You all knew Peter Banta’s work. You may not have known him personally, but you all benefited from him.
Peter was Bruce’s tour manager since 2000. He also worked with Warren Hayne, Mickey Hart, Phil Lesh and Friends, Foo Fighters, Govt Mule and Chessboxer. If you went to a concert, Peter gave everyone a great time. He made sure that the band were happy, and that you were too. Peter ran the show.
This past May 3, Peter passed away unexpectedly on vacation. I wanted to take a moment to remember him and recognise the central point that he played in the music.
Peter was a very proactively kind man. On several occasions when following the band, I was on the receiving end of Peter’s generosity. Two examples stand out to me:
At the Wolf Trap in Vienna, VA in 2004, I got brave and rigged up a video camera. Bruce had given permission, but evidently that hadn’t got as far as the venue staff. My camera was taken from me mid show, and I was told they’d destroy the footage I’d taken. Two songs later the same attendant returned to me, camera in hand and a drink, with one question. “Are you Si Twining?”. He granted me full permission to continue. I was baffled at how this could have possibly unfolded, and why anyone would know my name, much less perform a complete about-turn and grant me free run of the venue. On heading backstage after the show, I was passed by Peter Banta, who flashed a sly grin, nodded to my camera and winked. Peter had sent them back out and told them I could do as I pleased.
A couple of years later in Lowell, MA, I caught a hard time from the locals, who had reserved their spaces at an outdoor general admission venue by placing blankets in the early morning. They loudly and rather obnoxiously sent my party of five packing for attempting to find our own space before the show. Loud enough to catch Peter’s attention, who was watching from the stage. Peter waved me over, and within minutes he’d relocated us to the side of the stage, where we had the best seats in the house and interacted with the band throughout the show.
I was able to see Peter in Durham, NC last month, immediately before my wedding. He wished me all the best for the future, and I did the same for him. I’m sad that I won’t get another hug from him and I’ll miss him on the road. But I am surely grateful that I knew him.