Bands of Light

They say that the livin' is easy in summertime, but not for hard-working LDs. Lighting Dimensions checked in with Jason Boyd, who completes a run with Blues Traveler this month, and Steven DellaPietra, out with Vertical Horizon and its Everything You Want tour till the second week of September, about their summers at the spotlights.

For The Bridge tour, X marks the spot for Blues Traveler, as indeed it does for numerous bands trying out High End Systems' x.Spot™ luminaire. The Dave Matthews Band, whose 2001 Everyday tour is scheduled to end on August 28, was the first to try out the new instruments, in a design supplied by LDs Fenton Williams and Heath Marrinan (the units for both Matthews and Blues Traveler came from Omaha, NE-based Theatrical Media Services). Lynyrd Skynyrd, Limp Bizkit, and Bon Jovi are among others who have taken it along since then.

Blues Traveler photo by Jason Boyd.

Boyd's design (which he and lighting director Laird Beckwith programmed in a mere two days on an Avolites Diamond console) is inspired by Pink Floyd. "There's a 12' circle upstage of Slick Systems Mini Beam truss which has eight High End Studio Color® 250s around it, with an RP screen in the middle," he says. The rig also contains a 30' downstage truss, as well as four 10' towers. The towers have a High End Cyberlight® on top, with custom gobos, a Studio Color in the middle, and a Cyberlight on the bottom.

"The sole purpose of our x.Spot is to light the RP circle," says Boyd, who discovered it on and liked its specifications. "There are a couple of gobos in it that, when you use them in combination with the three- or five-way prism, you get some really nice psychedelic gobo effects, which are great for Blues Traveler." In retrospect, Boyd found that he could have used the x.Spot in other positions within his rig. "I would love to use them upstage as effect lights, because they move really quickly. But I do think the congo could be brighter, and although the unit definitely puts out good effects, I just wish I had more of them." [He adds, however, that had it been more viable financially, "I would have rather had the Vari*Lite® VL7™, because I know what that's got in it and I think its optical effects are better."]

DellaPietra, who has worked with Vertical Horizon since last October ("getting into concert touring really is a matter of being in the right place at the right time and knowing the right people"), is considering using the x.Spot before the band trades the road for the studio, and is otherwise High End-heavy. For this leg, mostly through fairs, See Factor Industry has him geared up with units including Studio Beams™ and Dataflashes®, controlled via a Flying Pig Systems Wholehog® II. "I've decided to stay with High End because of the fixture reliability and extremely minimal required maintenance, which is important to me because I don't carry a crew and there isn't much time to program. The rig is cool and practical," he says.

Vertical Horizon photo by Steven DellaPietra.

DellaPietra enjoys working with the band, which is touring with Barenaked Ladies (lighting director, Brent Lipp; supplier, Christie Lites Vancouver) this month. "When I first began working with these guys, I had several meetings with lead singer Matt Scannell where we just discussed our thoughts on the 'look' of certain songs. It was great working with a band member that was so interested in lighting. In fact, I think it was during one of the first weeks that I started with the band, during a European run, that Matt asked when we would be able to start traveling with moving lights. What more could you want from a band?" If you can't see Vertical Horizon live this summer, check out its lighting highlights virtually on the LD's website,