Friday, April 27, 2007

Today's crisis

I worked a lot today. We had two events, two performances, and a Major Crisis. It didn't start out as a major crisis. The Arts Council is hosting a forum on attracting young(er) people into the arts, held at the Conrad Hilton (which adjoins the Artsgarden), and as part of it they had a two-hour concert by a fun party band, Five After Five. Someone said something that sounded like, "Hey, Jeff -- why don't you wander over and see how the band setup's going?" So I wandered over around twenty 'til five (that is, twenty minutes until the show started). The band was set, but there was no PA: no microphones or stands or cables or speakers or amps or a sound board. I asked the band if they needed help setting it up; they said they were told they didn't need to bring any. I asked the hotel guys if they needed help setting up the PA, and they said that they weren't told to provide one -- and even if they wanted to, they don't own any, they just rent when they need something. I said, "let me get this straight -- nobody has PA, and the show starts in twenty minutes? Crap. Okay, I'll see what I can do." And over the course of the next twenty minutes, I assembled a complete sound system for a five-piece rock band.

For those of you who aren't sound guys (this would be everyone who reads this but Chris), I should explain what a feat that is. Setting up a sound system in twenty minutes is a Herculean feat. Doing it when you don't have the gear handy is almost a miracle. I accosted Zach, who was setting up for an event in the Artsgarden, and he and I collected a pile of mics and cables and extension cords and stuff and trucked it in a hurry down to the ballroom at the Conrad. I pointed and said what needed to go where, and ran to get the speakers, stands, and sound board, which were all down the street at the Arts Council's offices. We set vocal mics and mics for the amps, set up and wired our powered Mackie speakers, and set up the sound board. We grabbed speakers and an old semi-functional amplifier we had in the basement, cut an end off a speaker cable so we could wire it right to the amp, and ran monitors. And, somehow, we got everything set up and working pretty much on time. I stayed, ran the show, and packed up everything afterwards. How much of a feat was it to do all the setup in twenty minutes? For comparison, it took me over an hour to tear it all down and put it away -- and strike is always faster than setup. For comedy's sake, here's a picture of all the gear we assembled and set up in twenty minutes:

It's times like this when I'm extremely glad that I have amazing sound guys at the Artsgarden. Chris and Zach are both highly good at what they do, and they can really think on their feet and haul ass when needed. And, believe me, I know how lucky I am to have them working for me. I could find a whole pile of sound guys who are worse at it than I am; it's a challenge finding guys who are better than me, who are good to work with, and who can work our irregular hours. So, if you're reading this: Thanks, Guys. I appreciate you!

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