It took three weeks for WME to decide that Tom Windish was “not William Morris material.” He had spent those few weeks sorting mail, getting coffee and absorbing tricks of the trade from notable industry figures like Jonny Podell, Cara Lewis, Steve Martin, Jonathan Levine, Mike Donovan, and Peter Schwartz. Windish was not deterred. The next week he signed a band and began booking on his own under the name Bug Booking.
“I called my first agency Bug Booking because I had to bug people so much to book the bands,” Windish told Amplify. “I was living above this legendary rock club in Chicago called Lounge Ax. It was a great place and I would do stuff there like clean up the bar and work the door.”
Windish has always taken that scrappy approach to getting things done. Even in his younger years, with a mother who was a piano teacher and had records constantly rotating, Windish was determined to find ways to keep the music coming.
“When I was in high school, I had a lawn mowing business. I mowed a lot of lawns and I listened to my cassette Walkman while I was doing that,” Windish said.
At the age of 15, Windish was mowing 50 lawns a week and employed three people, including one who had to drive him around since he didn’t have a license.
“I got through a lot of tapes,” Windish added. “I listened to U2’s “Joshua Tree” album 15 times in a week and then I’d go buy another tape with the money I made mowing lawns. I built up quite a record collection at the time.”
Now as a Senior Executive at Paradigm Talent Agency, Windish’s passion for the industry has not fizzled out in any way.
“When it comes to music, I am all in. I love live music. I love music,” he said. “I love that I am in a position where I can help artists and I love other people that share the same feelings. I have a group of friends all over the world who love hearing about new bands that make amazing music and those people help them too.”
Amplify caught up with Windish to find out about five shows that had an impact on his love of music.
Huey Lewis & The News at Saratoga Performing Arts Center in New York
July 21, 1985
This was my first show. My dad brought me solo. I remember seeing friends from school who were not with their parents and they avoided me. It was the Sports tour. I smelled marijuana for the first time, I remember asking my Dad what “that smell was” and he told me to keep walking. To come full circle, it turns out, Dan Weiner, my recent business partner, booked this show.
U2 at Syracuse Carrier Dome in New York
Oct. 9, 1987
I mowed a neighbor’s lawn and he was the program director of radio station called PYX106 in Albany, New York. He got me great seats to the show, something like 10th row, in the stadium. My dad drove my friends and I to Syracuse and we slept on the floor of my grandmother’s apartment. I was really short as a kid and I stood on the back of the folding chair for the entire show. At the end the people behind me asked me to get down so they could see and I felt awful. I was blown away by the band.
Camper Van Beethoven at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York
My friends and I were obsessed with Camper Van Beethoven in high school. “Pictures of Matchstick Men” was their big song. We would dance to their album at my friend’s house. The is the first time I danced liked crazy at a concert. There are so many shows that have left a huge mark on me. With this list, I started early and focused on artists I don’t actually work with, almost all from before I was an agent.
The Feelies at State University of New York, Binghamton
The Feelies are one of my favorite bands of all time. This was the first show I was involved in producing while I was at college. After doing college radio at WHRW SUNY Binghamton, my college friend Jason Koffman taught me how to book bands for the radio station. He walked me through the Pollstar agency directory, called agents with me, taught me about the school’s bureaucracy for cutting checks and signing contracts. That’s what started it all. I ended up booking around 50 bands at Binghamton. I felt like I was walking on air from the moment the crowd filled in the room. We brought birthday cake out onstage for the bass player during the set.
The Jesus Lizard at Vic Theater, Chicago
April 13, 1996
The Jesus Lizard’s 500th show! What an incredible band. I was fortunate to be able to see them up close a bunch of times while I worked at Billions. David Yow wrestled me to the ground during the set at this home town concert. It was an incredible night.