Blueberry Buckle, Red Willow, Aaron Baron, Wakefield. Regional agents would’ve loved to have had just one of these bands. Chris Buren booked and/or managed all four and, in the process, brought the Full Tilt brand to the forefront of the regional music scene. First, it was Full Tilt Productions in 1975, then Full Tilt Concerts and Full Tilt Music, and finally Full Tilt Management, the longest-running talent agency in the Upper Midwest.
With the FTM roster of artists, Chris raised the bar in performance sales, marketing and management. He was a pioneer in performer branding by using cutting-edge graphics, which created a national look and feel for band logos, posters, press materials, album covers and the FTM logo. Chris got musicians to understand the difference between just being in a band and being in the business of music.
Chris was introduced to the performance industry by Ken Mills and viewed Jimmy Thomas as a mentor. After moving on from Blueberry Buckle in 1974, he worked with Dave Hoffman of Winston-Kieffer and then Gordy Singer and Rod Essig at Variety Artists. Over his career, Chris worked with, for and around other music business insiders such as Jim McCarthy, Tony Ratchford, Larry Johnson, Randy Levi, Dale Gage, Wally Saukerson, Craig Turbak, Turk Krause, Dana Dedrick, Paul Zimmerman, Mike Plummer, Dale Swier, John Buren, Phil Potter, Garret Hanson, Tom Tatman, Brian Knaff, Doug Brown, John Crosno, James Jacobson and Mark Weinand, FTM’s current owner.
Many fans don’t know these names, but they’re the people behind the scenes, desks and phones that make the shows go on. As Chris would remind his bands, “Nothing happens ‘til the gig is booked. Until then, you’re just a garage band playing for your mom’s bridge club.”
If you were in an area rock band between 1975 and 1995, there’s a good chance you rolled through one of the FTM offices at some point. If you played country, you probably did, too. If you were a duo, a comedian, a sound company, a roadie or sound man, FTM often handled your weekend or full-time road schedule.
The acts that FTM booked, managed and worked with are a Who’s Who of the region’s rock and roll history: The Trippers, Rushmore, Blueberry Buckle, Sara Harp, Red Willow Band, R&B Supply, Starchild, Crank, Clown, FRB, Lazy Day Band, Aaron Baron, Wakefield, Footloose, Street Legal, Ivory Star, The Jacks, On the Fritz, Innuendo, St. Germain, Chris Gage, Hank Harris, Myron Lee, The Rude Awakening, G.Wiz, and hundreds more.