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Stevie C’s Blog.

What I’ve been up to…

Roadie: lighting tech, stage crew, spot-op, sound engineer, DJ.

CRUK R4L 2015

August - October 2015

Having been involved with Cancer Research UK/Kirriemuir Relay for Life in past years, I hoped to make this one even better. I arrived bright and early - albeit hungover - to help DD8 Music with the load-in. I installed my festoon harness for general lighting with coloured lamps, a mirror ball with PAR cans and the t-bars and disco lights.

PA-wise we used a Peavey XR1212, with XT tops and matching subs with IPR power amps along with Yamaha DXR12s and a pair of Torque HD 415s for long-distance throw. I had to spend some time making up speakon cables from repurposed mains cables to reach across the stage.

Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Relay for Life 2015 Kirriemuir Show Field with DD8 Music
Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Relay for Life 2015 Kirriemuir Show Field with DD8 Music
Cancer Research UK Relay for Life 2015 Kirriemuir Show Field with DD8 Music - Disco tent LED fairy Lights

For the Silent Disco, I rigged long strings of LED fairy lights around the perimeter of the marquee tent and set a few lights up on a basic sequence. I had to swap out a misbehaving parcan (power cycling transformer) with an LED one. As the sun faded, we started lighting up the stage.

Main stage of the Cancer Research UK Kirrie Relay for Life marathon. Sound and lights by DD8 Music and Stevie C
Main stage of the Cancer Research UK Kirrie Relay for Life marathon. festoon lights by Stevie C

At 10pm for the Candle Of Hope ceremony, we powered down all the lighting except for the open white spots on the mirror ball. I took the time to go get something to eat after working for 12 hours, but was told they too were on a break. I got the feeling they thought I was being disrespectful - as everyone else was attending the ceremony.

Sonnet 65 were finishing off on the main stage from 11pm to midnight - so we “lit the stage like a mother flipping christmas tree”.

Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Kirrie Relay for Life Marathon: Candle of Hope ceremony
Sonnet 65 playing at the Cancer Research UK Relay for Life Kirriemuir marathon fundraiser.

Sonnet 65 finished, we powered down and transplanted a few of the lights into the Silent Disco Tent. I did indeed Panic! at the disco, over what to play.

Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Kirrie Relay for Life Marathon: Silent Disco lighting and DJing by Stevie C
Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Kirrie Relay for Life Marathon: Silent Disco lighting and DJing by Stevie C

I swear the Silent Disco is the maddest thing I’ve ever done. I was DJing from one laptop and Graham took it in turns with other DD8ers to DJ from another one. Both fed into a dual stereo transmitter, and the audiences’ headphones could select between the 2 channels. Perhaps one of the maddest aspects of it was I would take off my monitor headphones and hear most of the people singing along with the track I was playing, then whatever was on the other laptop, and back-and-forth in this manner.

People loved our music so much that they disappeared with the wireless headphones while continuing round the track, leaving no headsets for those wanting to enjoy the disco. So maybe we could look into an FM transmitter so people can tune in on their phones… One challenge of a silent disco is there being no audio for Sound2Light fixtures to sync to. I was busy DJing so DMX control was out.

Silent Disco at 2:09.

Graham was shocked at the amount of Cheese I was playing and how much genre-hopping I was doing. Philip was certainly surprised when I started playing a live recording of his band I just happened to have in my library. Radio DD8! I may have got trigger-happy with the fog machine, as it was still hanging about in the air when I returned to de-rig later that morning. I got about 2 hours of semi-awake sleep. I was aware of the early morning band striking up and the sleep deprived performers completely forgetting the lyrics and chords of a Johnny Cash song, or maybe I just dreamed that?

Kirrie Relay for Life: Silent Disco morning after, too much fog hanging around in the marquee
Something doesn’t look right to me

CRUK Time Lapse

Graham from DD8 Music filmed the entire event on his GoPro in time lapse. I got my 15 frames of fame!

House Party

Someone asked to borrow some LED fairy strings for a house party. I met Mitch from audioWAVE doing a gig in the city square on the way, so I came back at de-rig time to help out.

Stevie C’s LED fairy lights at a house party.
Dundee City Centre Love Music Hate Racism Unite. sound by audioWAVE.

Party At Pitskelly

DD8 Music was asked to help out at a fundraiser for a new football pitch. We took a stripped down version of the CRUK RFL sound & lighting system along. I turned up with a hangover again, which seems to make me more motivated. I guess Frank Sinatra was right. We were given a generously sized generator with AVR. Cool Beans.

Provisional Events

I read somewhere that Roadies share the same incidence of stress as other professions including vets, surgeons and soldiers. Not surprising when one considers the strain on relationships, accidents, industry changes, and the anxiety of never being permanently employed and wondering where that next gig is coming from. Nor does it help when potential clients ask for discount or undervalue your services. Nor do cancelled shows. It happens.

The Peatbog Faeries at Kirrie Town Hall

After experiencing the Peatbogs at HebCelt Fest, I was looking forward to working a DD8 Music gig with them. I was able to help setup and de-rig, but I missed the show due to being called out to DJ in the Salty Dog.

The Peatbog Faeries get-in at Kirriemuir Town Hall. Sound by audioWAVE

The Joy of SECTT

Having a keen interest in lights and electricity from a young age - sparked by my grandad, a sparky - I thought I’d found (another) perfect job - an apprenticeship as a street lighting electrician with Dundee City Council. I didn’t get the job. What on earth did I do wrong?

Having missed the opportunity when leaving school - the lack of social skills and theory of mind would have made me a sitting duck in a work environment - I duly applied to SECTT for the necessary pre-employment assessment. I arrived at the test centre early, and having found the room - nothing was clearly signposted - I walked right into a technical drawing class to be told that the SECTT exam was being held elsewhere. Having finally located the correct room by chance, the examiner sneered at me for not wearing a tie, unlike the 2 younger applicants, both of whom had forgotten to bring pencils and an eraser as instructed. Due to the manufactured anxiety I was unable to concentrate. They also refused to accommodate my learning support needs, as they did not want to show favouritism. It transpired that the mock test is not a fair approximation of the actual test, and that despite being told we would be marked on the questions we had answered - instead of the total questions - I failed the exam as I hadn’t answered all the questions.

Drumtochty Tavern

As PITF didn’t happen this year, I needed a replacement mini-festival. I found one in the form of a private party at The Drumtochty Tavern, a cosy little old-school country pub situated in deepest darkest Harrietfield. It was a working party.

First: we stuck the solar lights around in the grounds so they would have a chance to charge up. I also strung LED fairy lights around the perimeter fence.

DJ Ross and Stevie C en route to Drumtochty with our speakers, lights and a mirror ball loaded into the minivan Tetris-style.
Drumtochty Tavern: Solar garden lights and LED fairy lights around the perimeter
Drumtochty Tavern: Solar garden lights and LED fairy lights around the perimeter.

Next we installed some mood lighting around the inside of the venue with LED floodlights, as well as swapping out the CFL bulbs in the light sockets with both low wattage coloured festoon bulbs.

Drumtochty Tavern: LED floodlights and hand-painted bulbs for mood lighting
Drumtochty Tavern: LED floodlights and hand-painted bulbs for mood lighting
Drumtochty Tavern: LED floodlights and hand-painted bulbs for mood lighting

The aim of the main bar was to mimic The Salty Dog Dundee as much as possible. This was achieved with LED disco bulbs, yet more hand-painted bulbs, LED color tape and fairy strings.

Drumtochty Tavern: LED disco bulbs and tape light
Drumtochty Tavern: The Games Room with a mirror ball, laser, LED mesh lights and UFOrb
Drumtochty Tavern: The Games Room with a mirror ball, laser, LED mesh lights and UFOrb

We set the DJ gear up in the games room, and fed the zone output into HiFi amps so we could send sound outside to the fire pit and to the bar via some Technics and Sony speakers in addition to the Mackie SRMs. What happened next is a mystery thanks to Ross’ homemade Chilli Vodka.

Drumtochty Tavern: LED fairy lights
Drumtochty Tavern: hand-painted light bulb by Stevie C

Unfortunately, the night was shortened with a punch-up. As Viz Comic say, “A pint and a fight - a great British night”. Other than that, I think Mrs. Lincoln enjoyed herself.

Red House Hotel, Coupar Angus

DJ Ross was playing at a distant relation’s wedding do, so I lent him some amazing lights for the night. You’ll probably notice my LED tape in there somewhere.

I’m keen to return to their tavern next-door, as they have full-size snooker tables and export on tap.

One More Thing…

I tried to rename my pet Tiger “Chye-Tii”. He prefers Tigee.

I’ve been listening to Paul Hardcastle, The Weeknd, Seal, New Order, 20X, Vitalic, Craig Armstrong, NERVO, Jay-Z, Foxbeef, Seona Dancing, Johnny Cash and Justin Timberlake.


Time to look for work.