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5 questions with Barney Byard

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013, at 7:07 a.m.

Barney Byard has a lot of change in his life just now.

In addition to returning as theater director at the Orpehum Theatre, where he worked from 2000 to 2003, Byard gave up smoking in July. He said it’s a good thing because he’s having to hold his breath a lot lately while under water – if only figuratively.

Byard said he doesn’t want anyone to think that he’s whining, but, “There is just so much to do right now.”

The Orpheum has a new partnership with SMG to bring in shows.

“The biggest problem we have … is one of the biggest problems that any venue would have,” Byard said. “That is making sure you are bringing shows in on a cost-effective basis that the city of Wichita will respond to. It sounds pretty simple when you state it like that, but it’s not without its challenges.”

In between previously working for the Orpheum and then Century II, Byard had his own promotions company.

“There’s something inherently stressful about having every penny you make be the direct result of having a much larger stack of pennies at risk.”

There were many times along the way he tried to give up smoking.

“I’d start to gain a little weight, and my vanity would kick in,” Byard said. “Well, that’s it. I’ll just go buy a carton of Camels. Noble experiment failed.”

Q. 1 Do we have too many venues in town and not enough audiences to support them?

A. I really don’t think so. Each of the venues … have their own niche … and serve their constituents well. Each venue in town has its own personality and it’s own appeal.

Q. 2 What’s the Orpheum’s personality?

A. Historical. Potentially quirky in a good way. And diverse in its programming.

Q. 3 You love music, but does the job of promoting it chip away at your enjoyment of it?

A. Not really. About the time I start to feel my age and somewhat cynical about the process, I’ll see a live show. That is just so invigorating that it reminds me why I wanted to do this.

Q. 4 What is your dream act?

A. My dream act is for Nickel Creek to reunite and come back here. … I brought them here as an independent promoter a while back. … It was one of the coolest shows I did. … For their encore, they unplugged their instruments, stood at the edge … of the apron and played … completely unplugged and unamplified. … It was totally mesmerizing.

Q. 5 What’s one thing few people know about you?

A. Agh. I get so much grief about this. For the last several years, I have enjoyed watching “What Not To Wear” with my wife, Linda. … I have certain friends who will give me no end of grief over that admission.

Reach Carrie Rengers at 316-268-6340 or crengers@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @CarrieRengers.

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