Doppler, A Roadies View

Monday, January 20, 2014

The road and another year gone...

It's a very cold and snowy day today.  I decided to log onto my blog, which I realized today I never seem to post to anymore.  I guess it happens.  I find myself on Twitter and unfortunately Facebook. Also there are a few industry blogs and forums that I like to frequent.

Time seems to go by quicker each year.  2013 found me still touring, though not as much as the previous few.  The guys in YES have been keeping me busy and 2014 is gearing up to be more so than 2013.

The music business is shifting on so many levels.  Bands are making very little money selling their music.  So touring is a means to make some real money and if they are lucky a living.  The bean counters have really stuck there noses into the industry.  Managers, accountants and even the bands themselves are cutting back on salaries offers.  They are also pushing to cut back on the amount of people they hire and ask the ones they do to wear more than one hat.

This multi hat issue is not new.  It has been going on with the younger and up incoming artists for some time.  The problem is established and more well known bands are doing it more and more.  For example they want the same person to do sound and road manage.  Or they want someone to set up the band gear and handle the merchandise.  Yet they only want to pay them the equivalent of one job or even less.

What this is leading to is the quality of work is suffering.  Also I believe it will lead to safety issues as well.

As a fan it will effect you to a point.  The quality of the product will go down.  Say if you have an young inexperienced sound person mixing your favorite band and it sounds bad, you a not getting what you paid for.  This will come back on the artist because "you" the fan may not be willing to pay your hard earned money to see them the next time around.

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Thursday, January 31, 2013

2013 is underway

ASIA Lighting Rig Japan 2012
Is it really a month into 2013 already?  Wow time seems to be flying by.  2012 was a fairly busy touring year which was good for the bank account.  I spent most of the year touring with the band YES.  We did a North American tour which included the US, a couple Canadian shows and a show in Mexico City.  We also did a tour of the far east which included Japan, Australia and Indonesia.  Things wrapped up at the end of the summer.

Mount Fuji
In September I was asked to work with the guys from ASIA which of course includes Steve Howe and Geoff Downes from YES.  It was ASIA's 30 anniversary tour.  This time we started in Japan and then did a North American tour.  The tour wrapped up at the end of November.

It was then announced that Steve Howe would be leaving ASIA to concentrate on solo work and of course the band YES.

Speaking of YES.  The band will be hitting the road at the end of February for another North American tour.  They will be performing three of their classic albums in their entirety.  Also there will be a five day cruise during the middle of it, that will feature several progressive rock bands along with YES headlining.

After this tour we should be heading to South America in May.  After that there is talk of a summer tour but where we haven't been told yet.

part of the kitchen remodel
Since I have been home for the holidays I have worked a few local shows, but mainly I have spent this past month remodeling my kitchen.  I hired a contractor to do 75% of the work.  I designed the kitchen and did most of the demo and all of the painting.  I was very fortunate that it came in at what I had budgeted.  I have a home improvement line of credit which I have been using over the past year to make improvements to the house.

It's tough doing anything around your house when you spend more time away from it than you do in it.

I will be working this year just pay for most of these improvements but in the end it will be worth it.

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Friday, July 06, 2012

I'm off to see the wizard

It's been a busy 6 weeks here at home, working with the guys at Audio Images Sound & Lighting.  We have been doing quite a few festivals providing staging, sound, lights, backline, etc.  Long hours but also some good times and laughs.

Well now it's back on the road on Sunday with the band YES.  The tour is kicking off in Toronto and will run till August 22 when it finishes in Mexico City.  A North American tour in the summer and fortunately most of the shows are indoors.  I hate the heat.

After the YES tour I will be heading out with the band ASIA.  Steve and Geoff from YES will obviously playing with them too.  The tour will kick off in Japan in the middle of September with a North American tour after that and the UK in December.

So it looks like the rest of my year will be fairly busy.  I have begun looking for a different house and have been going back and forth with the credit union on a mortgage.  It looks like I have finally been approved.  So hopefully during the weeks between legs of the tour I can find the new digs.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Toronto.....Not again

It's been a couple of days since another stage collapse.  This one in  Toronto, Canada happened during the afternoon just before the band Radiohead concert was to take place.  Four people were hurt, one of them Scott Johnson was the bands drum tech and he lost his life.  I didn't know Scott but in my business we all consider ourselves "brothers and sisters" and refer to each other that way.

Scott was a brother, one of us.  We all feel a sense of loss.  I can't imagine what his family is going through. My family has and still worries about me when I'm on tour.  It's incidents like this that make you step back and look at your own life.

I am one of those people that is always looking around my work situation and making sure that things are safe for me and those around me.  If I see something that doesn't look right I speak up.  The last few years I have been even more aware.

As I have mentioned before in previous post I help build and set up these outdoor stages for a production company here at home when I'm not on tour.  So I guess my senses are heightened a bit more.

I will be heading back on the road in a few weeks with the band YES for another round of shows.  There are a couple of outdoor shows where we will be on stages built by someone else that I probably don't know.  I will be the one guy who will be looking over everything with a keen eye.

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Saturday, June 02, 2012

Stay Classy Buffalo

It’s that time of year and the summer concert season has begun.   Concert tours large and small.  This includes festival shows of all types of music styles.

It’s the time of year when radio stations like to have their summer  “bashes” by some catchy name.  Most of these are outdoor events.

The country stations are no exception. Last night was one of these shows.  This is known as “Taste Of Country” and this one was in Buffalo NY.  The production company that I work for when I am not touring provides sound, lights and staging for this event and has for several years.

We actually set up the stage and everything the day before (Thursday).  We had excellent weather though a bit cool.  The forecast for the show (Friday) was rain most of the day.  The promoter (radio station) scheduled this festival “rain or shine”.

The morning of the show the bands loaded in their equipment this included some additional lighting, stage monitors, backline, etc.  Just a typical day which began at 8am.  The weather has turned gray, cold and rainy. 

We try to keep things as dry as possible.  Covering up some of the gear with tarps etc. The day progressed normally considering the conditions.  The gates opened and the crowd streamed in.

There were five acts on the bill and the first four performed.  All of them in the rain even though the intensity of the weather varied through out.  The conditions were monitored all day and fortunately no thunderstorms or dangerous winds up to this point.

This changed during the fourth artist Joe Nichols.  The wind started to pick up and rain became quite heavy during the late part of his set.  I personally became concerned.  I am the lighting crew chief on this event.  However I am also responsible for operating the motors that support the “roof” system, which the lighting is attached to.  The owner of our company was working on site with us and he also voiced concerns with the changing conditions.

We decided to lower the roof down in hopes to reduce the pressure on the structure.  This is normal procedure and it’s recommend by the company that makes it.  Upon doing so we received weather reports that the conditions were going to get worse.  The covering on the roof was taking quite a beating.  With that said the staging was holding up very well.  We take great care and time to make sure of this.  We even add two additional towers upstage to help carry the load of everything hanging on it.  This is an eight tower roof.

No matter how safe you are and how good the equipment Mother Nature can still come up and smack you in the face.  The roof is only rated to handle a certain point of wind speeds and we were approaching them.  So it was decided with all those involved that the remainder of the show was to be cancelled.

No one likes to see this.  We don’t go through the dozens of hours, effort and man power to not give the paying public what they want.  It’s about putting on the best show possible.  When it’s all said and done the public safety, the bands and crews safety are what matters.

The public was told that we could not continue at which point the booing began.  This was understandable.  What began next was pathetic.  Several people decided to begin throwing full beer cans, chairs and other items at the stage.  We are looking out for these people’s safety and they turn around and potentially could hurt those helping them by throwing things.

Yes it was small amount of idiots that did this but it makes the people of Buffalo come across as ignorant and childish.

I hope those that threw things and shouted obscenities have “sobered up” today and realize that stopping the show was the right thing to do.  They can say what they want.  I know that all the powers that be would handle this the same way if and when it’s happens again.

I know I woke up earlier today knowing we did the right thing.

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