At the height of their fame, something about No Doubt really struck a chord with Wolf Trap’s Sara Beesley. Beesley found herself engaged by many female-fronted bands, but there was something about the ska influence and lead singer Gwen Stefani’s charisma that captured the high school student.
“I went to all the shows in the North East. As soon as I had my license I drove my friends and myself around to all the shows. I probably went to 30 or so within a six year period,” Beesley told Amplify. “My bedroom was decorated from every corner with magazine clippings. Now I deal with all these fan clubs on the venue side and I used to be those people in the meet and greet line.”
Her love of music was a sign of things to come. Straight out of college, the Boston native landed a job at the 200-cap Joe’s Pub in New York city.
“During my freshman year (at Manhattanville College) I went to see a cocktail pop group called the Lascivious Biddies at Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater and knew immediately when I sat down that that’s where I needed to be,” Beesley said. “I started interning in their office and stage managing shows my senior year, and when they offered me a job before my last semester I dropped unnecessary classes, cancelled my senior recital in classical guitar and moved to Brooklyn.”
Beesley explained that booking for a club in New York encouraged her to expand her music knowledge in order to satisfy a diverse culture in the city. Her wide range of knowledge is how she jumped from booking the local pub to the 7,000-capacity Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna, Virginia.
“Even though it was a big jump in terms of venue, the background I had in the genre of programming translated really well to the Wolf Trap mission and what we do as an overall performing arts venue,” Beesley said.
Wolf Trap is best known for its summer festival of performances at the architecturally stunning Filene Center – a distinctive outdoor venue at the country’s only National Park for the Performing Arts, located just outside of Washington, D.C. As a non-profit organization, Wolf Trap Foundation is the official partner to the National Park Service. The Wolf Trap land was previously owned by Catherine Filene Shouse, who donated 100 acres of her farm to the U.S. government to protect the land from encroaching roads and suburbs, as well as to create a place where the arts could be enjoyed in harmony with nature.
“I’m such a music fan and when I am trying to book shows at Wolf Trap it is because I really love the artist,” Beesley said. “Some times it is easy to lose that with what we do.”
Amplify caught up with Beesley, who books the Filene Center and the 382-cap Barns venue as the Vice President, Program & Production at Wolf Trap, to find out about five of her favorite shows.
Amy Winehouse at Joe’s Pub in New York
Jan. 16, 2007
The level of anticipation for and momentum leading up to Amy Winehouse’s U.S. debut at Joe’s Pub was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. She did two shows that night, but as the stage manager I had to talk her out of the dressing room after the first show and reiterate how much excitement and love was in the room so she would do the next one. The performances were truly incredible and there was a real sense that everyone there was seeing something super special.
The Who at Great Woods in Mansfield, Massachusetts
July 31, 1997
I was a big classic rock kid and went through a massive phase listening to The Who and watching Tommy pretty much on repeat all through middle school. This was not only my first amphitheater show, but my first time seeing total rock stars at that level — it left a huge impact on me. I had to write a report for a 7th grade music class, so I did it about that concert and about The Who. I found the report recently which has a bunch of WordArt from old computers and the ticket stub. It was the backstory of The Who before Wikipedia was around.
Wilco, The Flaming Lips, & Sleater-Kinney at Madison Square Garden in New York
Dec. 31, 2004
Whoever put together this show is a genius as it was a perfect combination of what I was listening to in college and probably the only event to this date that would get me into a big crowd of people on New Year’s Eve. At the time, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots by the Flaming Lips and One Beat by Sleater-Kinney were all in very heavy dorm room rotation, and it’s artist grouping like these that makes for super memorable concerts!
Prince at Warner Theater in Washington, D.C.
June 14, 2015
The first time I tried to see Prince was when his backing band New Power Generation did a run of late-night shows at City Winery in NYC. While New Power Generation were great, unfortunately Prince did not get out of his car which was sitting outside the venue, so I did whatever I could to get into his last-minute Hit and Run show at The Warner in DC. He started out the show by asking the crowd if we were okay hearing a lot of hits, and we sure were. The show was just magic and I’m pretty sure I raptured during “U Got the Look.” The next morning I found out that Stevie Wonder came out for the second show, which is how I learned the lesson to always go to the late set.
Bruce Springsteen at New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
May 3, 2014
I was a casual Bruce listener up until I saw him and the E Street Band at my annual pilgrimage to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. I know this is not news, but it was truly like watching a master in the field of rock and every emerging artist should watch his show and take notes. Since then “Thunder Road” as consistently been my most listened to song every year, and I’ll be getting married to my Bruce-loving fiancé in Asbury Park, New Jersey this May.