Getting Personal: Peter Blackmon

The News-Gazette's Melissa Merli chats with Peter Angelo Blackmon, 41, of Danville, the general manager of the David S. Palmer Arena and the co-owner of SCP Records.

What time do you typically get up? What do you do the first hour of the morning?

I actually either never go to bed or wake up anytime between 6 and 7 a.m. I immediately check messages and loaf.

What do you consider your greatest achievement or accomplishment?

There are a number of projects that I am proud to be a part of or have been a part of, but I have to say that leading the creation and development of the First Gig Rock and Roll Camp for Kids is my greatest accomplishment to date.

With the help of Danville Area Community College, we've developed a summer camp solely focused on giving kids the rock and roll experience. We've changed lives in two short years and are preparing to take the camp on the road to other communities in year three; all for the love of music.

What do you regard as your most treasured possession?

In 1991, my best friend's little sis made me a beaded necklace; nothing fancy. I never really took it off. I guess I just never thought about it; lazy I suppose. In 2006, my best friend died of cancer. Now I wear it in memory of him. Unless it needs repaired, I never remove it.

Do you have a "guilty pleasure," and what is it?

I'm going to have to say fruity drinks. If I'm on vacation, especially the beach, it's pina coladas and umbrella drinks all the way.

What book are you reading now? What is your favorite book ever?

I am currently reading "This Most Amazing" by a high school classmate, Jenny Benjamin.

As an English literature major at the University of Illinois, I find it hard to pick a favorite. "Sula" by Toni Morrison comes to mind. It's just so full of emotion.

Where on Earth are you dying to go? Why?

Ireland. Growing up with so many proud Irish in Chicago I just have it in my head that I have to see it. I just seem to wax poetic about it to myself.

Tell me about your favorite pet.

Kendall was a beagle. In college, a fraternity brother bought her to impress his girlfriend. The girl dumped him, and he dumped the puppy. I took over and raised Kendall the last two years at the UI and brought her home with me to my parents in Chicago. She was a pain. I miss her. We all do.

What's your favorite sports team?

Chicago all the way: White Sox, Bulls, Hawks. But if I have to pick one, the Chicago Bears. Sweetness.

What would you order for your last meal?

When I was 13, I found out I was allergic to shrimp. I would order a shrimp cocktail from St. Elmo's.

If you could be reincarnated after you die, what would you like to come back as?

It sounds silly but, in hopes that I could witness the future as it unfolds, I would like to come back as a tree. Hoping not to end up as copier paper.

Who are your favorite musicians, and why?

This question will keep me up at night. I will forever be changing this answer in my head.

The songwriters: Van Morrison, Steve Goodman, John Prine, John Hiatt, Steve Earle and Lucinda Williams. They aren't the greatest singers. Most of their music is covered by others, in fact. But when they play, when they sing, it's real. It's raw emotion and honest.

I was introduced to Jimmy Davis a while back through some friends. He's another one.

The Band (Rick Danko, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel and Robbie Robertson) forever defined music for me. Frank Orall & Poi Dog Pondering is a close second. Those two bands are the reason I don't just go to concerts to listen. I go to watch musicians perform every beat.

Locally, the music of Champaign-Urbana in the 1990s helped define my appreciation for music and my aspiration to work in the field. Today the music of C-U and Danville keep that fire burning. There are too many to list because I love them all.

What's the happiest memory of your life?

The birth of my daughter, "Sweet" Caroline Rose. I cry just thinking about that perfect day when she arrived. Every day after that has been a tie.

If you could host a dinner party with any three living people in the world, whom would you invite? What would you serve?

Mel Brooks, Steve Martin and Bill Murray: I love to laugh but those three are more than comedians. I feel like they would laugh at my jokes out of courtesy but it'd probably be funnier when they didn't.

We'd eat sandwiches.

Which historical figure do you admire the most and why?

Please don't make me pick. I don't think I can name ONE. The history of the world is overflowing with people whose legacies stand as a challenge to all of us to be better people. Jefferson, Lincoln, Edison, Gandhi, Churchill, Martin Luther King ... Zappa.

What personality trait do you most hate in other people? Most hate in yourself?

Hypocrisy. Hey, we're all flawed. I can live with that. It's the people who somehow don't acknowledge that fact and hold others to a standard to which they don't hold themselves that drive me crazy.

I compare myself to other people. I hate it. It's stupid to measure one's own success against others', and so ... I'm stupid sometimes.

What's your best piece of advice?

Be nice. (It works.)

What was your first job, and how much did you make an hour?

Produce clerk, Butera Foods, Frankfort. I think I made $3.50-ish an hour.

What was a pivotal decision in your career, and how did you arrive at that decision?

I graduated from Illinois and was living in Chicago. I missed my girlfriend. She had transferred back to the UI. I decided to come back to this area to be near her. I accepted the position of executive director for Downtown Danville Inc. She lives in Atlanta now with her husband and two kids. I'm still here. "Thanksgiving for every wrong move."

Do you have any regrets in your life? What are they?

I have TONS of tiny little regrets but not one worth printing. I wouldn't change a thing. I'm here. I'm happy.

How do you handle a stressful situation?

I try not to let myself get stressed. That being said, I take blood pressure medicine. When all else fails, gin. Gin works.

 

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