Call of the Wilds

Helpful readers like DL have filled in the blanks for me, and so for those equally blanks slates out there, a follow up to the earlier post about Wilds & Associates, the outfit organizing the new SGM Fanfair next summer. Wilds is owned, I gather, by Randall Wilds, who usually travels with John Lanier. A few years back he decided to start a talent agency. By all accounts I have heard, the agency seems like the real deal, insofar as it appears to have staying power. Not surprisingly, a lot of the lesser known artists playing Fanfair are represented by Wilds’ agency, which is a smart move on his part to create an event centered around his own stable of talent while giving the whole affair the appearance of something with much broader appeal. I still think it’s hard to imagine paying $20 (about the same price as an NQC ticket, remember) to sit through an evening anchored by Lulu Roman, Michael Combs, and Eva Mae Lefevre (God bless ‘er) … but that’s just me.

Of course the real juicy bit in all this is the Hopper’s scheduled appearance at Fanfair- quite a coup for Wilds. It remains to be seen whether Fanfair turns out to be anything remotely like a rival for NQC. But no matter, it’s clear that Fanfair aspires to rivalry, and in that case Claude Hopper’s decision to play the date only solidifies my sense that Hopper is both a shrewd businessman (if not one of the nation’s leading businessman, and his bio rather self-aggrandizingly claims) and no toady for the NQC. For a while now I’ve heard that he and most of the rest of the NQC board differed over the direction of the Great Western Quartet Convention, or whatever it was called back when NQC had a stake in it - the difference being that Hopper thought it was worth investing in and the hardliners on the NQC board didn’t (it’s my understanding that the Western Convention is now jointly controlled by Hopper and Les Beasley). Taken together with outbursts like his “political speech” as NQC this year and his Fanfair appearance, all this stuff makes a pretty persuasive case for Claude Hopper: Not a Pure NQC Partisan. Given the agenda-discipline of NQC and the fortified front it tries to present to the public, Hopper’s independent streak is noteworthy (of course his kind of independence is made alot easier by his considerable financial clout). I suspect Hopper’s participation in Fanfair derives from his own sense that Fanfair isn’t going to undercut NQC in any real way and from his longstanding practice of getting the Hoppers out in front of the best crowds anywhere they are assembled (whether in Louisville, Chattanooga, or Somewhere Out West). Now let’s see if any other groups with ties to NQC sign on to Fainfair. Anybody (except the Baptists of course) wanna bet on who will be in and out among the NQC-board groups?

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