Troy’s Mission Impossible: Mumford & Sons
It was these staggering figures, however, that made it somewhat easier for a handful of local officials to keep quiet about Troy being chosen as a concert location.
“It was an unbearable secret to keep,” said Karin Manovich, director of Troy Main Street Inc., and one of the contacts who worked with Jam Productions Ltd. of Chicago to bring the concert to Troy. “But knowing if you told someone that it would cost the city of Troy so much … that was enough not to say a word to anyone.”
Secrecy has played a major role in how Jam Productions chooses its “Stopover” tour dates.
“I think the secrecy adds to the thrill and excitement of the event, and the hype surrounding which city will be chosen for the tour date helps with ticket sales,” said Patty Rose, president of Troy Main Street and one of only a few people who first knew about Troy being chosen as a 2013 concert location. Out of the three cities chosen, including Guthrie, Okla. and St. Augustine, Fla., Troy sold out first and in less than one day.
Rather than touring mega-stadiums and large cities, Mumford & Sons prefers to host its shows in small towns and venues.
“The concept is from the band. They want to perform in small towns that have a Norman Rockwell feel and they want to see their band have a positive impact on the community,” Manovich said.
With this concept in mind, the band and production company worked with the National Trust Main Street Center to discover potential U.S. locations, which is how, in January of 2012, Manovich learned she could apply for Troy to be considered for a concert location. “I really didn’t think we’d get picked because there were so many cities trying,” she said.
After several months passed, Manovich said she pretty much wrote off the idea of Troy being chosen. But in October of 2012, she received notice from Jam Productions Ltd. that Troy was in the running. “The producers made it clear immediately that this news had to be kept quiet and that if word leaked out, we would not be selected,” she said.
As a potential warning, a band manager relayed a story of an overseas concert that was cancelled when a local official’s child posted about it on Facebook before the band’s official announcement. “That city didn’t get the concert because of that (Facebook) post,” Manovich said. “‘The Gentlemen of the Road’ tour builds up excitement with a countdown on their website (of the cities that will chosen) before revealing the ‘Stopover’ locations, and this is an important part of the experience.”
The number of secret-keepers in Troy expanded quickly as a local team evolved to examine the feasibility of hosting a stopover. The concert would be the largest event of its kind in Troy’s history and the logistics for the event would need to be very well planned out, including a venue with a three-mile fenced perimeter, closed streets downtown and beyond, and fitting 7,000 campsites in and around the city. Diana Thompson, executive director of the Miami County Visitors and Convention Bureau, and Ken Siler, director of the City of Troy Recreation Department, joined Manovich in quickly arranging a meeting with top officials.
The production company had used Google Maps to scout out Troy from above and Rose said they were very impressed that Troy Memorial Stadium – where the concert will take place – was located next to the Great Miami River, which has a large, flat levee good for camping. Because Troy Memorial Stadium is operated by Troy City Schools and the parks and public rights of way are owned by the city, Troy Mayor Michael Beamish, Director of Public Service and Safety for the City of Troy Patrick Titterington and Troy City Schools Superintendent Eric Herman were convened for a briefing. Titterington, an early fan of Mumford & Sons, said he immediately recognized the significance of the opportunity and convinced everyone to move forward.
As time progressed, the heads of the local police, fire and sheriff departments were involved. When it came time for top city and county officials to begin meeting, Titterington said Troy had a stroke of luck. This is because the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure (GOBA) is scheduled to pass through Troy in mid-June, which is a large event, but nothing compared to the number of people that will be in town for Mumford & Sons.
“We were a little lucky because the timing with GOBA worked perfectly,” Titterington said. “A lot of guys on the police force were asking questions of their bosses, but this worked out as a good disguise. They didn’t have to lie, but they didn’t have to tell them anything specific.”
“We have other special events coming in town as well, so that also helped out,” added Mayor Beamish. This includes the Troy Strawberry Festival during the first weekend of June and the U.S. Figure Skating National Theatre on Ice Competition, also taking place in June.
So began a series of meetings between city officials and, eventually, members of Jam Productions and the managers of Mumford & Sons.
Although Manovich and Thompson can laugh about it now, they say the secrecy surrounding the event got very interesting at times, especially once that core group of recognizable figures started walking around downtown together. “People seemed to know something was going on,” Manovich said. “We had to move meetings around to where people wouldn’t see us, and top people were getting together and people wondered why.”
In November, suspicion increased when nearly a dozen representatives from Jam Productions and Mumford & Sons arrived in Troy for the first of two visits. First arriving for a two-day stay, the group consisted of a mix of visitors donned in decidedly “un-Troy” attire and others wearing Zach Brown Band jackets. Manovich and Thompson provided this entourage with a tour of downtown Troy and they visited dozens of locally owned shops and restaurants, as well as parks, pubs, historical landmarks, city and county buildings and other very public, visible places.
“They did not look like Troy Trojans. We considered disguising them,” Manovich joked. “I know there were people wondering what was going on.”
“I think some people thought they were from the Zach Brown Band,” Thompson added.
While touring downtown, the group dined at multiple restaurants, but Rose said they tried to make sure they sat in private rooms or in the back of the dining areas.
“Everyone at the table talked about regular business, but the name ‘Mumford & Sons’ or ‘music festival’ were never mentioned,” she said.
Even when not out in public, Thompson said she had to stay guarded with the information she knew.
“You had to be careful when you were having a phone call in your office,” she said. “I’m one of those people who always leaves my office door open, but during this time, I was closing it.”
Manovich said even emails sent between those in the know had to be void of certain words in the subject lines, such as the name of the bands involved and the production company.
A difficult part of keeping the secret for Manovich was that January is usually a slow time of year for Troy Main Street and a time she often spends working on getting feedback from business owners and discussing marketing, special events and promotions. “Some people wanted to know where I’d been and I was worried they might think I wasn’t doing my job. But the fact was, I was busy; I just couldn’t talk about what I was busy doing.”
Because alcohol will be sold downtown during the concert, Troy City Council also had to be brought into the mix. Just two days before the announcement was made public, council members quietly passed a resolution allowing for alcohol to be served. Nobody noticed.
Beamish said that, contrary to popular belief, it is easier to keep a big secret in a small town; possibly even more so than keeping a small secret in a big town.
“In a small town, you develop relationships and partnerships and you build them based on trust. If we needed to keep a secret and work together, then that’s the way it had to be,” he said.
Beamish said he can not recall an event in Troy that will be as big as the “Stopover” tour, not even when George W. Bush brought 25,000 people downtown in 2004. “I’ve been referring to it as the ‘Epic Event,’” he said of the concert. But regardless of how “epic” the “Stopover” tour will be, the city of Troy and those involved in its planning can be proud that they were able to keep a secret that could easily put Troy on the map. And through it all, Beamish and Titterington said not one word was leaked out.
“I never heard the first rumor,” Beamish said. “It really was a small-town secret.”
Reach DCP freelance writer Matt Bayman at MattBayman@DaytonCityPaper.com.
What you need to know about “Gentlemen of the Road Stopover” tour
- Tickets to the “Gentlemen of the Road Stopover” sold out in just over three hours.
- The two-day event will begin Friday, Aug. 30 with headliner Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (gates open at 5 p.m.), and continue with a full day of music on Saturday, Aug. 31 starting at 1 p.m. at Troy Memorial Stadium.
- The confirmed lineup includes: Mumford & Sons (Saturday), Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (Friday), Old Crow Medicine Show, The Vaccines, Half Moon Run, Willy Mason, Those Darlins and Bear’s Den, with more to be announced.
- Couldn’t get a ticket? You don’t have to miss out on all the fun! Downtown Troy will be a part of the “Gentlemen of the Road Stopover” venue and will include a satellite stage with live bands, street performers, food vendors, after-party events, beer gardens and much more. Visitors without Passport tickets can attend the downtown festivities for a fee, payable at the gate. Passport ticket holders will have access to both the downtown venue and the main concert venue for no additional fees.
- Local shops and restaurants will be open and offering special merchandise, entertainment and novelty items to visitors.
- Shuttle buses will be running throughout the festival weekend to and from designated parking areas.
- The event is expected to draw visitors from 48 states and five foreign countries, based upon ticket sales.