitious band in the movie Rock Star), Pyro Pete (toured with Metallica, ACDC, and on the last Rolling Stones tour), and hopefully Richard Cole who is coming from England. (Led Zeppelin's tour manager from 1968-1983, who wrote the book "Stairway to Heaven"), and a few surprise guests. Individually they are stars in their own right. Collectively, it’s a diverse group with a common bond. We may also have a "hot seat" for brief interviews. I can hardly wait for the exchanges, and I’m the host!

ELG: How did the idea to make a film about Road Cases come about?

PD: Larry McNeny, my partner in this venture, kicked my ass into gear with the TV concept first, at the beginning of this year. A brief background to this is that we’ve been friends and in touch with each other through life’s changes since we toured with Ozzy in 1982. I was the lighting designer and Larry was the tour manager. Anyway in 2000, I wrote an article called Is There Life After Rock’n’Roll Touring? Larry’s TV concept of using road experiences, told by the real-deal guys and a celebrity presenter, dovetailed into my article’s message and then he said, "I’ve got a name too. How about "Road Cases?" So we got to work to make it happen.

ELG: What is the "Stage Lounge" you are hosting on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at LDI and what will be happening there? What can people expect if they drop by?

PD: The "Stage Lounge" is simply what the title says. It’s an environment that will be our TV stage setting. It will depict a backstage, behind-the-upstage-black-curtain, living room for the crew. It will have road cases stacked high, a few comfy chairs and a low case used as the coffee table with a bunch of Heineken bottles on it, that we can also put our feet up on. On Friday and Saturday, "Stage Lounge" will be open to all former and presently touring attendees. The cameras will be rolling and we would like to invite them to come and tell their favorite road tale. There are thousands in the world that have toured with countless productions over the years and we’ve deduced that each person has at least one or two stories of an extraordinary experience that they have told several times and are really good at. On Sunday, we are hoping that the "Stage Lounge" talk show will inspire people to interview after the session ends at 1pm. We would really like it if they come forward too – you know ... the people that want too but are a bit shy about it. Get over it! Now is your opportunity. In order for this to work it positively needs to be a communal effort. We want others who built this business and maintain it to have a hand in Road Cases.

ELG: What can people do to help support Road Cases?

PD: First, any visitors to the convention or exhibitors, who have been out on tour— please take a few minutes and come by the "Stage Lounge" and speak to our interviewer and tell us your amazing story! If you know of someone that toured and has amazing stories, but refuses the notion of a camera documenting it, come and tell us and we’ll drag them kicking and screaming to face their camera fear. On the sponsorship front, we are looking. This is a machine and the bigger it gets the more fuel it needs, just like any business. Sponsorship money will go a long way to help market Road Cases and build the infrastructure needed to develop an association for touring professionals. There are some great long-term benefits that Road Cases has planned to help many in our industry maintain a stable lifestyle while they pursue freelance careers. Go to www.roadcases.org and see what it’s all about.