23rd April - 31st July 2016…
I’ve always thought I’d either be so busy or procrastinate so much that 2 (or more) blog entries would be published at once, so here we are. Please excuse the in-joke, it’s best read in a Stornowayan accent. I’ve just broken Rule No1 Of The Road… Oops.
The other Rule No1 is No Number 2…
Speaking of breaking things, I was called out by a friend who was having problems silencing her burglar alarm after a power cut - so we murdered it. The klaxons are now supporting a flyover. I’m the Fixer.
It had been going for about 10 hours, with police on the streets and phone not caring, with the one alarm engineer in the area refusing to come out as he was now in the pub, the previous tenants losing their custom code and the landlord losing the obscure system’s owner’s manual.
Removing mains power did nothing due to the battery backup… Removing the batteries from the bell box, user panel and control panel did nothing (how on earth was this thing powered?), so removing the klaxons from the bell box and both panels was the only way to shut this thing up for her to get some sleep. We later found out that whoever had installed the unused panic alarm had done so incorrectly and the burglar alarm was feeding off its supply… Turned out that I had been chatting to the alarm engineer in the same pub I was called away from…
Dundee Dance Event 2016
As is becoming the norm, I missed BonFest in order to prep for DDE 2016. Darren from The Salty Dog had been reminding me for about a month (therefore building the anticipation nicely) about the table we use for the DJ decks needing repaired (so it wasn’t being held up by Ross’s Mackies as per…). The joiner wasn’t available - so the DJ table got ratchet-strapped to another table. I also got sent to Maplin for a replacement power amp (I’ve lost track of how many ProSound amps have blown up on us).
As you will see from the video, I was asked to supply - in addition to the usual lasers, scanners, PAR cans, sequencers, mirror balls, LED lights and hazers - some Chinese paper lanterns with my custom hand-painted bulbs inside, so that the pattern on the bulb was projected onto the lantern. Sound-wise we had the Pioneer DJM feeding the Mackie SRM 450s and the karaoke mixer-amp in The Void, which also sent a stereo mix down to the Peavey HiSys system in The Salty Dog. You can also see my MacBook sending DDE graphics to the karaoke screen.
I was also asked to do some lights for Medina Bar & Grill - where a rival lighting company left a cheeky “Having Technical Problems? Want Better Lights? Call Us!” note on my t-bar…
So having done lights for Ross in Klozet, Jon Pleased Wimmin at The Salty Dog, a weekend-long DJ stint covering for DJ Ross in The Salty Dog (it’s not as easy as it looks, and i’m sure the people complaining about the tunes would not have done so had it been Ross playing them) and looked after his cat Smudge, worked as crew for audioWAVE at a Donnie Munro gig, done more lights for the arse-end of the West Fest in The Salty, been booked as a spot-op for a Joe Longthorne gig which was later cancelled - I was setting up for DJ Ross and then rushing off to work as crew at another gig in Newport. I’d had the foresight to make a graphic about DJ Ross to be shown on the wall displays in the venue; the watermark was a bit too visible.
DJ Ross in Klozet occasions 1&2, DJ Ross’ TV Graphic
Once in Newport, we went to church. The band playing in church was Sinderins - singing Hymn “Hy Hy 69 PARPS 666” - you can download Sinderins’ album here. It was a good day for it, such a nice day in fact that a reveller fancied a snooze in the church grounds (luckily not the adjacent graveyard).
Nice day in Newport, Sinderins and a reveller having a church-snooze
The shadows on the wall - cast by the only stage lights, 4 x 500W halogen floods - were very very eery. I wish I’d brought some LEDs - we also had fun hunting around for the main light switch after. I’m not from Newport [but you can’t] bet a fiver I’ve never been there either. GLC. You Knows It.
As Kirriemuir Den was facing some structural issues (read: some twats had smashed the toilets up and the Den itself had succumbed to the ravages of the Tory cuts), DD8 Music held Live Up The Hill (at Camera Obscura) instead. In true tradition, there was 2 gigs that day, the second being a gig in Kirrie Town Hall that evening for Bon Scott’s birthday.
DD8 Music Live Up The Hill & Bon Scott’s Birthday Bash
I caught the end of the Blues Fest in The Pillars & Salty Dog where I did a bit of live recording for old-times’ sake… Next weekend a birthday bash was held in the salty - mainly for Darren, but also for me before I left for Stornoway…
I can vaguely remember being an HCF Tech Crew newbie - although it wasn’t until my second or third year that I was sent for the sky-hooks and left-handed spanners… It felt weird becoming a veteran. Anyway, we had several newbies - some of whom are already looking forward to next year, and some who weren’t seen after 4 hours of the first day (after discovering that “Tech Crew” did not in fact mean “instant sound engineer”). Admittedly, this was partly in response to some Backstage Humour. An Aspie has survived (and thrived in) something an NT couldn’t. Go me.
Hebridean Celtic Festival 2016 Backstage Sound, Lighting & Video
Some backstage shots (just to prove I’m not fibbing) and the end result: being able to say “I was part of this; I helped make this happen”.
Heb Celt Fest 2016 Backstage - pretty lights
This year I was, as usual, on the video team - a bit of a worry was that Simon couldn’t make it this year (he’s arguably more experienced and confident than me, although he probably wouldn’t admit it). Luckily however, Iain (an experienced cameraman) returned, and after a long hiatus, so did Kenny (the director of photography) - leaving myself and a relation of Iain’s to operate the 2 other TV-grade cameras (there was a fourth set up on a static wide shot on the FOH island).
Sunrise over Big Blue & Lews Castle, my room at Bayhead Bridge Centre & Sunset
There were some problems. The hard disk in my MacBook Pro died (the previous disk death had taught me to keep semi-regular backups). What was irritating was me being instructed to bring my MBP on-site to make up the show graphics (instead of preparing them in my accommodation in the morning and USB-ing/Dropboxing them later), only for my graphics not to be used. The problem lay in the fact that the moving drive platters didn’t take too kindly to the slightly wobbly separate area of staging that was our AV/Video control booth, the result being that the system hung - while everyone else’s SSD-based Mac had no problems. Upon reboot, it displayed all the symptoms of a dying hard disk. Nobody cared. I was ready to walk off-site never to return. I finished my duties as a camera operator for the night, went home for some wine and some computer fixing and showed up for work the next day.
I took some photos of The Heb Celt Fest inside the tent and the crowd outside, boats in Bayhead, the Bayhead Bridge Centre, McNeill’s Bar and The Lewis Bar. Full-size prints available on request.
And so we come to the Survivors BBQ. My MBP was running again (albeit very sluggishly), so I brought along my amp & bookshelf speakers for music - and was “DJing” for about 10 minutes before the system locked up again. Weirdly, iTunes kept playing the playlist, although you couldn’t edit the playlist or use any other application until you rebooted. Everything worked fine after the 3rd reboot. I’ve since remapped the bad sectors on my Hitachi HDD (presumably OSX got damaged but iTunes was fine) and am saving for an SSD… Suffice it to say that lots of tonic wine and cider was drunk that day. I may have hit on another member of the Tech Crew…
Some artsy shots of Bayhead, Stornoway & the ferry
The thought of not having another gig to go home to does put a damper on a nice working holiday and despite the problems, I want to return. I even considered an early-2017 pub crawl of the island…
I almost never got home after being temporarily stranded in Inverness due to my link-up bus leaving early from the wrong stance.
It’s official: we’re a duo; I just need to learn keyboards…
Having opened for Ross at a function in The Clan in Lochee the previous weekend, we were booked to do a friend’s wedding reception in Chamber East Dundee (the old chamber of commerce building). I setup and hung about for an hour, as that’s when most gremlins raise their heads - and true to form, one of my scanners failed. Turns out that the years of good vibrations had loosened one of the molex connectors from the main logic board.
I had some down time until the end of the wedding, so as I didn’t want to drink too much (not least because I was working as crew the next morning), I went for a yummy curry at Sunny’s in Whitehall Street. I got back to the venue thinking I’d have at least an hour to spare, until a massive brawl cut the evening short…
I was crewing for audioWAVE again, and even got to mix the bands (and the karaoke) in the beer tent on a 12-channel mixer.
Gala Rocks! in Coupar Angus with audioWAVE.co.uk
While working for audioWAVE, Reece and I came up with an idea for a game-show: like the numbers round of Countdown - the contestants are given a resistor value at random, and they must make this with series/parallel combinations of 10 randomly chosen standard resistor values. #BigClive
As this is a two-part blog entry, I’ve listed a Top 10 and some stuff you should go buy on iTunes.
The Trade: Fight Club
Jon Pleased Wimmin: Dancing In Heels (HiFi Sean Radio Edit)
Leftfield: Alternative Light Source
Emit redder time? Time for the pub…