“Just call me Tiny; that’s how everyone knows me.”
And so begins an interview with one of MusicFest’s bigwigs – the biggest of the MusicFest wigs.
Tiny is head of security for Vancouver Island MusicFest. It makes sense. No one in their right mind would want to cross him. At 6’5 and many, many pounds, Tiny is an imposing figure, and exactly what any music festival would look for, when searching for the model security lead: daunting, yet personable.
“He’s the nicest guy you’ll meet,” is how most people describe Tiny. But don’t cross him. He doesn’t have to say it: You won’t like him when he’s mad.
Tiny has been an integral piece of the MusicFest team since 2001.
He said that it wasn’t always the mellow, family-oriented atmosphere it is today.
“We had a couple of rough years when I first started. It was a lot of work for us and our production team to get it to the point where we could manage it ourselves. We used to have a lot of paid security and a lot of RCMP involvement. But after a lot of years of frustration and pulling our hair out, we got it down to a very workable, mellow festival. But we had a couple of very challenging years, where… the RCMP weren’t really happy with us.”
So what changed?
“Fences,” he said with a laugh. “Just building better fences and building boundaries that patrons could understand, and go by. We needed to set the rules and we needed to enforce them. It took a few years.
“But we have it working well now. We used to have eight or 10 RCMP on site at all times. Now we are down to two – and they usually go home early.”
The irony is that Tiny’s first experience at MusicFest was of the unpaid variety: He snuck in.
“I just didn’t want to pay, so I went down with my wife. She was volunteering but I didn’t want to volunteer, so I said I’d just sneak in. She said I couldn’t, but I did. Wouldn’t you know it, I ended up volunteering anyway, and the next year they asked me back, as a roadie working on stage. Eventually I took on security and here it is, 12, 13 years later and I’m still here. Sometimes I joke that I’m still paying for sneaking in the first year.”
Tiny says it’s not all roses and peaches though. There are still the assaults, the underage drinking, the attempted illegal entries happening. But he says the big difference now is that the security works with the festival attendees, to ensure a good time is had by all.
“I love my returning patrons – especially the ones that camp. I have built a relationship with so many of them over the years. I give them my cell phone number and if they see any kids trying to climb the fence, or any other problems, they call me and I deal with it. It’s like having hundreds of extra sets of eyes and ears watching out for us, to make this an enjoyable weekend for everyone.”