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Umphrey’s McGee Covers “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” at The Aragon!

I just got an email from Jeff Waful, lighting designer for Umphrey’s McGee, about their recent show at the Aragon Ballroom on November 26.  The video I got was a cover of The Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want, and it’s awesome.  Jeff needs to get a buymper sticker that sways “I Am the Master of Pan and Tilt Patience.”

Check it out!

Thanks, Jeff!

The Actual Life of a Rockstar Lighting Designer

I’ve written about a friend of mine, a good writer and an even better lighting designer – Jeff Waful – a bunch on JimOnLight.com.  I’ve written about Jeff’s work with Umphrey’s McGee, I’ve written about Jeff’s television show, Jeff Waful +1, and I’ve written about just talking with Jeff about life, light, and design in general.  Jeff just had an amazing interview with a lighting designer that both Jeff and I think very highly of in general, Chris Kuroda.  You have to check it out.

What makes this interview different is that Jeff talks with Chris about life and light, but mostly about living on the road as a lighting designer.  This is an interview that Jeff should be very proud of, because I think he nailed it.

Read PART ONE of Jeff Waful’s interview with Phish lighting designer Chris Kuroda
Read PART TWO of Jeff Waful’s interview with Phish lighting designer Chris Kuroda 

PHISH at BLOSSOM – June 4, 2011

After a marathon week, I am back in the saddle at the Light Associated Media Headquarters in Oklahoma City!  A 15 hour drive from Columbus, OH to OKC happened a few days ago, and after sleeping off the remnants of that, I have my buddy Greg in town, hanging out and restoring some peace.  After the crazy schedule of working through the semester and trying to figure out how to do all that needs to be done, it’s time for a switching UP in gears.

You know how I spell relief after a hell schedule?  P-H-I-S-H.  Greg and I went to Blossom Music Center in Cleveland to see one of the shows on the summer tour – I had plans to interview Chris Kuroda again, but Phish’s media people never got back to me regarding the interview.  Sorry folks.  I know a lot of you had requested a second set of interviews with Chris, but I guess they’re too busy to accomodate me.  Regardless, the show was amazing, the band was fantastic, and the tour seems to be going very, very well.  Kuroda’s driving a pretty fun rig, and he seems to be having a lot of fun with it!

The rig, post show for detail:

aaaaaaaaaaand while being driven:

I’m not gonna run my mouth here much about the show, I think the few shots I got from my point-and-shoot (damned camera thieves) speak volumes.  There is some video coming, stay tuned!

A gallery view is below – click on a shot, and a gallery opens up!  Enjoy!  Also, did you go to the show? Drop a comment below, tell the world what you thought of the lighting!

 

Jeff Waful +1 is Now on Relix.com

This is a pretty awesome day for a good friend of mine – Jeff Waful, lighting designer for Umphrey’s McGee, just published the first episode part of his series, Jeff Waful +1, on Relix Magazine‘s website.  FINALLY we have a show about being on the road while ON the road!  Part one is live now on the Relix site, Part two is coming later today.

Check out the Jeff Waful +1 trailer:

I am so happy for you, Jeff!  Everybody, this is a pretty awesome series.  You MUST check it out if you have ever worked on the road!  Head on over to Relix Magazine right now to check out the series!  Great job, brother!

Jefferson Waful – Lighting Designer, Funny Man, and HEY THEY’RE PLAYING STEVE MILLER?!

A guy who I’ve gotten to know a bit and seen him work hands-on with the music – Jeff Waful.  You knows know Jeff as the lighting designer for Umphrey’s McGee, and he’s been tearing faces off with his light artistry for the last while now.  I just got a tip that Jeff did some work with Umphrey’s at the Warren Haynes Christmas Jam in Asheville, NC just a few nights ago – and there was of course a video camera.

Check out the results!  From the Umphrey’s McGee Production blog, The Floor:

Jefferson Waful of Umphrey’s McGee Directs “The Tabernacle”

So – not only is Jefferson Waful the outstanding lighting designer for the outstading band Umphrey’s McGee, he’s also a video director now.  Jefferson just posted up a series of videos about the Umphrey’s McGee show at The Tabernacle in Atlanta, Georgia.  Apparently this was a show to experience – and Jeff has brought it to us in the way that he knows – as an artist.

It’s three parts, and it’s quite amazing.  I’ve linked the three videos here, but you HAVE to check out the video posting page here.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

JimOnLight.com digs your artist brain, Jeff.  Great work.

Aron Altmark Lights Benny Benassi at FLUXX San Diego

Our precious little sugar britches, Hebrew Hammer, and young LD Aron Altmark just had a cool gig in San Diego at the FLUXX club.  Aron had the pleasure of lighting international DJ superstar Benny Benassi.  How’s that for a resume credit?

The FLUXX rig:

  • 26 Elation Design Spot 300B
  • 34 Elation Opti Tri Par RGB
  • 10 Martin Atomic Strobe
  • 2 High End Systems DL.3
  • 595 LED Strips (around 400 in the circular grid overhead, another 195 in the circles w/ frosted plexi behind the stage)

Aron had a few days of programming at the ACT Lighting Studios (where he’s an intern this summer) on a GrandMA Lite with Series 2 software.  Check out these great looks!  Also check out Aron’s Picasa album of the shots – there are some I left out, and he’s got lots of cool stuff there too.

Gallery image view – click on one to see them all!

We’re proud of you, big guy!

Tony Awards for Lighting Design in 2010 – Some Detail On the Designers

I have to admit that apparently since I didn’t watch the Tony Awards last night, I am apparently a bad theatre person.  Or so I’m told.  You see, I’m actually lighting a show and making a paycheck right now, so I didn’t have a chance to sit and watch the Tony Awards show.  Did you watch, or are you baaaad like me?

The big lighting design awards last night were Best Lighting Design for a Play, and Best Lighting Design for a Musical.  In the PLAY category, the Tony was awarded to Neil Austin for Red by John Logan; in the MUSICAL category, the Tony was awarded to Kevin Adams for American Idiot by Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day and Michael Mayer.

Best Lighting Design for a Play: Red (Golden Theatre) by John Logan, lighting design by Neil Austin

Neil Austin – the LD behind the show:

Production images of Red:

(All images from Johan Persson, from the Neil Austin website)

About Red (from the Tony Award website):

Master American expressionist Mark Rothko (Alfred Molina) has just landed the biggest commission in the history of modern art. But when his young assistant (Eddie Redmayne) gains the confidence to challenge him, Rothko faces the agonizing possibility that his crowning achievement could also become his undoing. John Logan’s play is a searing portrait of an artist’s ambition and vulnerability as he tries to create a definitive work for an extraordinary setting.

Producers: Arielle Tepper Madover, Stephanie P. McClelland, Matthew Byam Shaw, Neal Street, Fox Theatricals, Ruth Hendel/Barbara Whitman, Philip Hagemann/Murray Rosenthal, The Donmar Warehouse

The images from the show are amazing.  From a few people who emailed me today to tell me about the show, it was also apparently equally amazing, and Austin’s work is stellar.

Best Lighting Design for a Musical: American Idiot (Berkeley Rep) by Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer, Lighting Design by Kevin Adams

Kevin Adams, LD behind American Idiot:

Production images from American Idiot, from Kevin Adams’ website:

From the Tony Awards website about American Idiot:

American Idiot tells the exhilarating story of a new generation of young Americans as they struggle to find meaning in a post-9/11 world, in a journey borne along by songs of the band Green Day. The musical follows working-class characters from the suburbs to the city to the Middle East, as they seek redemption in a world filled with frustration. The cast of 19 is led by past Tony Award-winner John Gallagher, Jr.

Producers: Tom Hulce & Ira Pittelman, Ruth and Steven Hendel, Vivek J. Tiwary and Gary Kaplan, Aged in Wood and Burnt Umber, Scott Delman, Latitude Link, HOP Theatricals and Jeffrey Finn, Larry Welk, Bensinger Filerman and Moellenberg Taylor, Allan S. Gordon/Élan V. McAllister, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Awaken Entertainment, John Pinckard and John Domo

You’ve probably heard of Kevin Adams, if not Neil Austin too.  Kevin Adams got some press on JimOnLight.com last year for his design for Passing Strange (which has become one of my favorite designs ever).  I ran across an article in Live Design that asked Kevin five questions – this was my favorite two – students and people wanting to break into the lighting design industry, pay attention:

Live Design:  What is the best career advice you’ve ever been given?

Kevin Adams:  I was never really interested in a “career,” so I never really asked for career advice. I realized early on that employment as a freelancer was always going to be up and down, so I’ve tried to make every day less about working and more about making things that, at the end of the day, satisfy me. And if other people respond to the work I make, then great.

Live Design:  And what’s the worst?

Kevin Adams: Probably telling myself that a “career” doesn’t matter.

Amazing.  I hope this gives a little bit of insight into the Best Lighting Design category of the Tony Awards.  It is so important to me that people know more than just who won the award!

Green VS. Red Hot – The Question of Antique Filament Lamps

A New York Times article posted last week brought up an interesting topic – antique incandescent lamps, the old Edison style filaments, being used in restaurants and other places.  The article brought up some interesting points, and had lots of interesting comments from people like Noah Horowitz, Ken Friedman, and Charlie Palmer.  Check out this comment from Noah Horowitz, from the article:

“It boggles the mind that in these times of economic hardship and interest in environmental sustainability that restaurant owners would choose the light bulb that uses 5 to 10 times more power than the other bulbs on the market,” Noah Horowitz, a senior scientist at the environmental group, wrote in an e-mail message. “You can’t on the one hand brag how green you are by serving organic beer and locally grown produce while you are lighting your business with the least efficient light bulbs available in the world.”

You know the lamp they’re talking about?  The Edison filament?

I’m a huge supporter of energy advocacy.  HUGE.  I love LEDs, period.  I do hate CFLs, mostly because they look like total crap and are filled with Mercury.  I love solar power, wind power, and other forms of sustainable energy production.  I am always looking for new ways to help the LED industry grow in tune with my industry, lighting design.  In the future, I see LED sources becoming the next light source in mass usage, and eventually they’ll be as cheap as incandescent lamps are now.

What really gets me kinda frustrated at critics of incandescent lamps is that most of them aren’t lighting designers, but since everyone else likes to bash incandescent lamps, critics hop on the blame game of incandescent lamps just because they won’t find much opposition.  Incandescent lamp critics, do you just feel good to criticize because most people will agree with you?  It’s true that it’s not an efficient source – but how many are you still using in your houses, where no one can see what you do on your own time?

Yeah.  That’s what I thought.

In the case of these old Edison-style filaments, I think that if critics knew what exactly they were criticizing and WHY designers are using these old inefficient lamps, the critics might have more of an understanding of what they’re criticizing.  In this case, I view this subject like iceberg lettuce – sure it has about no nutritional value, but lordy, people love it.  Why?  Well, it’s cheap, it has its place, and, well, it’s cheap.  In the case again of these Edison lamps, lighting designers are using them to get an atmosphere that most LEDs cannot recreate, and certainly not by a fluorescent lamp.  Charlie Palmer said that these old incandescent Edison lamps are twenty years ago, and Ken Friedman said “no exposed bulbs!”  Well, why?  Is it because you’re worried about energy consumption?  Is it because you’re worried about people commenting on energy consumption?  That doesn’t really seem like a good reason to me to criticize something that you just might not understand.

Now before you call me a troglodyte or some other important people word that you feel better using in order to insult a critic of critics, as a lighting designer, I have a problem being told that incandescent lamps have to be banned.  What that says to me is that you don’t think that lighting designers can effectively utilize the light from incandescent lamps, so you have to go ahead and make people believe that they’re just the worst thing since the electric chair.  I just have to simply say “BS.”  You can tell me how to do my job when you’re better at it than me.

I have a hard time believing that the best next step for improving our worldwide use of electricity is to ban the incandescent lamp.  Before you make huge claims like trashing decorative use of incandescent lamps, you should criticize our nation’s electrical grid, the development of Smart Meters, and the fact that energy companies make it nearly fiscally impossible for homeowners to put solar panels on their house in a financially effective way.

The almighty dollar stands in the way of effective and revolutionary changes to the way we light.  I think that sucks.  Next thing we know, fellow lighting designers, is that we’re not gonna be able to use HPLs, BTNs, FELs, or any other incandescent lamp because people other than lighting designers think they aren’t good for us.

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!