To say that Eric Blockie had a lot of experience before becoming general manager of Hartman Arena last year is wildly understating what he’s been up to for the past few decades. The San Francisco Bay area native first started volunteering for big rock concerts when he was 17. “After a couple of years, I started getting paid for them,” Blockie said. He’s been tour manager for Huey Lewis & the News. He worked security for Pearl Jam and the Grateful Dead. He’s managed facilities across the country, most recently for Live Nation in St. Louis. Wink Hartman’s Park City arena attracted him because he gets to do it all, from booking acts to developing events.
1. So back in your days of working security at shows, you weren’t exactly the burliest bouncer, were you?
“I always had to think my way out of a situation as opposed to muscle my way out of them. I think that’s why people liked me.
“I also had my share of scuffles . . . but most of the time I just tried to think my way out of situations because I’m not that big.”
2. What is it that you like so much about the business?
“What I kind of live by is I’m in the business of turning people on.
“To me, it’s almost like giving birth. You think about this thing, and you don’t know if you can make it through all the motions.æ.æ.æ. But when all the stars align and you develop a show, and it’s received by the public well, and you look in the crowd and everybody’s got a smile on their faceæ.æ.æ. to me it’s a very rewarding experience.”
3. How much are you in competition with Intrust Bank Arena?
“I would have never gotten Elton John. I never would have gotten Bon Jovi. The arena isn’t big enough.
“If you develop a local music scene, then everybody gets exposed and nobody has to drive to Oklahoma City or Kansas City to see these acts.
“The Intrust is a positive thing for everybody, so we don’t look at it as competition at all.”
4. What’s your favorite show of all time?
“I saw Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra in concert together in what was one of the last Rat Pack tours. And I was a guy who listened to Metallica.
“I was stunned by how professional they were and how good the show was. Even to this day. That was 25 years ago.
“It taught me how to be a professional in the music business. I’ve seen the best in people, and I’ve seen the worst in people.”
5. You credit the late national promoter Bill Graham for your career, right?
“If it was not for Bill Graham I would be an auto mechanic now.
“That guy gave me a break many times over and taught me how to be a professional.
“And Wink Hartman’s pretty good, too. I haven’t met anyone as eccentric and thoughtful in a long time.”