Organic rig designed for Dallas Smith dates
Monday, 15 August 2022
dallassmithA total of seven different acts have supported Dallas Smith on his 24-show, five-week tour (photo: BF Media)
Canada - The lighting rig that George Gorton designed for Dallas Smith’s Somethings Never Change tour took on a life of its own over the course of the early summer, seeming to expand, contract and morph in new directions with every show.
After a 19-month pandemic-caused hiatus, the Juno Award winning multi-platinum country star (12 of his songs have reach the top of the charts in Canada), took off to play some live music on 24 May, and invited some friends to join him. A total of seven different acts have supported Smith on his 24-show, five-week tour. This diversity made it essential that Gorton devise a rig with an organic-like quality to grow and change.
“There was a constant dialogue with the band,” recalled Gorton. “We had multiple guests joining Dallas, so we were constantly building and updating the show as the tour progressed and got new songs in the mix. The musical direction was flawless and extremely helpful for me to continue to grow the show design. It was rewarding to make improvements each night.
“Gordon Huxter, who was the programmer on the show, was a master at adapting. I was also very fortunate to work with Andrew Dawson, the LD for James Barker Band, the supporting band, as well as the entire team Kevin Mosdell, Andrew Balzer, and Laura Smith.”
Through all the changes though, the distinctive architecture of light that Gorton created over the stage remained the defining feature of the show’s personality. Configuring truss in a series of geometric patterns that reached their apex over the centre-stage area, his design commanded attention without distracting from the performers, while also providing structural support for an array of captivating looks.
“Structure is a huge part of my work as a designer,” said Gorton, the owner of Loud Entertainment Design Group. “I think it's crucial to create depth and unique spaces that help you build the show in different directions. Relying on the angles of the trusses to create dramatic looks was crucial.”
Key to making Gorton’s geometric concept come alive, were 24 Chauvet Professional STRIKE Saber fixtures supplied by Premier Global Production of Nashville. Arranged in triangular rows that became wider as they went higher, the powerful pixel mappable warm white linear units filled a variety of roles in the tour design, serving as washes, strobes, chase effects, and audience lights. Accenting the contours of Gorton’s structure, they gave the stage a dramatic, exciting look that he was able to change on a dime simply by creating different chase patterns or on-off sequences.
“I had used the STRIKE Saber product on a number of other designs and I was curious about creating a large enough canvas of them to frame this structural element of the rig,” said Gorton. “These fixtures were the cornerstone of the design. They were crucial to virtually every song; and they played a really important role in connecting the crowd to the artist during interactive moments, as well as creating movement across the whole rig.
“The strong presence of warm incandescent-looking whites from the STRIKE Sabers also influenced my colour palette,” continued Gorton. “I tried to stick with very specific palette combinations in each song as opposed to having dramatic color changes often. I felt this made the show look dramatic, clean and allowed the structure of the rig to shine.”
In addition to the linear STRIKE Saber fixtures, the STRIKE 1 warm white pod contributed to setting a variety of moods during the show. Gorton had 11 of these fixtures in his rig, relying on them for crowd and back lighting. During the encore when Dallas Smith stands on the tallest riser, Gorton backlit him with one of the pods, elevating the star’s presence. In so doing, he created an evocative aura that celebrated not only the achievements of his client, but the return of live music to Canada as well.

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