The band had heard the horror stories. Uncooperative, jaded stage hands. Unresponsive audiences. The separation from the crowd and the sterile environment.
But thanks to a little help from its fans, Red Wanting Blue's national television debut last week on ''Late Show with David Letterman'' couldn't have gone better, according to lead singer Scott Terry.
However, getting to that point involved a couple of busy and mostly sleepless days, Terry said during a telephone interview from Columbus.
To avoid the traffic tie ups around the Ed Sullivan Theater on Broadway, Red Wanting Blue had to load its gear in at 3:45 a.m., and no one got much sleep before that.
''We couldn't sleep,'' he said. ''You've been waiting for this for the last few months and, more importantly, you've been waiting your whole life to be on national television.''
Getting there that early and setting up gave the band a chance to run through the song a couple times and do a full soundcheck before leaving around 8 a.m.
The crew couldn't have been nicer, he said, and the band even got to decorate the set with the Lite-Brite and some of the bobbleheads and other tchotchkes that adorn the stage at the band's live shows.
''They went the distance for a band making its television debut and without a lot of clout,'' Terry said. ''It was really great of them. I'll gladly tell anyone the experience with their staff was nothing short of awesome.''
The show, which airs at 11:35 p.m. on CBS, is taped earlier in the day, and RWB appeared on the first of two shows that were taped that day. If the band was worried about nerves getting to them, it subsided once they saw the crowd.
''It's a 500-seat theater, you don't know who's going to get tickets, but it felt like the entire balcony was Red Wanting Blue fans and there were people I knew scattered throughout the crowd on the floor,'' Terry said. ''That person is from Pittsburgh. That person is from Chicago. A friend from Korea was there. My parents were there. It was like we were playing for the people who come to see us at Cedar's, who come to see us at Musica. And it showed in the performance ... For a minute it felt like one of our shows. I could look out and see people singing the words back to me.''
Letterman's staff noticed it as well. The crowd let out a cheer as the host was introducing the band, and Terry said they were told that never happens unless its someone like U2, a group that's so hugely famous that the audience just can't contain itself.
RWB - Terry, Mark McCullough, Greg Rahm, Eric Hall and Dean Anshutz - performed ''Audition,'' which the group rerecorded for its latest album, ''From the Vanishing Point,'' but it is one of the oldest songs the group still plays. The video of the Letterman performance can be found on its website, www.redwantingblue.com
The band had drinks with management, record label executives and close friends after the taping before heading to Brooklyn, where Terry's longtime girlfriend (Liberty native Jenna Pace) had rented out a theater room in a local bar for the band and friends to watch the broadcast.
''By the end, I was so tired I was delusional,'' Terry said. ''I just wanted to watch it, so I could say, 'OK , I want to go to bed now.'''
Terry isn't sure what impact the band's national television debut will have on its career. But the group got some encouraging words from Gary Dell'Abate, producer of Howard Stern's radio show. The day before the Letterman taping, the band members visited the studio where Stern does his satellite broadcast, and Dell'Abate gave them a tour. When he heard they were going on Letterman, he talked about how when he was doing publicity for his autobiography, he didn't think any of the television shows would be interested in booking him. But once he got on Letterman, the other shows started calling.
''He said if you can get Letterman, the others fall in your favor.''
The band's next area show is an Aug. 17 concert at Musica in Akron.
Andy Gray is the entertainment writer for the Tribune Chronicle. Write to him at grayareas@ tribtoday.com