By Mia Rupani, Point Park News Service:
Ed Traversari’s passion for music began in high school when he was a drummer in a local band. Working towards a degree in business at Robert Morris University, Traversari was the president of the Student Activities Committee, where he was in charge of planning concerts held at the university. Traversari later became a concert promoter for 33 years for DiCesare-Engler Productions, which later became Live Nation, the largest producer of live entertainment events in the United States.
Traversari, 62, now works as an associate professor in the Sports, Arts and Entertainment Management (SAEM) program at Point Park University. Traversari sat down to talk with us about his greatest accomplishments, and some of the people he’s met along the way.
Q: You went to school at Point Park, didn’t you?
A: I got my master’s degree there. When I came here to teach, I had to get my Master’s in Business Administration (M.B.A). I took an accelerated program that they offered. The SAEM program here is only 12 or 13 years old and so is the M.B.A. program.
Q: What are a few of the past jobs you’ve held?
A: It’s all related to music. I was with DiCesare-Engler all my life. I became a partner with them back in the ’80s. I was a production runner at first and moved up to a talent buyer. I was also a marketing director for 15 years, and eventually I became a general manager of an amphitheater we ran over in Station Square. It was only eight or nine years ago that I heard about the SAEM program at Point Park. I started out part-time and eventually became full-time, and helped to further develop the entertainment part of the program here.
Q: Do you currently work any jobs besides teaching?
A: I have my own private company called Traversari Productions, which is a freelance, subcontracting business where I do events. I buy marketing for people who want to hire me. I also manage bands and I book bands. For example, Seven Springs Resort came to me because they wanted to do a rib festival. I booked the bands and the ribbers to make the food and I put on a three-day event. I work with a bunch of people. I like doing it because I can sometimes get my students involved in working for the businesses that I’m working with.
Q: Have you met any interesting people through your work?
A: Definitely. Bob Marley was very interesting. He did his last concert with us in the Stanley Theatre, which is now the Benedum. I’ve also met John Mayer, Paul McCartney, Aerosmith and Bruce Springsteen to name a few. As a promoter, there’s a good chance you’ll meet these people. When you book a band, it doesn’t mean you will always interact with them. You deal with their road managers and production managers. But, in many cases, we were providing plaques for the bands that would sell out, so that’s when we could meet and talk with them. When you’re having dinner backstage and Mick Jagger is eating next to you, that’s a pretty big deal. I’ve also met a lot of people who have unfortunately passed on like Robin Williams, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Frank Zappa.
Q: What is your best accomplishment?
A: Doing all the things I had to do as a promoter was fun, but coming here and being able to teach students is a big accomplishment for me. I never, ever planned on being a teacher. I just love giving back. As far as an event, one of things I most appreciate was being responsible for putting on a show in 2010 that celebrated Bob Marley’s last performance at our venue: 30 years to the day of that show, I was able to do research and get most of his kids and his wife together to put on a show at the Benedum that celebrated his life. We sold out and it was so exciting for me because I got to piece it all together. His wife came from Africa and all of his kids but Ziggy were there. Most of the money went to a charity of their choice.
Q: What do you think your favorite part of the entertainment industry is?
A: Definitely seeing the concert come to fruition. If it’s really successful, the night of the show you see that and it’s exciting. You think, “Hey, I’m not the entertainer but I helped bring this show to life.” That’s my favorite part.