Tina Terry with Matt Murphy

Facing the Music: Some Straight Talk with Tina Terry

Tina recently had the opportunity to be interviewed by Janet Hansen over at Mary4Music.com  and shared with her some insight from two decades of experience in management, talent buying, and booking.

There’s a lot of talk in the industry on both sides of the fence about what constitutes being a veteran or a legend in the music business. Artists refer to themselves as being a veteran or legendary when they have no business doing so. And so too, on the administrative side, those who’ve dabbled here and there for a few years inflate their influence for appearances which has caused a great deal of distrust between the artists’ camp and those people they need to help achieve solid business goals.

When it comes down to it, there are just a very small few music professionals left who really know what they’re talking about and would be scared to death to overstate what they can do, because they know there are no guarantees in music. They know nothing comes easily even to the seasoned pro. They know what works. They talk the talk, and walk the walk with confidence and no exaggeration.

Pete Lauro introduced me to Tina Terry recently. She is the owner and head of the Tina Terry Agency — dedicated to booking the roots of American music. I have to say quite frankly she is the most honest of professionals I’ve had to pleasure to interview. While others gloss over questions with regard to the change and challenges music faces, Tina meets every question head on with candor and grace.

With more than two decades of experience in management, talent buying, and booking, Tina Terry knows what she’s talking about and has an outstanding business model to prove it. What you read in this interview is information you can take to the bank no matter what level your career has risen to. And if you want my two cents — these are the kinds of answers you should get from anyone in any discipline on the gatekeeper’s side of the business.

Here’s Tina’s take on facing the music.

You’ve spent your career in talent buying, artist management and now booking. How did you decide to continue with booking and start an agency?

It was nothing I planned yet everything I have been training for! I had my own Agency, Sandbox Productions, for 6 years before joining forces with Piedmont Talent. Returning to my own agency after the owner’s untimely death from cancer was the natural course of progression for me. And, because booking is what I did for 10 years while at Piedmont, it only made sense it would be a booking agency. 

What are the highlights of your years at Piedmont Talent?

The entire decade was a highlight. I had an amazing mentor and the honor of focusing strictly on Blues Music. To represent some of the best in the business. Robert Lockwood, Jr, Carey Bell, Nappy Brown, Sean Costello, Johnny Winter, Lonnie Brooks, Eddy Clearwater, Canned Heat, Homemade Jamz, Eden Brent, Mike Zito, Damon Fowler, Cassie Taylor and Samantha Fish to name a few. 

Who are your current clients?

Bart Walker. Billy D & the Hoodoos. Grinder Blues. Heavy Heavy Hearts. James ‘Blood’ Ulmer. The Kinsey Report. Lauren Mitchell Band. The Peterson Brothers. Seth Walker. Zac Harmon. 

What is the biggest misconception artists have about working with a booking agent?

Assuming we have a magic wand. To believe we create better tours instantly and double their money within the first year. In the end, an Agent’s job is to build on what has already been created and depending where the career is will depend on the time for which the progress can take place.

What is on your Top Five List of things artists MUST do?

  1. Have a professional webpage.
  2. Participate and be very active with social networking.
  3. Hire a publicist, especially for tour support.
  4. Have printed posters and marketing materials
  5. Never lose the ‘show must go on’ mentality.

Conceptually getting “the gig” or a string of bookings is what matters most for touring artists. Talk about getting the “right gigs” as opposed to just taking what is offered, and how that fits into the big picture.

Every artist has a room. Every artist deserves the best room. Not every artist sells enough tickets to be in the ‘right’ room. You are either the vibe, the buzz or the ticket seller. Which markets you are what will dictate the room you can be booked in. And, in markets where you are neither, knowing how to maneuver to become one of the three, is intrigual to properly growing or maintaining careers. 

Rock and roll was borne out of the blues over five decades ago. How do you feel about the heavy influence rock has on contemporary blues crossing cultural and genre boundaries? 

The Blues genre created many other genres of music besides Rock-N-Roll. However, Rock-N-Roll is the one that openly credits Blues as the influence. The fact that both stayed true to their art form, both share the same aged fan base, it is no wonder the two are joining forces for its survival. For the first time in history, Blues is embracing the change and allowing it to remain within the genre. It is focusing less on the 1,4,5 structure and more on the songwriter which is ultimately where it all began and why it birthed the many genres it did. And with this change has come a younger generation that is willing to embrace the Blues and for that you are starting to hear it referred to as roots music. 

Shooting straight from the hip, how does social media really influence bookings, when music survived very well without social networks for eons?

People’s attention spans are shorter than ever and the Internet is their source of learning. It gives the ability to be seen and to reach more people faster than ever. 

From your standpoint, explain which of these elements is the most important in an artist’s press kit: The preview, the review, the interview?

The preview. How it is presented matters most. The objective is to say as little as possible while creatively and clearly showcasing the music. 

What are you looking for in an artist’s history that helps you decide to sign a new artist to your roster?

Every agent knows their strength and their buyer base. The artists’ history and music must mold to the specialty of the Agent. 

Everything about the infrastructure of music has changed over the past decade. How has booking changed? Is it for the better?

Due to the Internet and the amount of musical reality TV shows, the world has more bands than it ever had trying to succeed. It has bred a competitive world where in order to get the gigs, those who sell tickets are willing to take less of a guarantee for a a higher percentage against the door/tickets sold while the younger generation with their social networking skills and hunger to perform are willing to play for less. A good thing? Yes and no. No business should be successful without promotions and planning, and if you aren’t a good business person or are able to find solid business people to join forces with, you probably won’t survive. The downfall is music has become more about business and less about the music. The upside is it is pushing the creators of music to be unique and original in order to rise above. Hence, why all forms of music are starting to merge and more venues are opening their doors to forms of music they once turned away. 

You’ve added more personnel to the Tina Terry Agency creating a bi-coastal company. Tell us a bit about who you’re working with and the idea behind covering both sides of the country.

The Agency books worldwide and will continue to add staff to accommodate the ability to focus on the needs of each and every artist we sign. We are dedicated to the roots of American music and the success for all: myself, the staff, the artist.

Seth Walker to Release Sky Still Blue on June 10th via Royal Potato Family

11 Track Collection produced by Oliver Wood of The Wood Brothers


SETH WALKER Sky Still Blue

Watch/Share “Trouble (Don’t Want No)”

Stream/Share “Easy Come, Easy Go”

Stream/Share “Trouble (Don’t Want No)”

“…an accomplished guitarist and an even better singer, distilling the soul of Ray Charles, the Southern boy roots charm of Delbert McClinton, and an uptown blues turn of phrase (à la Percy Mayfield) into his own distinct voice.” – The Vinyl District

Revered roots music troubadour Seth Walker recently took up residency in New Orleans. Upon relocating to the Big Easy, the North Carolina-native completed his rounds of the Holy Trinity of southern U.S. music cities. His journey began in Austin where he fast became a staple of the Texas blues scene. He’d later shuffle off to Nashville where he’d absorb the cosmopolitan twang of its storytelling tradition. Clearly, however, it is the influence of his current NOLA home with its funky melting-pot swagger that inspired the gospel-soaked fervor and gritty guitar burn at the core of his latest album, Sky Still Blue, due June 10 from The Royal Potato Family.

Abetted by producer Oliver Wood (The Wood Brothers), Walker revels in the devil-on-my-trail grit and longing blue notes that make this latest collection of 11 songs resonate so convincingly. Yet, as Walker’s fans have come to expect, there’s always a sweet melody, a turn of phrase wrapped in a wink-and-a-smile or an undeniable hook close at hand.

“All the moves I’ve made have been so that I can be around new influences centered around music,” Walker says. “I’ve always loved New Orleans, and it definitely brought back a bit of the rough edge that got a little spit-shined on the albums that I did in Nashville. This one’s got some gristle on it, some push and pull, some funky stuff, and some of that Caribbean influence that New Orleans has.”

The seed for Sky Still Blue was planted with five songs co-written with Oliver Wood while Walker was on tour with the Wood Brothers. The rough-hewn lover’s lament “Easy Come, Easy Go;” the intimate, inspirational ballad “Grab Ahold;” the shuffling seize-the-day anthem “Tomorrow;” the organ-soaked blues moan “High Wire;” and the hopeful, intimate closing track “Way Too Far.” In their diversity and directness, these tunes served as a template for the album as a whole, fleshed out by the pair’s continued collaboration in the studio.

“Oliver and I both come from a similar place stylistically, which obviously helps when you’re trying to communicate,” Walker says. “I love the fact that his songwriting is not so calculated, and it really worked with where I wanted to go. As a producer he was the perfect combination of having his ears and his heart on the songs while letting things go organically. He didn’t produce with an iron fist; he was just one of us.”

Sky Still Blue was recorded at Zac Brown’s Southern Ground Studios, the Wood Brothers’ home base in Nashville, and fellow Brothers Chris Wood (also of Medeski Martin & Wood) and Jano Rix made crucial contributions, joining Walker’s longtime band-mates, bassist Steve Mackey and drummer Derrek Phillips. “It was essentially the six of us musically roping this thing,” Walker says. “We all worked great together, and the next thing you knew, we had a record.”

While that camaraderie is evident in the songs’ taut grooves and relaxed atmosphere, Walker’s dexterous guitar work seizes the attention with its soulful lines and serrated edge. His commanding fretwork captures the album’s mood of forlorn optimism, encapsulated in its deceptively upbeat title. Sky Still Blue is drawn from the melancholy lyrics of “High Wire”: “If it pours down on you and the sky is still blue / It might be me crying from my high wire.” As Walker admits, “It is optimistic phrase – but it’s kind of a lonesome image.”

Walker didn’t have much opportunity to be lonesome as a child growing up on a two-family commune in rural North Carolina. His parents were both classical musicians, and his first axe was the cello, not the guitar. The tastes of the commune’s other residents ran more to Texas country music, so his youth was filled with the sounds of Mozart and Beethoven coexisting with Jerry Jeff Walker and Willie Nelson.

Walker discovered the guitar in college and never looked back. “I was just eaten up with it, man,” he says, his enthusiasm still evident. “I was just crazy for it. I immediately gravitated to the blues, but as I played I started to lean towards the uptown side, the jazzier side, and I think that probably has something to do with my classical training.”

His uncle Landon Walker was a jazz bassist and blues DJ on Jacksonville, Florida radio station WJCT, and would mail tapes to his nephew on a regular basis. “It covered the whole gamut of blues,” Walker recalls, “from the Piedmont stuff – Reverend Gary Davis, Blind Willie McTell and Blind Blake – to the Chicago stuff – Muddy Waters and Robert Nighthawk – and a lot of Texas stuff – Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, T-Bone Walker, Lightnin’ Hopkins. But the guys in my dorm room were listening to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, so that blues-rock sound definitely got my attention. It seemed a lot more interesting than going to school, so there went my education.”

Walker set out for Jacksonville with dreams of stardom (“I ended up playing in a Grateful Dead cover band,” he says ruefully), but before long realized that he needed to relocate to a more music-rich hub. He landed in Austin in 1995 and has remained in legendarily musical metropolises ever since.

The albums he’s made since then have consistently vaulted him into the Top 20 of the Americana charts and gleaned praise from NPR, American Songwriter, No Depression and Blues Revue, among others. He’s toured the world as a headliner as well as opening for The Mavericks, The Wood Brothers, Raul Malo, Paul Thorn and Ruthie Foster, among others. It’s all of these experiences and more that leave their well-traveled traces throughout these 11 songs at hand. Steeped in a rich musical heritage, Sky Still Blue is a masterful work conveyed by means of Walker’s expressive, soul-burnished voice, agile guitar artistry and impeccable southern songwriting, all of which have garnered him a reputation as one of the most acclaimed modern roots artists in the country over the last decade

Sky Still Blue


Seth Walker – Sky Still Blue
Available 6/10 on LP, CD & Digitalfrom The Royal Potato Family

Upcoming Tour Dates

5/14 – Kansas City, MO – Knucklehead’s *w/ Bobby Bare Jr.

5/15 – Tulsa, OK – Tulsa Mayfest *w/ Paul Thorn

5/16 – Dallas, TX – The Kessler *w/ Joan Osborne

5/17 – Austin, TX – Strange Brew

5/27 – Des Moines, IA – Flying Mango

5/28 – Evanston, IL – Space

5/30 – Ann Arbor, MI – The Ark

5/31 – Columbus, OH – Natalie’s

6/01 – Indianapolis, IN – The Jazz Kitchen

6/12 – San Antonio, TX – Sam’s Burger Joint

6/13 – Fredericksburg, TX – Luckenbach TX Concert Series

6/14 – The Woodlands, TX – Dosey Doe

6/20 – New Orleans, LA – Chickie Wah Wah

6/21 – Tallahassee, FL – Bradfordville Blues Club

6/22 – St. Petersburg, FL – Ringside

6/24 – Charlotte, NC – Evening Muse

6/25 – Asheville, NC – Grey Eagle

6/26 – Greensboro, NC – Blind Tiger

6/27 – Chattanooga, TN – Nightfall Concert Series

6/28 – Decatur, GA – Eddie’s Attic

6/29 – Montgomery, AL – Capitol Oyster Bar

7/9 – Beaver, Creek, CO – Beaver Creek Music Exp.

7/10 – Carbondale, CO – Steve’s Guitars

7/11 – Evergreeen, CO – Little Bear Saloon

7/12 – Denver, CO – Tuft Theatre






For more info on Seth Walker,

please contact Kevin Calabro at The Royal Potato Family:

917.838.4613 or royalpotatofamily@gmail.com

Bart Walker Signs with Tina Terry Agency

USA Today highlighted Bart Walker as a top ten must-listen-to artist.  Gibson awarded him with the Blues Guitarist of the Year Award (2012) and, he recently returned from his second, sold-out European tour.  This success has more than doubled his listener base in 2013 and with all this buzz and hard work, Bart has proven he is here to stay.  Big things are soon to come Bart Walker’s way.  Stay tuned for even bigger news.


Seth Walker Signed for Exclusive Representation

We are proud to announce Seth’s exclusive representation and welcome him to the Tina Terry Agency.

Time is relative: if you’re just going through the motions, the minutes and hours sluggishly drag on. When you’re doing what you love, the days fly by. In the three years since his last album, Seth Walker moved to Nashville from Austin, wrote songs with friends new and old, and played many, many shows. And just like most people, he thought about life, about love, and about the changes we all experience as you move away (both geographically and philosophically) from those people and places you know so well to try your hand at something new. His latest recording Time Can Change is a culmination of these experiences—the sound of an artist moving beyond his comfort zone and challenging himself to walk new creative ground.


“The first time I heard Seth Walker at a small club in Nashville I was impressed like I haven’t been impressed in 30 years, with performance, presence, and great songs.”

— Delbert McClinton

“Seth Walker swings, rocks, boogies, and plays low down blues all in one set, all on one record. He’s a great singer, and authentic performer of real American music, and he’s writing new classics. Don’t miss a chance to hear Seth. In person or on record, he’s the real deal.”

— Marcia Ball


TTA Signs West Coast Agent

We are excited to bring our first staff member on board. Please welcome Robert Taylor as TTA’s West Coast Agent*.

Although born in Glendale, California, Robert Taylor has resided in Houston, Texas since 1989. Robert didn’t come onto the local music scene until ten years later as a musician. During his tenure as a musician, he gained experience of event planning, fundraising and nightclub promotion.

From 2008 to 2013, Robert was a talent buyer for one of Houston’s historic venues for Blues and Zydeco, called The Shakespeare Pub. During his five year tenure as talent buyer for The Shakespeare Pub, Robert has worked hard to preserve its traditional booking policies and respect the musician must be paid. The philosophy of Shakespeare Pub since 1990. In 2011, with Robert at the helm, Shakespeare’s went from booking local musicians to booking International touring artist, primarily in the Blues/roots genre: Sue Foley & Peter Karp, Samantha Fish, Mike Zito, Candye Kane, to name a few. In 2013, Robert’s hard work earned Shakespeare’s Pub the “Best Blues Club [in] Houston” by the Houston Press.

His dedication to live music and his ability to build relationships makes him a huge asset for the Agency and a wonderful addition to move things forward.

EMAIL: robert@tinaterryagency.com / DIRECT DIAL: 713-409-4264.

Official Agency Website: www.tinaterryagency.com



James “Blood” Ulmer signs with TTA.

Whether as a solo artist, duo, trio or the Memphis Blood Band featuring Vernon Reid (Living Color), James is a purveyor of the true essence of American music.

Blood is among the most distinctive and influential electric guitarists to emerge in the past four decades.  Over time, Blood’s reputation has morphed from that of an avant-garde jazz visionary out of the Ornette Coleman school to elder statesman of the Afircan-American musical vernacular encome – passing jazz, blues, funk and whatever lies beyond.

We are proud to announce Blood’s exclusive representation and welcome him to the Tina Terry Agency.

Official Launch of the Tina Terry Agency

I came to work at Piedmont Talent after having had my own Agency, Sandbox Productions, for nearly 6 years.  February 2014 would mark 10 years with Piedmont Talent.   It was my honor to work with Owner/Creator, Steve Hecht, RIP, my friend, as well as many fine artists and talent buyers as an agent for Piedmont Talent.

It is with great pride and humility that I announce that I will no longer be acting as an agent of Piedmont Talent and instead, I choose to carry forward creating a new agency.  The agency will be dedicated to do the utmost for music and the people who sacrifice so much to bring it to the public.

December 8, 2013 will mark the opening date.  I will put every bit of my well-learned 16 years of experience into the Tina Terry Agency with the goal of bringing innovative music to the buyers/promoters who make this musical world go around.  I plan to return to the philosophies I developed while with Sandbox Productions with the knowledge and experience I have gained as an agent for Piedmont Talent to represent and book interesting artists with all my passion.  The music will always matter.

I will maintain the daily course of what is most trying and at times, a difficult business, as I always have.  I pledge to continue to work hard and maintain the attention to the details that matter while nurturing the relationships with the people behind the music.

My life has been about music, particularly, the Blues, for many years, and I am excited about the new horizons, new opportunities and new musical discoveries.

Thank you to each of you for your part in keeping live music alive.  It is much appreciated.


Tina Terry, Owner/Agent
Tina Terry Agency
2820 Selwyn Avenue, Suite 821
Charlotte, North Carolina 28209
336/273.0446, main
336/255.7109, direct