Waiting at Lolla all In a day’s work
It's after 3 p.m. Aug. 3, backstage at Lollapalooza. Scott Burton, VP/Promotion of Capitol Records, tracks down M83’s Anthony Gonzalez. The 93XRT radio booth (unseen) waits for a live interview. Karie Angell Luc-for Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 6, 2012 2:03PM
In his t-shirt, Scott Burton, Capitol Records vice-president of promotions, braved the Aug. 3 Grant Park Chicago Lollapalooza midway. Never mind the human traffic up ahead threatening a headbangers head-on collision.
That beefy bouncer-looking dude?
Nope. Lolla fan.
Blast on by. It’s 2:35 p.m.
“I’m sending a text to someone who is looking for me,” said Scott, studying that rectangular box called a cell phone screen while eye candy, disguised as hot chicks in belly dancer garb, smoked now tanned Marlboros in 90 degrees sun.
But Scott remains supercool from Hoffman Estates Conant High School days.
Our teen years spent in Elk Grove Village, we attended (separately) the July 10, 1977 lakefront Super Bowl of Rock Game III concert that featured Ted Nugent and airborne plastic gallon milk jugs allegedly holding Lake Michigan drinking water.
Was 1970s Soldier Field (which sported garden hoses for water fountains) like Lollapalooza?
“No, this is big time,” said Scott, recalling that molten Nugent concert when plastic water bottles weren’t sold in spoiled food court fashion.
Fast forward to Lollawhatever with behind-the-scenes golf cart amenities.
“I’m a promotion guy, my job is to get records played on radio stations.”
Uh, records, did you say? Well, my man, that dates us both as two who scratched now vintage vinyl LP records on newfangled turntables.
But as a WKDI-Radio staffer at DeKalb’s Northern Illinois University (we’re both Huskies graduates), at least Scott had diversified musical hope.
My WKDI music director often requested (ahem, yelled) that I downplay Elton John and Billy Joel on my 6-9 a.m. live shift.
So it is of no surprise that alternative Scott – a progressive guy whose 1970s blond side swept hair, which once curled shyly near the nape of his neck – that friend of mine who wore prism Pink Floyd concert t-shirts – is today highly regarded in the recording industry.
Just looking into his Lollapalooza eyes, those twinkling eyes our mutual high school teacher once told an apparently fatigued Scott, “Your eyes are like the Fourth of July, they’re red, white and blue …,” well, let’s just say our kaleidoscope eyes have found generational focus.
Let me go on (literal) record here: I am so proud of Scott Burton.
And it’s not because he’s rubbed shoulders with Keith Richards or Coldplay’s Chris Martin.
If you can believe this, Scott actually credits me (of all people) for steering him into the music industry.
As he tells it, I uttered (rare) wisdom at some dorm party.
“You should work at WKDI.”
“Well, that thought never crossed my mind,” replied Scott.
Now inside today’s Lollapalooza media tent, I asked the WKDI alum again: Do you really credit me with getting you into the biz?
“You think I’m making this up, I do,” confirmed Scott.
Alrighty then. Onto industry mentor Jeff McClusky, Scott’s former boss.
“Scott is an inspiration, people trust him,” said McClusky, a 15-year Evanston resident.
“Scott is priceless ...”
Scott and his wife Maureen have blended their five children: Hannah, 17, Danny, 15, Michael, 14, Teaghan, 9, and Ella, 4.
This family man also protects artistic charges of the day.
At Lollapalooza, it was Anthony Gonzalez of M83, famous for the song “Midnight City.”
Its lyric: “The city is my church.”
Gonzalez, that Friday’s 7:30 p.m. Sony stage performer, was booked for several live advance interviews.
But first, “Jeesh!”
At 3:22 p.m., our nonplussed Scott exhaled deeply into his phone. Gonzalez was running late. Hotel interview.
Capitol Records colleague Allison Smith checked in with stations like iHeartRadio and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
Scott conferred with 93XRT producer Marc Alghini (Marc after Dark).
Starry-eyed Karie Tweet: Gonzalez suddenly emerges.
“Sorry for your delay,” says Gonzalez, a tattooed (okay, gorgeous) musician in pencil-thin midnight pants, his Antibes French smile sparkling like Scott’s daytime eyes.
“Enchanté,” is how he greets appreciative interviewers.
“Such a beautiful day,” the Midnight City artist says, walking between takes.
“Such beautiful architecture …
“If the weather were like this all of the time, I would like to be here more.
“I like cities that surprise me, Chicago is one of them, very special.”
Of Lollapalooza: “It’s fine, it’s intense for a short period of time, you know …”
At this point, my half-century-old eyes become Rolling Stones faraway eyes, far from Scott Burton (kidding, Scott).
But amazingly, Scott sees use in me when post-interviews, no golf carts are in sight.
So I’m standing with Anthony Gonzalez while Scott, in his Capitol Records dark backpack, frantically gavottes for wheels to transport his star to the stage.
“Thanks for being patient with me,” I tell Gonzalez, of my mom and pop (music) column about our mutual Scott.
The gentleman in Gonzalez shakes my hand twice.
“You don’t want to make the fans wait,” smiles Gonzalez, graciously.
You don’t want to make Scott Burton wait either.
He waited for these moments his entire life. ~.