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JimOnLight.com Hangs with Jefferson Waful of Umphrey’s McGee at House of Blues in Dallas

I had the absolute pleasure this last week to hang out with Jefferson Waful, lighting designer for Umphrey’s McGee, at Dallas’ House of Blues  establishment downtown.  It was great to see Jefferson again – he and I spent some quality time together at SeaChanger‘s booth at the National Association of Broadcasters conference in Las Vegas back in April, and we waxed philosophical about lighting, music, and all things design for the camera.  Videos coming soon of that, just for your information!

The day at House of Blues was great – I’m a master electrician whenever I’m not being lighting designer/writer/nerd-rockstar guy, and the UM crew was down a man, so I helped Jefferson with the load-in.  First – the House of Blues crew is superb.  Within the first five minutes in the venue, I discovered a friendly, helpful crew that all seemed to enjoy what they did, and the house’s L1, Boombah, was just an amazing guy to crack cheap jokes with and keep the energy in the room pumped high.  Fun was had by all.

A little bit about the Umphrey’s McGee crew – four guys, every one with a department head job.  Jefferson Waful in the lighting department (and lighting designer); Kevin Browning, the Sound Caresser (that’s FOH Engineer for you non-hackers); Bob Ston, Monitor Engineer and EPG (Extremely Professional Guy); Robbie Williams, Stage Manager; and Don Richards, Tour Manager and General Cool Dude.  A great crew, most of whom have been with the band for quite some time – Bob was telling me he’s been on with UM for nine years.  NINE YEARS!  When he says that he stays at the same emotional intensity level all day and doesn’t get angry, he’s totally telling the truth.

Load-in was quick and simple – Jefferson does six Mac III’s on cases on the deck, six Mac III’s from a rear truss, A7 LED heads on a FOH truss, and some Mac 700s to compliment the rig.  Some ACLs and specials from the house rig, and we’re off!  Mac IIIs have some punch, my friends.  That’s all I’ll say about that.  I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Finishing up lighting load-in:

Updating focus positions:

More focus position updates:

It was outstanding to hang out with Jefferson during his programming time – I’m not quite yet a grandMA programmer, and Jefferson uses a full-size grandMA (I’m a Hog programmer).  After watching him work the grandMA, I think I need to get my rear in gear and learn this system.

Soundcheck was – well, it was amazing.  Not only do I enjoy the band, but watching Jefferson run some looks was impressive.  I’m a big fan of watching other lighting designers work – as a lighting designer myself, I’m never really conscious of the world around me when I’m driving a lighting desk, and it’s nice to know that others are so focused on the work themselves.  Check out a few of these Soundcheck looks:

The show was equally as amazing.  Here’s a few shots of the actual show, and below that I have added a gallery of ALL of the shots I wanted to post.  Click on the thumbnails, they open a gallery view.  Enjoy!

The anticipation of the first note and the first light cue:

The first cue of the show:

with Brock Butler sitting in:

The driver driving

Thanks to Jefferson Waful and the entire Umphrey’s McGee organization for allowing me the opportunity to spread the word of great music and outstanding design!  Let’s do it again!

2 replies
  1. Benjamin Slayter
    Benjamin Slayter says:

    Great article. You tell a great story about the people who make these shows the spectacular things that they are, down to the local crews. Pretty sure that we should be going to Mayan Holidaze, just to see what the lighting looks like in another country?

  2. Davecarter_99
    Davecarter_99 says:

    I’m glad you give so many props to Waful.  He’s amazing at what he does.  Not only in the programming and the tricks he pulls out but how he is as tight as UM’s drummer Kris Meyers.  I’ve been a big fan of the band since 01 and adding Jefferson on lights took their stage show to a whole new level.  Thanks for covering him and their production setup.  I’d love to see more of their rig during setup, focusing, etc.  Great story!
    Dave

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