Charlie Schilling starts every day with a French-press coffee and a simple goal: to move through tasks efficiently through the day. Sure, efficiency has its own benefits throughout the work day, but the mindset stemmed from an ulterior motive.

“Back in the day, my friend and co-worker, Jared Smith (now with Ticketmaster) and I would try to be so efficient that we could end our work day at 5pm and make our 4pm t-time for golf,” he told Amplify. “Yes, this was a benefit to living on the Georgia – Alabama border. But, the goal was to work ahead to prepare to deal with whatever opportunity or challenge was presented to you. I’m still doing that each day.”


The Director of Booking at SMG Lincoln and Assistant GM at Pinnacle Bank Arena is always on the lookout for those opportunities and challenges. During Charlie’s first job in the industry, working the A&W Root Beer Stand at the Iowa State Fair and National Balloon Classic, he describes building up his skills by doing a little bit of everything.

“I tell students interested in Sports & Entertainment to be prepared to start anywhere and get as much experience as you can while learning real skills that can create leverage,” Charlie said. “I helped with logistics and operations (moving and setting up the stands), product development (add water to root beer mix) and then cash management and customer service (selling the product with a smile).”

This foundation was a strong base to Charlie’s current work ethic and led up to a big milestone: opening Pinnacle Bank Arena in 2013. Now a seasoned entertainment industry vet of 28 years (or 196 dog years as he says) and an Amplify’s 16 to Watch in 2016 honoree, Charlie is finding new challenges to work through at Pinnacle every day and describes the industry as “still ripe for change.” Currently, he is working on the 10-show fifth anniversary of the Pinewood Bowl Concert Series (also booked by SMG Lincoln) and is projecting a great Fall season at Pinnacle.

“We are booking and scheduling further and further out and it makes for benefits and challenges,” Charlie said. “We expect the Fall to develop as a high traffic season for on-sales. Pinnacle Bank Arena and Pinewood Bowl have sold over $32 million in concert tickets in the last five years.”

Not only are things looking good for booking, Charlie just joined a band as a drummer. 

charlie schilling

That’s Charlie (second from the right) with his band White Catfish. Read more from him by checking out his five favorite shows of all time below. 

Robert Plant at Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Des Moines, Iowa

It was my first gig as an “intern” and I came into the business during the early rock days when smoking in the 14,000 capacity room was legal. Literally, Plant blew the roof off the joint (Good choice of words).

Frank Sinantra at The MARK in Moline, Illinois

This was Frank Sinatra’s last tour and he had some health challenges earlier in the tour, but he was in the moment and he had two that I recall: 1. Someone put water and not-Scotch on stage and he literally spit it out and demanded his drink; 2. In a very secure area, I heard metal crashing and walked out of backstage catering to see Frank shadow boxing (yet lightly hitting) the warmers in the hallway. I peered and retreated and he never saw me but what I saw was priceless.

Beastie Boys at The E Center in Salt Lake City

Sold out 12,000 plus. In the round. Festival seating on the floor. The house lights come down and Rush’s ‘Tom Sawyer’ riff sends the crowd into a frenzy as the Beastie Boys begin the most energetic set I have ever experienced.

Michael Bublé at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska

Opening a new arena is always special and intense. But, to hear Michael Bublé at the first-ever sound check, say that the arena had the “best” acoustics and then do his show where he cuts off the power and sings A Capella was a special night.

Paul Simon at Pinewood Bowl in Lincoln, Nebraska

The concert felt like you were listening to a CD in the warmth of your living room. And, he made the old songs new and the new songs felt like your new best friend. How did Paul Simon and his nine talented musicians on stage with him do that?