AUGUSTA, GA – After three Grammy Awards, over 100 shows with the Grateful Dead, and 11 million record sales, Bruce Hornsby hasn’t lost his taste for touring. The legendary singer-songwriter is crisscrossing the US with his band The Noisemakers this summer and enjoying every minute of it. Touring is fun, Hornsby told an interviewer, because he and the band “keep the spontaneity factor high.” This free flowing spirit was very much in evidence when the Hornsby tour bus pulled into the Columbia County Amphitheatre in June, both in terms of the music performed on stage and the John Berret designed lightshow that backed it up note for free flowing note.
The owner of Quest Sound & Productions, Berret created a bountiful range of looks to reflect Hornsby’s eclectic set list with a rig that was anchored by CHAUVET Professional Rogue and COLORado fixtures and run with a ChamSys PC Wing. Even a sudden summer storm, which wound up cutting the concert short, didn’t damped the pure exuberance of the concert or the lightshow.
“The combination of Chauvet fixtures and ChamSys worked very well for me because of its flexibility,” said Berret. “Bruce Hornsby and his band convey a lot of different moods with their music and they are very loose on stage. The Chauvet gear gave me a lot of options and I was able to change looks quickly with my ChamSys to keep up with the music.”
Key to helping Berret conjure up a steady stream of fresh looks were the four Rogue R1 FX-B fixtures in his stage package. He had two of the units stacked on truss just to the left and just to the right of center stage. Drawing on the five independently controlled moving heads on each of the linear Rogues and their rapid pan-tilt movements, he was able to create an endless variety of chase sequences and sweep the stage with undulating wash motions.
“The great thing about the FX-Bs is that you can get a wide variety of looks from just a few of them,” said Berret. “Aside from moving their individual heads in all these different directions, you can also use them to create a range of effects. So you can change things up throughout a show without taking up a lot of space on your rig. We used them for some eye candy type of looks during some of the numbers — at other times they worked more as washes.”
Barret also included eight Rogue R2 Spots and eight Rogue R1 Beams in his Hornsby rig. Flying the Rogue Spot fixtures on upstage truss, he used them to backlight the performers at dramatic moments, change the ambience on stage with gobos, and engage the crowd with audience lighting.
The Rogue R1 Beams were stacked in three columns of descending height that flanked center stage. “We had the outside beams on 6’ truss, then as you worked toward the center, the next beams were on 4’ cases, followed by 3’ risers,” said Barret. “This made it easier to change up our looks by shooting beams out at different levels.”
Creating more subtle mood changes during the concert were the color washes that Barret effected with the 15 COLORado 1 Solo RGBW LED wash units in his rig. Utilizing the fixture’s 8° to 55° zoom, he created varied pools of colored light to set the visual tone for different songs.
Being able to cover a wide range of looks was essential to lighting the versatile Hornsby, who’s won Grammys for bluegrass, pop and rock accomplishments. A collaborator with greats from jazz, rock, folk, bluegrass and other genres, his performances defy easy categorization, which makes them fun for his bandmates — and fun for any lighting designer fortunate to work with him too.