World - Queen + Adam Lambert will complete their current year-long, 78-show world tour in July, which has seen them play sell-out shows in North America, Oceania, and over Europe. The tour provider is Clair Global, and at the heart of all things audio, is a pair of DiGiCo consoles.
FOH engineer Tom New moved into live sound when a former bandmate began promoting live shows at a small venue in Brighton asked him to help out with the sound.
“With limited knowledge, and a healthy enthusiasm, I threw myself into it, and didn’t look back,” says Tom. “Nowadays, I try to view things holistically: a show is about combining all the elements of a production, in much the same way you combine the elements of a mix, so when everything comes together in the manner that this has, it’s a huge feeling of job satisfaction.”
Tom has been with the band for nearly four years, and feels the current production is one of the finest he's ever seen.
“Adam's vocal range is nothing short of incredible; he throws himself into the role every night, and his performance is extremely consistent. Like many in his position, he is sensitive when it comes to his monitor sound, and that’s something that we all work together on – FOH, band, and monitor engineer - so that he feels comfortable.
“As you might expect, the band have a keen interest in how things sound, particularly where it involves effects or sound cues. There is always the question of whether or not to try to mimic the original recordings, or to allow the song to be 'live', and its genera
UK - Ghost Notes, a new bar and music venue in the heart of South East London’s Peckham, hosts an array of music each week, ranging from live bands and DJs, through to spoken word and speeches.
To cope with this diverse array of events and the building’s challenging acoustics, SSE Audio has installed an L‑Acoustics X Series system, providing Ghost Notes with a high-quality solution that also delivers on brand recognition, thus meeting the demands of visiting artists and engineers.
Ghost Notes, which shares its space with sister business vegetarian and vegan restaurant Wildflowers, is located within the Peckham Levels, a thriving multiuse business space with a host of facilities for local creatives and professionals. The Levels is a converted multi-storey carpark and the venue is situated within a wide, low-ceilinged, concrete room.
“Providing a system that can deliver a high-quality audio reproduction across a wide range of events can be challenging in itself,” says L‑Acoustics application engineer Jeff Woodford, who worked with SSE on the project. “But the width of the room, the low ceiling height, and all round highly reflective surfaces posed an additional challenge for the audio design.”
SSE Audio opted for an FOH system that comprises a pair of L‑Acoustics X12, chosen for their short throw and ellipsoid directivity to minimise reflections, with the venue financing the new installation using SSE Audio’s Contract Rental model, rather than an outright purchase. This has a number of advantages for Ghost Notes, including
USA - Leading AV industry manufacturers, L-Acoustics, d&b audiotechnik, Meyer Sound, Biamp, AudioScience, Avid and Luminex have joined together to create a new network solution that “will reshape the AV networking industry and future of high-performance professional media”.
All will be revealed during a presentation and live demonstration during InfoComm 2018 next week.
The solution is a result of over 18 months of close collaboration among industry leaders under the umbrella of Avnu Alliance.
USA - The brainchild of The Who’s guitarist and primary songwriter, Pete Townshend, Tommy – a rock opera that tells the story of a deaf, dumb and blind boy who achieves a personal breakthrough when he becomes an expert pinball player – was first performed on stage in 1969.
Featuring some of Townshend’s best-loved songs, including Pinball Wizard and See Me, Feel Me, Tommy has enjoyed remarkable creative longevity as a staple of The Who’s live repertoire, as well as multiple theatrical and touring productions and a celebrated film directed by Ken Russell.
For the musical component of the new production currently being staged at Colorado’s Denver Centre, director Sam Buntrock and sound designer Ken Travis had several motivating ideas in mind. “This is not to criticise some of the more recent stage productions, but we wanted to get away from a synth/keyboard-heavy sound and get back to guitars – in effect, ‘to put The Who back on stage’,” says Travis. “We wanted an energy and a rawness that audiences would closely associate with The Who.”
To deliver this all-encompassing sonic vision Travis was certain “from day one” that he wanted to incorporate immersive audio with localised sound effects into his sound design. He had experimented with several immersive systems on previous projects, but it was his experience as an audience member of The Band’s Visit – David Yazbek’s acclaimed new musical that opened on Broadway in November 2017, which makes extensive use of the Astro Spatial Audio
France - Every year, the future graduates of the French school of architecture of Tournai organise the JNDA (Journée et Nuit de l’Architecture), an event that gathers over 4,000 visitors. A disused industrial site is specially transformed to host conferences as well as artistic and cultural performances. At dusk, the venue becomes a concert hall with three stages, where renowned and emerging bands entertain the crowds until late.
For this 34th edition, the event took up residence in the former 7,000sq.m Louis Carton industrial workshop. In order to cater for an eclectic crowd, three stages - each dedicated to specific music genres - were set up in the three workshop warehouses: EDM, Urban and Alternative.
For the technical side, the organisers trusted YES Event to manage the audio set up of all three stages. The event service provider turned to French manufacturer of professional loudspeakers APG to offer the best possible experience to a 4,000+ crowd: "Choosing the Uniline Compact was a no brainer for us, as we were looking for a discreet but powerful sound system to fit the raw environment of this old industrial workshop” commented Frédéric Van Durmen, CEO of YES Event. "Thanks to its compact size and excellent modularity, the Uniline was the perfect fit for both the venue and the eclectic line-up."
The main stage for the event was dedicated to EDM. YES Event deployed a full Uniline Compact sound system made of 12x UC206N rigged loudspeakers coupled with four UC206W for the front-fill. Completing the set up were six UC115B dedicated bass sp
UK - Taking in selected venues, Tokio Myers, who stunned the judges to claim victory on Britain's Got Talent has been showcasing his genre straddling fusion of classical and contemporary musical experiences on stages across the UK.
Collaborating closely with Vision Factory show designer, Sam Tozer, the VER London operation has supported the tour with a comprehensive video, projection and lighting package that helped realise the designer’s creative vision for the shows. Set against a 9 x 4m upstage LED wall, the show blends live performance with filmed footage, cutting edge graphics and intense colour that silhouettes the artist at work.
Speaking about the show’s visual elements, Sam says: “Tokio Myers Our Generation tour design revolved around the basic idea of cinematography and immersing Tokio in a halo like parallel cube of light. I found using VER high definition video screen brought out the rich textures and colours of the content and allowed myself to create stark silhouette moments throughout the performance. Alongside we toured five projectors used as a light source casting beams and saturating the stage with abstract imagery.”
The lighting design that accompanies the show has been carefully crafted to complement both the visual and musical impact of each performance, helping bring an additional dimension to the production.
Sam continues, “Above and around the stage was a collection of Solaris Flares, GLP x4 Bar 20’s and Viper Performance’s that sat in harmony with the video elements.”
USA - Ultra Music Festival, turned 20 this year and the occasion was marked, in part, by big beam lighting effects from an array of Elation Professional IP65-rated Proteus Beam moving heads that lined the top of the festival’s Main Stage.
Production and lighting design for the Main Stage was by The Activity, their ninth year of involvement with the festival. The Las Vegas-based production and design firm, headed by lighting veteran Patrick Dierson, wanted to do something special for the festival’s 20th year and chose the Proteus Beam for a prominent look
“Because this was Ultra’s platinum anniversary we wanted an element within the design that would specifically represent its 20 years of celebration and the Platinum Beam’s bigger brother, the Proteus, seemed like the perfect choice,” stated Dierson, who served as lighting and production designer on this year’s Main Stage. The Activity worked directly with Ultra’s creative director Richard Milstein, as well as AG Production Services who supplied all of the lighting and video elements for this year’s Ultra.
Dierson approached the project with a simple design aesthetic in mind for the Proteus lights but their role expanded as show time approached. “During performances they were to simply be 20 static beams reaching out over the downtown Miami skyline emanating from the structure and then produce sky tracking movements during the short set changes to maintain a level of visual excitement,” he said. “By the time we were in full show mode, many of the guest LDs started to incorpo
USA - Originally established in 1853, Levi Strauss & Co. is one of the world’s largest apparel companies with 500 stores worldwide, and products available in over 100 countries.
At their flagship retail location on Market and 4th Street in San Francisco, the Levi’s brand managers wanted to heighten the consumer engagement for the 8000sq.ft retail space located one of the world’s most highly visited shopping areas. With two large windows looking out onto the busy street, Levi’s worked with their long-time digital partner Reflect, who installed two FLEXClear transparent LED video displays from PixelFLEX.
“Levi’s has been a client of ours for many years dating back to about 2013,” began Brandie Perkins, senior account manager, Reflect. “As a forerunner in the jean industry, they haven’t always played a lot in the digital space, but for their San Francisco Market Street location, they really wanted to make a statement and connect with their customers. Having seen the possibilities of a transparent LED video display at a tradeshow, they asked us if we could implement the technology into their retail design, so we reached out to PixelFLEX about the FLEXClear LED video.”
Perkins continued, “They wanted to install a big experience and attract consumer attention without impeding the natural light that comes into the store. With the way the store is physically laid out, the natural light is essential to the space, so they loved the idea of being able to put in a transparent LED display. This way they could still get light into the
UK - Cardiff-based events services provider 11th Hour has been appointed by Associated British Ports South Wales to supply a temporary passenger terminal in Cardiff Bay for the Marco Polo cruise ship.
The terminal comprises a 57m marquee fitted out with a bespoke interior, with the company also supplying several security elements, including bag-scanning and metal detection equipment.
Project manager Bruno Hunt is in charge of the technical aspects of the terminal, whilst business development manager Jason Venables oversees the customer-facing side of the operation.
The project overlaps with 11th Hour’s involvement in the Volvo Ocean Race, a round-the-world yacht race that arrived in Cardiff on 29 May, with the company supplying a range of facilities for the Race Village.
USA - After recently expanding its inventory with a large complement of Claypaky Scenius Unico and Mythos2 fixtures, Elite Multimedia Productions has provided a portion of that equipment to Cole Swindell’s nationwide Reason to Drink Tour.
The country singer-songwriter kicked off his headlining tour in Allentown, Pennsylvania in February and wrapped the first leg in LA in April. He resumed the tour a month later in Austin and will continue to play dates across the country through September. Nashville-based Elite Multimedia is the production provider for lighting, LED, video and IMAG video support.
Production designer James ‘Mo’ Butts deploys 16 Claypaky Scenius Unico and 24 Mythos2 fixtures for the tour. His design for the show, in which video plays a key role in the storytelling, depicts Swindell’s evolution as an artist from playing cover songs at a college bar to becoming a country superstar headlining arenas.
“The design really seemed to come together organically starting with a complete redesign of our previous rig to expand out to the 48-foot wide stages,” says Butts. “We then looked at what production elements had been most successful on our past tours and morphed [them] into a much larger stage design.”
The show features a 40x20-foot LED wall that displays one big look or as many as six different areas of content designed to give each song a different look and feel. IMAG from seven cameras is integrated into the content instead of occupying side screens.
The lighting rig is outfitted with many of Elite Mul
USA - Pomona College’s Seaver Theatre is tucked away near the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains outside LA. The school’s leafy campus is reminiscent of a New England Ivy League institution, with academic standards to match having been ranked among the top 10 colleges by Forbes and US News & World Report.
The college holds an attraction for visiting designers in the form of a lighting system that’s been enhanced with greater colour-mixing and zooming capabilities thanks to the addition of 60 COLORado 2-Quad Zoom Tour fixtures and 14 Ovation B-2805FC cyc lights from Chauvet Professional.
“Excitement and joy have been the main reactions to these lights by the designers who’ve used them,” said Janelle Asti, the master electrician and sound engineer of the school’s Department of Theatre and Dance. “The designers who have come in and used our new fixtures have been blown away. The zoom capabilities alone have been overwhelmingly impressive. The new fixtures have helped with load-ins too, since we no longer have to add a conventional par to the LED wash units.”
Pomona is utilising the COLORado fixtures at The Allen, its Black Box, as well as at its main Seaver Theatre stage. The Ovation units are being used in the main stage at Seaver Theatre only.
“We use the COLORados and the Ovations for every type of performance we have in our theatres, which includes straight plays, musicals and dance,” said Asti. “The COLORados work very well as stage wash pars, but we also use them to wash sets. The Ovations serve as cyc and g
UK - Star Events’ X Stage highlights the creativity at AEG Presents’ first All Points East festival in Victoria Park, where sets from LCD Soundsystem, The XX and Bjork drew sizeable audiences this Bank Holiday weekend.
Working with Loudsound and LarMac Live, including the main East Stage, a 20m VerTech, the North Stage, with its concentric arches, the West Arena and all the requisite support structures.
An ambitious in the round experience, with a hovering DJ platform, the X Stage “puts the finest electronic talent into the heart of the audience”.
Star Events’ design team joined two 5m wide/38m span arches at the apex to bring the X Stage to life, using kit from the yard together with ‘specials’ built for the project.
Alongside its considerable lighting capacity, each leg of the structure houses an inward facing speaker configuration, which delivers an immersive experience. audiStar Events supplied the festival’s four principal platforms.
Gavin Scott, Star Events’ project manager, comments: “With a lot of work behind the scenes, the X Stage came together brilliantly. There were significant structural challenges, everyone involved with the design played a part in bringing it to fruition, and it’s a great achievement.
“AEG Presents, Loudsound and LarMac Live have been a pleasure to work with. The vibe on site has been really good, a collective of people working to achieve something special, and safety levels have been noticeably high, which is great to see.”
Ian Greenway, director at LarMac Live,
Europe - Singer-songwriter Adel Tawil is again on tour in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Prior to the tour, he used a number of festival appearances to present his current album So Schön Anders before embarking on an extensive theatre tour that ended with three sold-out arena shows last autumn. These included all the essential production elements of his other shows.
The man responsible for the lighting design is Bertil Mark, who wanted to implement a symbiosis of clear spaces and chaos. Production rehearsals took place over three days at Black Box Music in Berlin, where most of the band now resides, and where the lighting designer now runs his own studio.
"Since the band is well-rehearsed, we were able to use the three days in the rehearsal studio almost exclusively for the design," reports Bertil Mark with satisfaction. "I had listened to the album in advance and wanted to try and implement my ideas and thoughts, using the nobility of Tawil’s songs to trigger these ideas." Together with the artist, a modern and intense lighting design evolved, which is both minimalist and elegant in creating moods and pictures.
As with many previous designs, Bertil Mark has drawn heavily on GLP's portfolio. Other than a few conventional fixtures, the rest of the design comprises 90 GLP X4 atoms, 170 GLP impression X4 Bars and additional 40 GLP JDC1 hybrid strobes.
Over the course of the evening, an imposing chandelier, made of 90 GLP X4 atoms, shines above the stage, which at first glance is spartan and without visible technology. The fragile co
UK - British rock band Marillion treated fans to a series of immersive shows in April, with theatrical-style lighting controlled using an Avolites Tiger Touch II with Titan interface.
The band worked with its long-serving lighting designer Yenz Nyholm on the light show, designed to synchronise with pinpoint accuracy to video content and on-stage action.
"Each song on this tour required lighting that would act as if it were a mini-play, reflecting the stark nature of the music and immersing the audience into the experience," says Nyholm. "The design was based on beautiful, symmetrical beams of light.
"Programming with Titan was a godsend - I used the Capture Atlas Suite, which integrates with Titan, allowing me to sync the lighting with the video and performance. Pre-programming using Capture meant that my position palettes were pretty much spot-on when I got to each venue."
Nyholm began working with Marillion way back in in 2002 as a lighting technician, before taking over the lighting design role in 2005. He has been using Avolites control for even longer, first learning his craft on a Pearl console back in 2001.
"Avolites' Titan just keeps getting better and better - the new screen design, and the ability to customise all the different views are really great," he says. "The new enhanced features are a lifesaver. The Set List function, where cue pages follow the show's running order, was essential at one gig when the band threw in a different song at the last minute! I was able to dial up what I needed in seconds."
UK - Restaurant Sophie’s Steakhouse and its companion speakeasy lounge bar Jack Solomon recently opened in Soho, with Nexo’s compact point-source ID Series loudspeakers installed in three areas of the venues.
System control was also provided by Nexo’s DTD digital controllers and powered by DTD amplifiers.
AV design company Diamond AV specified and installed the system, which extends across three levels, including the double-height main restaurant. More than 30x ID24i cabinets have been used, carrying the same look/feel throughout the different parts of the venue. The tiny yet versatile double 4” cabinets handle a background music programme in the restaurant, jazz and club tracks in the lounge, and guest DJ mixes in a small VIP salon.
Guy Ayres is the technical director of Diamond AV who was responsible for speccing and programming the system: he is pleased with the installation, which gives Sophie’s Steakhouse three high-spec flexible systems for an affordable price. “The secret is that the ID24 cabinets are 16 ohms, which is a godsend. Using these 16ohm units in conjunction with the new DTD1.3 amps allows me to get maximum use of the processing – the whole system runs on just three amplifiers.
“In the main restaurant areas, which have exposed pipework and lighting grids, we are effectively using the white ID24s as ceiling speakers where there is no ceiling! Even though they are positioned 3 metres above the restaurant floor, the dispersion is excellent and, because we can angle them, we can have more control.”
UK - Aurora Lighting Hire supported lighting director Gurdip Mahal on a major installation for Revolution, one of the largest entertainment sets on UK television.
SKY One took over the vast space at Cardington Studios for extreme sports show Revolution. Hosted by Jackass star Steve-O and Maya Jama, Revolution is an extravaganza of high speed action featuring BMX riders, skates and boarders going head to head across a spectacular custom designed course.
Working with award winning lighting director Gurdip Mahal for the eight-episode run, Aurora provided a vast array of lighting, control and rigging equipment to light up the large-scale production.
To achieve the intense colour applied throughout the show, a mix of over 200 Robe 1200, VariLite VL3500 and Martin Quantum Wash fixtures were installed to provide a highly controllable, vibrant, uniform wash across the cavernous interior. Almost 100 Clay Paky Sharpy fixtures, with their ultra-sharp beam abilities, were also included in the mix to accentuate the dynamic on track action.
Adding a neonesque touch to the impressive set, created by scenic designer Dominic Tolfts and art director Ben Telford, Aurora supplied over 500 Encapsulites, used extensively to accentuate the semi industrial look of the production. Finally, to maintain control over the vast installation, Aurora provided the crew with a pair of ETC Cobalt consoles plus two full size Hog’s.
Speaking about the show, Aurora project manager Ben Taylor says: “the space at Cardington is absolutely huge,
Portugal - 17 Robe RoboSpot Base Stations controlling tracking Robe BMFL fixtures provided a remote followspotting solution for production lighting designer Jerry Appelt at the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest.
The RoboSpot system was specified onto the show by Jerry and his gaffer Matthias Rau, and used extensively throughout the event’s final and two live semi-finals, which were beamed and streamed live via host broadcaster Rádio e Televisão de Portugal (RTP), reaching a final worldwide audience of around 200 million.
The RoboSpot system was supplied by main lighting contractor Flashlight from the Netherlands, who worked in conjunction with Pixelight from Portugal.
The RoboSpots, each with individual MotionCameras, were all from Robe’s powerful BMFL series of moving lights – a mix of BMFL Blades and BMFL WashBeams. Having these on the rig for key lighting and highlighting with their intensity and high CRI helped produce excellent results and perfect flesh tones.
They were positioned around a variety of overhead vantage points which meant Jerry was not restricted to using one set of follow spots in a specific location / direction to highlight every performer in every shot.
With songs from 43 countries to light individually and uniquely, this follow spotting system greatly increased the flexibility at his fingertips. He could mix and match the available follow spots to get this essential element precise and exactly to his liking and for what worked best on camera and onstage.
BMFL Blade luminaires were rigged to one of the fr
UK - Conor Cosimini, producer and studio co-owner got a call earlier last year asking him to join English singer/songwriter Dodie’s touring team as monitor engineer.
Catapulted into the role not long after graduating from London College of Music (LCM), Conor arrived loaded with zeal, ambition and an Audient iD14, all set for her You tour in October where the audio interface was invaluable in a live setup. “The iD14 has come on both tours - and every other show I've done since - and I couldn't be happier with it,” confirms Conor in the afterglow of Dodie’s most recent Spring Tour which ended in April.
Conor admits that he was already a fan of Audient. "I use iD22 in my writing and location recording rigs all the time," he says, making the decision the to choose iD14 for Dodie’s live setup even easier. "When I’m on the road, I like to have an interface with me for two reasons. As a FOH or monitor engineer I use SMAART for realtime analysis and tuning of the PA/wedges, so I always need a super-clean mic pre with high quality converters for this.
"I also like to have something for on the bus/in the van for listening to show records or working on other projects, and the ability for it to be bus powered is really important, as power isn’t always available. So naturally, coming from the iD22 the iD14 fits this bill perfectly."
Dodie herself has enjoyed a rapid rise from YouTube sensation to successful live performer. She posts both original and cover songs on her main YouTube channel, doddleoddle which has over 1.5m
USA - Country music singer, songwriter and rising star Kane Brown is on the road opening for Chris Young’s Losing Sleep tour, and lighting designer Andrew James wanted a practical and spectacular specials rig to give the young artist’s set full impact.
He turned to Robe moving lights - 18 x Pointes and five Spikies - supplied to the tour as a specials package by 4Wall Nashville.
James’ starting point for this design was that he and production manager Tyler Oplinger wanted something different for Kane’s set which needed to look fabulous and be set up onstage and de-rigged quickly and efficiently during the changeover.
He had already started to think along cart-based ideas for movability, and he also happened to have Atari’s Q*bert in his head! This inspired the basic shape of the set which he realized would also make a great base for lamp placement!
Q*bert is a 2D action arcade game with puzzle elements that uses stylised isometric graphics to create a pseudo-3D effect - dating back to 1982.
He also wanted a walkway allowing Kane to run around and the band to be higher off the deck. After a lot of revisions and refinement to the initial ideas, the current stage set design emerged, complete with white cubes, geometrically positioned lights and runways connecting the centre section with the two sides of the set. It was built by Nashville-based Accurate Staging.
Pointes have been one of Andrew’s favourite lights since the launch in 2013, so these were chosen as workhorse fixtures. “They’re super versatile with
UK - While the 2014 Disney film production of Into the Woods garnered huge amounts of attention, thanks in part to its all-star Hollywood cast including the likes of Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp, a recent UCL theatre production has succeeded in stripping down the Stephen Sondheim classic to its thematic core - exposing the eternal battle between darkness and light.
Instrumental in this exploration of desire, ambition and relationships through classic Brothers Grimm characters such as Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and Rapunzel was a combination of Chauvet Professional Maverick MK1 Spot and MK3 Wash fixtures, specified by LD Alex Forey.
With the general concept for the lighting based around the need to support the director’s post-apocalyptic vision, the cutting and powerful effects of the Maverick combination were called upon to create the atmospherics.
“As the set had a lot of exposed aluminium, sharp corners and barbed wire, I wanted to make sure the lighting never felt too ‘homely’,” comments Forey. “I was able to support this drastic visual collage with the cutting features of the Maverick fixtures - an absolute necessity to support the sinister elements of the play.”
The Maverick MK1 Spots were positioned from overhead stage trussing and were utilized for a variety of purposes, including punchy strobe-emulating effects and general set dressing.
“The iris, animation wheel and rotating gobo wheels came in really handy for a number of scenes,” continues Forey. “In fact, the Spot effects define a number o
Portugal - Lighting designer Jerry Appelt chose more than 700 Ayrton fixtures for his design at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Appelt chose not to incorporate a video element in the show, instead returning to a lighting-based design in which Ayrton fixtures were a key creative feature, adding depth, architecture and variety to the visuals.
“The exemplary cooperation with Ayrton was vital for the success of the show and the almost 800 fixtures from Ayrton gave Jerry an important addition to his toolbox, enabling him to create a magnificent, multi-layered design that was absolutely needed to master this beast without having LED screens or any other video canvas in our set up,” says ESC head of production, Ola Melzig. “And guess what, we did not miss video for a second of the whole eight hours of spectacular broadcasts we created in the wonderful city of Lisbon.”
With so many different performances in one night calling for a different look for each one, Appelt needed fixtures that would give him plenty of variety and choice, and the ability to mix it up for each number. He also needed fixtures that would deliver total reliability in the huge rig, and under live conditions with such a large global viewing numbers.
Appelt, who has lit the ESC extravaganza for three consecutive years, chose Ayrton because the entire product mix offered exactly what he needed for such an ambitious project: small, lightweight, powerful lights with a great optical efficiency and, moreover, absolute reliability. “This all matters not only for my creative
USA - Long considered one of the main acoustic music festivals in North America, Wilkesboro’s MerleFest recently celebrated its 31st annual event, which was held over four days in late April.
Featuring the best in country, bluegrass and Americana, this year’s festival hosted performances by the Steep Canyon Rangers and Friends with special guest Steve Martin, Buddy Miller and the North Mississippi All-stars, Kris Kristofferson, Jamey Johnson, The Mavericks, Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn, Rodney Crowell, Paul Thorn & Band, The Blind Boys of Alabama & The McCrary Sisters, and many more roots acts.
And as has been the case for a number of years, DiGiCo consoles mixed and processed nearly all of the music emanating from the festival’s stages, helping to cement MerleFest’s reputation as a highly celebrated perennial American music event.
MerleFest was founded in 1988 in memory of Eddy Merle Watson, son of bluegrass legend Doc Watson, as a fundraiser for Wilkes Community College and to celebrate “traditional plus” music, a term coined by Doc Watson to describe the wide variety of musical genres and styles celebrated at MerleFest.
Since the festival’s beginnings, Greensboro-based SE Systems has been handling the sound for MerleFest. SE Systems CEO and founder Cliff Miller was working with Doc Watson at the time and helped put the audio production in place for the first MerleFest in the John A. Walker Auditorium that sold out immediately and was quickly expanded to an additional location outdoors on flatbed trucks, which is now
USA - After 21 years in the dark, the classic Grain Belt Beer sign is once again brightening the Minneapolis skyline. Built in 1941, the 50x40ft landmark was the largest free-standing signage in the region, but since 1996 the old incandescent lamps have been dark. A recent renovation by S.M.L. Electrical, supported by JTH Lighting, features over 1,000 Intelligent Marquee Systems (IMS) RGBW LED lamps.
"Pat and Sean Lawrance of S.M.L. Electrical approached us to find a colour changing, power line control solution,” explains Mike Steskal of JTH Lighting. “They wanted to use existing wiring and S14-style lamps to maintain the sign’s historic look. The system also had to handle the harsh Minnesota cold, which was amply proven last New Year’s Eve when fired up with the thermometer at -8 °F."
"Located 100ft above a river, you don’t want to be replacing lamps," says Sean Lawrance of S.M.L. "They had to be weatherproof, shatterproof, and reliable, plus we wanted a system that was bright and easy to address. The IMS system succeeded on all counts. Having many lamp options proved to be a sizeable problem for us since the historical society and city council each had preferences. We agreed on RGBW for programming versatility and we couldn’t be happier."
Lawrance adds, "Using a couple IMS Hand Held Programmers, we opted for a simple programme, addressing each letter of ‘Grain Belt’ and a single address for ‘Beer’. Twelve IMS Mk2 Universe Drive IP65 models drive the marquee lamps. We’ve customised the colours for special occasions; for examp
USA - Matt Calabrese says he thrives on spontaneity. Good thing, too. As lighting designer for the increasingly popular and much travelled progressive funk jam band Kung Fu, his career has taken him on a wildly original, and thoroughly enjoyable, ride. Every show is a new adventure for the Connecticut-based LD, not just as a result of his client’s constantly changing set lists, but also because of the wide variety of venues where they perform.
“Designing for Kung Fu is a great experience, where things never repeat themselves,” said Calabrese, as he finished a gig with the band at the legendary Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY, where they opened for more. Helping him navigate his way through his long and winding tour schedule is his consistent and reliable ground package of Rogue R1 Spot and COLORdash Batten-Quad 12 fixtures from Chauvet Professional.
“The festivals and venues where Kung Fu plays vary greatly in terms of the size and shape of their stages, as well as the quality of their house rigs,” explains Calabrese. “I take each show as it comes and rely on my ground package to provide a solid foundation for the look I want to create.”
On the current Kung Fu tour, Calabrese is traveling with four Rogue R1 Spot and three COLORdash Batten-Quad 12 fixtures that he purchased from 4Wall Entertainment. This ground package fits in the trailer with the rest of the band’s gear, yet it provides the colour, movement and output Calabrese needs to create the looks he’s after.
“My ideal situation is to set the R1s on road cages a