Ellen Kingston probably has the coolest job in Hamilton County. As the artist concierge at the Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts, Kingston takes care of the performers who come to perform in the renowned music hall. Since the Palladium opened last year, Kingston has met Tony Bennett, Wynonna Judd, Cheyenne Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Martin Short, Take 6, Michael McDonald and a host of other artists. Kingston says she wants artists visit to the Palladium to be memorable. I want to make sure they remember the beautiful concert hall, the people and the whole experience. While meeting and greeting some of the worlds most-renowned performers might sound ideal, it's actually a lot of work. Her days can easily run 16 to 18 hours, with duties like:
- Arranging for travel, ground transportation and catering.
- Greeting performers when they arrive at the Center for the Performing Arts.
- Securing items requested on a performers contract (more on this later).
- Giving performers their final good luck before they appear on stage and their first good job, when they walk off the stage.
So what do performers ask for? Kingston won't dish about many of the visiting performers' requests. She did mention that seasoned performers make fewer demands that younger artists. For example, she remembers Tony Bennett requested water. No special, high-end water just water. She also remembers arranging to have a country music stars washer and dryer brought into the Center so she could feel at home and do her own laundry. She rented bikes for families so they can ride on the Monon Trail, and she made sure Vince Gill and his crew visited Bubs Burgers & Ice Cream. Ironically, Kingston does not get to see the performances, but she hears them as she completes additional work backstage. Some of her favorite performances this year include Tony Bennett, Michael Feinstein, Sandi Patty, David Hyde Pierce, Debby Boone and the Indigo Girls. She said Glen Campbells performance this year was poignant. She said she suspected something was going on with him but he had not yet revealed he had been diagnosed with Alzheimers. Kingston is perfectly suited for the job. She is a performer herself, having toured nationally with the musical Menopause. In addition, she has done voice over work for more than 35 years, and she was Sandi Patty's personal assistant. For 15 years, she also worked with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Yuletide Celebration and Pops Series. Because of her extensive experience in performing arts, she says she hasn't been star struck by any particular performer. She doesn't ask for pictures or autographs. Still, she admits that if James Taylor comes to the Palladium that may change. Do you have a cool job in Hamilton County? Tell us about it.