Rick Modesitt and Chuck Lipps say they book entertainers for colleges, fairs, festivals and other events to make people smile and not just for the paycheck.
Modesitt started Parkersburg-based Rick Modesitt and Associates, or RMA Presents, for short, as an entertainment booking company in 1985. As a hobby, in 1979, he began lining up entertainment to raise money for the Fraternal Order of Police, with his first concert featuring Ray Stevens.
The company, which has five employees, has been growing and does business in 15 states, from the Midwest to the Southeast.
"2012 was our best year," Modesitt, company president, said. "We are on a roll," Lipps said.
The price for acts has gone up this year, Modesitt added. RMA books all musical genres, with pop rock acts costing five times more than country music acts.
Lipps, vice president of RMA Presents, recently returned home after spending a week coordinating nationally recognized entertainment at the Martin County Fair in Stuart, Fla. Featured performers were Florida Georgia Line, Jana Kramer and The Moonshine Bandits.
Lipps and Modesitt are expecting big things from country artists Florida Georgia Line, who weren't well known last summer.
They also like The Hennigsens family band, which is scheduled to perform July 16 at the West Virginia Interstate Fair & Exposition in Mineral Wells.
And keep your eyes on country singer Chase Likens of Point Pleasant, an "American Idol" contestant, and Parkersburg area native Dean Alexander as popular performers, said Modesitt and Lipps.
"People want to see up-and-coming acts, rising artists," said Lipps of Little Hocking, who was the drummer in the bands The Breeze, Cooperwine and Roller before joining RMA in 1999.
And what about those rising stars who have performed locally and made it to the top. A teenage Brad Paisley opened for Garth Brooks in a 1989 show at Howes Grove Park in Belpre. In 1993, Paisley opened for George Jones at the Parkersburg Homecoming and Paisley was the headliner at homecoming in 2002.
RMA booked Taylor Swift for four shows in 2007, including one at Marietta College. Modesitt realized she would become a star after $20,000 in Swift merchandise was sold at a concert in Ohio.
"I knew she (Swift) was going to be big because of her fan base, which was social media driven, her warm personality and how she treated her fans," Modesitt said. "She is really a sweetheart."
Lipps tried to book Alice Cooper for the Parkersburg Homecoming Festival this year. But the size of the stage required for Cooper's theatrical rock show prevented this from happening, said Lipps, who met Cooper, one of his rock 'n' roll heroes, last summer in Pittsburgh.
RMA Presents employees spend many hours working before, during and after the concerts they book. Some performers have asked them to find a gym, golf course, special meals, a dentist, chiropractor and in one case, a place for an entertainer to water ski while in the Mid-Ohio Valley.
In 1988, while in town for a show at Parkersburg South High School, the New Kids on the Block members kept requesting local officials take them to Grand Central Mall, Modesitt recalled.
RMA has signed rock group America for the Parkersburg Homecoming on Aug.18 and Blue Oyster Cult for the Tyler County Fair in Middlebourne on Aug. 9. RMA has been booking the national act at Parkersburg Homecoming since Sawyer Brown performed in 1985.
Charlie Daniels, last year's featured act at Parkersburg Homecoming, was mentioned by Modesitt and Lipps as being the nicest entertainer they have worked with.
Contact Paul LaPann at firstname.lastname@example.org