CMC Speaker Spotlight: Steve Cohen

Steve Cohen will present Concert Lighting Design: The Blank Page at the Concert Master Classes on December 3, along with Jim Lenahan.

“I have spent my whole career learning from others," says Cohen. "From Dickenson and Branton on how to build a close-up; from Fisher, Brickman, and Bennett on how to push the envelope; from Tait Towers and Winky how to build the impossible; from the programmers like Foffano and Barancik, where I learn more how to make these fantastic tools bend to my will. So anytime I get to share my experiences, my mistakes, and my triumphs, I relish the thought and hopefully raise the bar so the art wins and the newcomers get some bedrock to build their futures on. I look forward to sharing some stories, laughing a bit, and showing a little of my process. It’s going to be fun."

About Steve Cohen

In 1972, Cohen dropped out of high school and b*llshit his way into the sound booth of the Starwood club on Santa Monica Blvd. There he pulled the levers (in time to the music) of that old Luxtrol dimmer (sometimes with his feet), mixed the sound, and drank a lot of 151 rum until he got a harebrained scheme to start a lighting company. After seeing one of the first box trusses ever at a Jethro Tull concert he said, "I want one of those." A series of events and a couple of shady investors later, he lined himself up with an old Disney rigger and a mad scientist and started Troup A Theatre. Nice name huh? He has always been a drama queen.

One box truss and no clients later, he and his wacky friends cold-called every manager listed in the Billboard directory and landed two bands the same day: Earth, Wind, and Fire, and Billy Joel. One system, two tours, required some fast footwork. So, armed with three blue coffin cases from 4 Star Lighting in Hollywood, while his whacked partners went on the road with his precious box truss, he went on the road as a one man lighting company with The Piano Man.

And from 1974 to today, he has been turning on and off lights to the beat, designing the sets, playing with that new fangled video stuff, hammering more than a couple set lists, and directing a few shows for a couple of piano men (Billy and Elton), three divas, (Mariah, Britney, and Luther) a boy band (*NSYNC), a little country (Sugarland, The Judds, Amy Grant), some pop idols (Timberlake, Enrique, Linkin Park,), dinosaurs (The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Van Halen, and Crosby, Stills, and Nash), music legends (Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, Yes, and Don Henley), and a few superstars (Reba, Lenny Kravtiz, and John Mellencamp). Oh, and there are those ‘80s bands (Heart, Hall and Oates, Boz Scaggs, and ELO).

Cohen has also produced, lit, and directed the Andre Agassi Grand Slam for Kids in Las Vegas for the last 16 years, where guys like Josh Grobin and Michael Bublé showed their stuff for the first time. For George Lucas and John Williams, he designed and directed Star Wars in Concert for which he won a 2010 Redden Award, and produced the documentary film The Last Play at Shea which airs on Showtime this month.

At 57, with two pugs and his man Curtis by his side, and no more 151 in his cards, he has no plan to stop anytime soon.

For more information about the Concert Master Classes or to register, check out our CMC web page. Check out the full schedule here.

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