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Major Airports Incorporate Local Talent Through Live Performances and “Music at the Gates”

International Airports showcase community musicians through arts programs

BUFFALO, N.Y. (June 29, 2008) – Frequent flyers aren’t just arriving at airports and catching a glimpse of regional sights anymore. These days, some lucky travelers find themselves serenaded by local musicians. In addition to pausing for a bite to eat, airline passengers can now stop for a song or two before takeoff.

Nashville International Airport is one such airport that has long included music within its corridors by scattering local bands and artists at arrival gates, baggage carousels and bars. Through a partnership between Nashville’s Arts at the Airport program and Delaware North Companies, local musicians can showcase everything from blues to swing to orchestral arrangements on three designated stages.

Recently, the music became a little louder when the airport opened two Tootsies bars, a branch of the original Nashville classic Tootsies Orchid Lounge. The legendary music hall, home to the likes of Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline, offers customers the opportunity to snack and enjoy sounds of local country-western driven live bands throughout the day. The free performances at Nashville have been so well received by travelers that an additional music stage is scheduled to open in 2009.

"We have live music five days a week on our stage at Tootsies and it is amazing to see how often customers get up from the bar and get onstage to perform," said Tom Gallo, general manager of Delaware North Travel Hospitality at Nashville International Airport. "Tootsies is the iconic Nashville Honky Tonk that brings a strong sense of place to the airport. We work exclusively with the owners of the original Tootsies to book local musicians. This way, the musical experience you will have at the airport will be the same as you would have downtown."

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport also invites passengers to catch a few minutes of music before boarding or upon return home. With stages located in three bars and one record store, live performances are offered on a daily basis to ticketed travelers inside the concourse. In 1999, when the live music program originated, there was only one performance a week in one location. Nearly a decade later, the number of performances has more than tripled. Each band set lasts approximately one or two hours, and are made possible by the Department of Aviation and Delaware North Companies.

"Austin-Bergstrom International Airport was the pioneer in airport live music performances," Terry Mahlum, general manager of Delaware North Travel Hospitality at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. "Right now, we provide eleven live music performances in four different locations each week throughout the airport, all of which are conducted by local musicians, and we’ve had a great response. As soon as the band starts to play, the lounges and bars fill up. Many travelers now book their flights around the performances."

As a leader in travel and hospitality, Delaware North Companies strives to connect travelers to the flavor of the cities it operates in by incorporating local businesses into individual locations. Through its Gateway Concept, which integrates local brands and concepts into national sites, Delaware North has long championed the integration of regional food establishments within its airports. With the introduction of "Music at the Gates," the company re-emphasizes its commitment to the community by bringing local music into the concourse as well.

"We hire local Austin musicians and those who have had a tie to the city," said Nancy Coplin, music coordinator of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. "I get inquires from all over the country about playing here, especially before the South By Southwest (SXSW) Music and Media Conference, where we have our own sanctioned showcases. Every band and solo artist is paid and can sell CD’s and receive tips at their gigs. The travelers love it because it’s relaxing, it gives them a taste of Austin and it breaks up the monotony of waiting for their planes."