During his first semester at Anderson University, Eryn West attended a Big Daddy Weave concert.
The five-member contemporary Christian band is one of Christian music’s most played artists and biggest headlining touring artists and has received multiple industry awards and nominations.
At the time, West was the drummer for local band The Lasting Hope, but he found time to go to the concert.
After the show, he went up to some of the band’s crew, introduced himself, let them know he was interested in concert touring as a career and offered to help them tear down gear and learn a little bit about the process.
One of the crew members connected West with the group’s tour manager, Brad Fogarty.
“We only got to talk for maybe two minutes,” West said. “He gave me his business card, so I reached out to him via email that next week and just said, ‘Hey, great to meet you. I would love to chat more, hear more about what you do. If there are any opportunities you have on the road, I would love to be considered and talk about possibilities of that.’”
The next week, Fogarty called him.
“He said he had been praying about our meeting together and felt that the Lord had showed him to give me every opportunity with his company that I was willing to take, which was pretty mind-blowing for me,” West said.
West thought about quitting college and going on the road with the crew, but after talking to his parents, he decided to finish working toward his degree.
It only was going to take two years thanks to earning an associate degree in general studies from Ivy Tech Community College through the Austin Crothersville Early College Initiative. West earned that a couple of weeks before graduating from Crothersville High School in 2014.
In May 2016, West received a bachelor’s degree in general studies with a concentration in music business.
While in college, West worked with Fogarty’s company, Red Letter Management, and went on a couple of cruises for the national Christian radio station K-LOVE to handle artist relations.
Three days after his college graduation, West drove to Nashville, Tennessee, hopped on a bus and went on the road with Big Daddy Weave for two weeks.
He later served as merchandise manager, a video technician and a lighting technician before taking over Fogarty’s position as tour manager at the start of 2019.
West is 45 shows in so far this year and has another 30 this summer and 40 in the fall.
“I kind of have the dream gig, if you will,” he said. “They are some of the best guys to work with. Who they are onstage is exactly who they are offstage. I think for now, I’m loving what I’m doing. I’m excited for the rest of the year.”
Longtime interest in music
Growing up with an interest in music and later joining The Lasting Hope, West said he ultimately wanted to land a job in the industry.
As much as he liked playing the drums, West said he loved all of the behind-the-scenes work, including website development and merchandise inventory.
Lead vocalist Logan Oakes said West found his niche.
“You may have not known at that time, but now looking back, everything you did was kind of preparing you just the way you moved in the band,” Oakes said to West. “It was very apparent that you were going to do something like that or that you had the knack for something like that.”
The last couple of years with The Lasting Hope, West reached out to venues or crews helping them set up to figure out all of the details.
“Honestly, I grew to love that side of it way more than being onstage playing,” he said.
“I just think you naturally have more of a servant heart,” Oakes said to West. “That was more of a service position than being served all of the time.”
West’s first taste of that side of the industry came with Red Letter Management on the K-LOVE cruise in January 2015.
Fogarty’s company was hired to assemble a team of people to handle artist relations. West said they got the artists and their families and their gear on and off the boat and ensured they arrived at their soundchecks and performances on time.
Since then, he has been on eight cruises, including five of the K-LOVE cruises.
“We would bring a team of 16 people on from Red Letter Management, and we would each be assigned to a different artist,” West said. “I would basically be assigned to contact the artist when they arrived to the port.”
On the road
Shortly after receiving his college diploma, West spent two weeks on the road with Big Daddy Weave.
Formed in 2002, the group consists of Mike Weaver, Jay Weaver, Jeremy Redmon, Joe Shirk and Brian Beihl.
During that first run of shows with the group, West said he shadowed Fogarty to see what his job entails.
He then moved to Sweet Springs, Missouri, where Fogarty runs a discipleship school, Ekklesia.
“It’s a summer intensive program where we spend about 10 weeks each summer and really just dive into the Bible, dive into community engagement, learning to serve our community and learning to live with other people,” West said.
Red Letter Management is a branch off of that ministry, so throughout the year, employees are out on the road touring with different artists.
West wound up with Big Daddy Weave, starting as a merchandise manager for the opening artist on the tour. Then he moved into a video technician position, where he hung the LED wall every day and ran lyrics and videos during the show.
Then for about a year and a half, he was a lighting technician. He helped put the lights up and position them, and if the lighting director couldn’t be there, he ran the lights during the show.
For the last half of 2018, he also shadowed Fogarty with the plan to become the band’s next tour manager since Fogarty was transitioning out.
West assumed that role Jan. 1.
“I’m the funnel that everything for the tour goes through,” he said. “I’m the bridge between the venue and the artists.”
He contacts the venue or promoter to get all of the details of the day, including asking about showers at the venue, the WiFi network password, catering for meals and volunteers or stagehands to help unload and load gear.
West also is responsible for ensuring nearly 30 people, including the band members and their families, the crew and drivers, have what they need and know where they are going when they arrive at a show.
“I handle all of the logistics, and then I also handle all of our travel, so I’ll route out our route from Nashville to whatever city we’re going to and decide if it makes sense to fly or to take a bus,” West said.
His first gig as tour manager was when Big Daddy Weave was a part of the K-LOVE cruise in January. Since then, they have toured along the East Coast and various places from as far south as Florida to as far north as Wisconsin.
The attendance at those shows has ranged from around 600 to nearly 20,000.
Later this year, they will tour the West Coast.
“There’s a pretty good chance that we’ll hit all 48 continental states this year,” West said.
Finding the desires in his heart
Coming from a small town like Crothersville, West said everything he has accomplished and experienced has exceeded his expectations.
He said the Bible verse Psalm 37:4 comes to mind when he thinks about where he’s at: “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
“As young guys, as young friends and brothers in The Lasting Hope, our ultimate goal was to commit ourselves to the Lord, and anything that we were going to do musically, we wanted it to be glorifying to him and honor him,” West said.
“I think the more that I have journeyed the last couple years, the desires in my heart are actually turning into the desires of the Lord’s heart,” he said. “I believe he actually changes what you maybe want to do personally or selfishly at one point. He can actually change that for his desires, for his glory, for his good.”
West said that has been a big turning point.
“What I get to do is awesome and fun, and it’s a fun job. Most days, it doesn’t even feel like work,” he said. “I enjoy getting out of my bunk, getting off the bus and going into a local venue or church and getting to hang out with new people each day and people who are excited to have us in and just get to hang out with them for the day, and then we get to be a part of putting on this big concert in the city.”
Oakes said people can do way more than they could ever imagine if their heart is in the right place and they have the desire to do it, and West is a true testament to that.
“I’ve just always wanted to go explore and see what’s out there, and so I just worked toward that,” West said.
Networking helped him get to where he is today, and he is thankful he made the most of the opportunity to interact with the band’s crew during his first semester in college.
“They were more than happy to tell me more about what they do and teach me things that night and connect me with people who could put me on a path if I was truly interested, which I was,” West said. “At least I can speak for the Christian music market, if you’re wanting to do it, then just go make yourself available to do it, and if an opportunity comes up, then really consider taking it.”