As a teenager in Cranford, N.J., Kathy Hartford would often sit in her room and play her flute along with the music of Jethro Tull, a legendary band whose leader, Ian Anderson, was the first to incorporate a flute in rock music.
The last thing Hartford ever expected—then and now — was to one day play on the same stage as Anderson and sit backstage with him. But that's exactly what happened.
When Jethro Tull played the Charles Ives Center in downtown Danbury, Conn., last summer, Hartford and her rock band, XRC (short for “extreme rock classics”), were the opening act before an estimated crowd of 6,000.
“It was amazing,” says Hartford, a Prudential Securities rep whose band includes two of her clients. “Ian Anderson had a tremendous influence on me when I was young. So to get a chance to play on the same stage as him was a dream to me.”
When Hartford first heard that Jethro Tull was scheduled to play the Ives Center, she thought to herself, “Wouldn't it be great to open for them.” So Hartford sent in a demo tape to the center's marketing department and — bingo — XRC got the gig.
Before the show, Hartford didn't talk to Anderson. She was a bit nervous. “And he kept to himself, to garner up his energy for the show,” she says. But after the show, Anderson was looser, so Hartford found the right moment and introduced herself.
“He said he saw me playing the flute on stage and that he liked my style,” Hartford says. “I was thrilled. I told him he was the one musician who had the most impact on me.”
Hartford, a million-dollar producer, put her band together five years ago. “I had just gotten a divorce, and I was looking for something to keep me busy,” she says. “I've always loved music, and it was something I felt I could put a lot of energy in.”
Hartford plays rhythm guitar and sings in addition to playing the flute. Her clients are Dan McMillan, the lead guitarist, and Lorraine Conrad, who sings and plays keyboards and violin. The band, which also includes bassist Mark Iannucci and drummer Franz Kastner, plays songs from bands such as the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Neil Young and Crazy Horse.
In their everyday jobs, McMillan and Kastner work together for the post office, Conrad runs her own hair salon and Iannucci is a high school English teacher.
“We have a blast playing together,” Hartford says. “It's also a great outlet for me. It gives me a chance to develop my creativity, which spills over into my work. I tend to be more creative in coming up with different ideas and suggestions for clients.”
The band has also changed the way Hartford interacts with clients. “When you're in a band, it forces you to listen to the other instruments,” she says. “To me, the most important thing about being a musician is listening. I also think the most important thing about being a broker is listening.”
Focusing more on what her clients say has made quite a difference. “My business has really taken off,” she says. “I've gone from $500,000 a few years ago to $800,000 in 1999 to $1 million in 2000. And I expect to make another production jump this year.”
Ideas for broker profiles can be faxed to Rick Weinberg at 949/851-1636 or e-mailed to [email protected].