LD Systems adds Texan touch to Watson tour
Wednesday, 11 December 2019
aw-beaumontAaron Watson’s Red Bandana Tour continues through 2020 (photo: Brooke Fatigante)
USA - When Texas country artist Aaron Watson was planning the fall leg of his current Red Bandana Tour, the decision was to go native with Houston-based production company LD Systems.
It was a “natural” decision and an “easy choice,” says lighting designer Anthony McCoy, who recently worked with the company with Watson’s shows at the Houston and San Antonio Rodeos, plus a few festivals.
In business since 1975, LD Systems specialises in turning a sketch or key concept into a workable, real-world solution - be it for festivals, corporate events or concert tours. So when operations manager Bill Bowers saw a sketch of Aaron Watson’s design concept, he says, “We knew we had our work cut out for us.”
Production manager Jared Miller created the design framework using the band’s Red Bandana album artwork for inspiration. “Jared’s idea was to have the truss justify the red diamond-shape of the red bandana on the album cover by rocking the truss at 45 degrees,” McCoy says. “Having this diamond as a template was a great way for us to explore a new shape-driven design.”
Multiple aspects had to be taken into consideration, Bowers explains. “The original design was built out of 20.5-inch truss, which wasn’t going to fit. It also needed to be light enough to ride on load bars in the trailer. It had to be able to house all the fixtures while in transport. Plus, it it needed to be modular and adaptable to different stage sizes and trim heights. And it had to be assembled with three people or less.”
Bowers continues, “As it was a ground-supported structure, we didn’t need anything as robust as medium duty truss, so we decided to build something from nothing. Using quarter-inch steel and aluminium, we fabricated the first of the four pieces that make up the entire structure. Then we added design aspects to it. We built channels on the front of the piece to hold the (Chauvet) Epix strips and fabricated custom brackets to hold them. And rather than drilling out the holes on the back section, we drilled out holes along the length of the entire piece so it resembled a rifle muzzle.”
As the lighting designer, director, programmer and operator on the tour, McCoy wanted a wide array of fixtures for flexibility in the rig. He ended up switching from his original specs to lighter-weight LEDs to fit into the truss and the one trailer.
McCoy and Bowers spent time with a dozen or so fixtures, evaluating which could stand up to the strain of being on tour three to four nights a week for the next eighteen months. “We chose the Robe Spikie, Robe Pointe, GLP Impression X4, Chauvet EPIX Strips and Chauvet Strike-1 LED blinders. All of these have proven themselves road worthy,” Bowers says.
“It’s been great to work with Rob McKinley, owner and general manager of LD Systems, during the design process,” McCoy notes. “Rob and his team have been so hands-on and thorough in this design, and it’s made for a smooth tour. They thought through every little detail, from transport to setup. Bill Bowers takes care of our needs while out on the road; he has been very attentive and involved when anything pops up.”
Aaron Watson’s Red Bandana Tour continues across the U.S. with dates set to May 2020.
(Jim Evans)

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