A Roadie Business: Teaching Bus Drivers to the Stars A Nashville school trains people to get behind the wheel and shuttle rock entertainers to their next gig.
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Michael Brame's wife calls him "the most undependable husband in the world." He'll agree to a day of errands, then his phone will ring. Two hours later he's at the airport, off to fill in as a "relief driver" for Salt-N-Pepa or Tim McGraw's crew.
A former mobile DJ, Brame (who is known as Michael B) graduated as part of last year's inaugural class at Nashville's Celebrity Bus Drivers Academy, launching him on a second career driving tour buses for the rich and famous. Students who successfully complete the program at this one-of-a-kind school get assistance nabbing temporary assignments.
Veteran tour driver Chip Huffman, one of the academy's founders, started the school in 2009 with partner Tandy Rice. In the old days, Huffman says, a band member would just pack up his fiddle after a gig and get behind the wheel. But in 1995, the U.S. Department of Transportation required entertainers to hire professionally trained drivers and limited the amount of time drivers can spend behind the wheel. Huffman and Rice gassed up their plan to fill what they knew would be a growing need for qualified drivers.