8th October 2015 - 22nd April 2016…
Where to begin?… Perhaps as usual, I’ve let things slide a bit thanks to gigs, parties, panto, last-minute wedding dos and of course the usual post-xmas slump (helpfully teamed with several, uh, “episodes” - not good). Over the worst of it, there’s nothing like a bit of ego-massage to lift your spirits. TL;DR: I’m getting a few more gigs so hopefully I can make this a full-time job, the discos in the Burnside Inn Alyth are on hiatus due to flooding, and I’m my same old weird self. What was it that Pink Floyd said about Time?
DD8 Music organized a fundraiser featuring Miami Vince in Kirriemuir Town Hall in aid of Angus Solidarity for Refugees, so I was there to do lights as usual. I did basic washes and fresnel spots for the band with the in-house lighting rig and desk, added some RGB LED tape & flood lighting to the front of the stage and also 2 t-bars of disco scanners, lasers and moonflowers. Then I added a 16" mirror ball (that appeared to have split in half in storage, moved a few millimeters and re-glued itself back together - very firmly) and used the in-house follow spots to light it.
Kirrie Town Hall all nice and pretty
I forgot to mention the LED fairy light strings I put everywhere. Overboard? Nope. I also got to DJ before the band went on, and after they finished. It wasn’t me who broke the golden rule of drinks near laptops (other than my tinny of Dark Fruit inside the Gaffa tape)… Needless to say, there was also an after-party - where the laptop and fairy lights re-appeared.
LED Fairy Lights everywhere…
So I found another favourite bar, just the thing for after a useless Triage appointment (useless for everyone except the owners who claim bonuses for doing the square root of jack shit while compromising everyone’s data security). Thankfully I no longer have to go to those, although sadly I have one less excuse for a pint. Among the many reasons for my love of this place other than the blues fest where I met a proper old-school Roadie and heard some amazing bands, they have started installing RGB LEDs. I wonder where they got that idea? Imitation of course being the best form of flattery. Not that I’m bothered; I’ve gotten to know the staff a fair bit (primarily as they’ve started coming thru to the Salty Dog). It’s not as if I own the exclusive rights to use LED lighting in a bar, but as with the Klozet and just about every other pub in Dundee - the Salty Dog did it first!
Another such time for a well-deserved pint is after working as FSOP and/or stage crew; for such acts as Mad About The Musicals with Gareth Gates and Michael Courtney or Silver Bells with Leah Bell (probably the quickest load-out ever: 7 xmas trees with fairy lights and a hazer). The gig dates were pretty far apart, but I’m condensing them into one segment to confuse the space-time continuum.
Last time I was here was with the very talented Sellars Brothers with their Jazz Quintet for the Alba Real Ale Festival, crewing for audioWAVE. It was good to be back here, albeit with DJ Ross for a wedding disco. They had wine on tap.
There’s not much to report, other than one of my scanner mirrors getting broken in transit, me getting to DJ for the first hour, not many people showing up and witnessing Darren dressed as his drag alter-ego Fag-Ash Lil having his(/her?) chest hair waxed off by DJ Ross and a few others in aid of Cancer Research UK.
I’m pretty confident that Discos does not require an apostrophe… I was busy with DD8 Music all weekend doing Halloween discos for the Guides and Kirriemuir Thistle FC Football Club. I broke out some LEDs - there’s a surprise…
DD8 Music got asked by the Kirrie Rotary Club to put on bands for fireworks night up the hill (Camera Obscura), so while being on my weird sleep pattern (biphasic) and after sorting some stuff in the Salty, I headed up to sort out some lights. I’m glad I did as not only did I get to use my LED torch as a lightsaber in the fog, someone had setup my Royale festoon harness on the floor of the truck - just perfect positioning for the expensive color-filter housings to get trodden on and broken… After a quick de-rig, I was off to Forfar to get the experience of DJing in a nightclub, which was fun.
Know that feeling of being able to say of an amazing gig, party or rave: “I helped make this happen!”? I was able to say that of this event, albeit just for the PA system, but still, what an amazing night - when that bass drops (and the D&B infra-subs attempt to murder you) and the strobes blind you…
As I explain in the video, I cannot take any credit for lighting; but after the crew work was done and I had time for a few (“just be ok for load-out!”), I pondered: the gobos in the moving heads were identical to the ones in my disco scanners (which are DMX-512 capable) and the strobes are available online for not much money, I had a bit of a “Light Bulb Moment”. I know it’s called a lamp!
Backstage, spiking my boss’s drink & 2ManyDJs TV graphics
There were a few times when the power dropped out (to that all-too-familiar audience “AWWWWWWW”); at first we suspected the subs were drawing too much power but it turned out to be an incompatibility between our distro & GFIs and the venues power/earth… I picked up a Todd Terje flyer from the bar (a New Years event also organized by Let It Bleed Promotions); and having thought that despite the power problems, we had made a good impression and so could potentially become part of the New Years Day celebrations.
The next few weeks seem to blur into a mash of casual crew work for The Webster Theatre (including a script reading for the Panto) and beyond, taking me back up to Aberdeen for a Blues Office Xmas Night Out (don’t ask) and back to Dundee for a wrestling PA install and to rig and fly a D&B system in the Caird Hall for Frankie Boyle. Inevitably, when somebody started whining to the local rag the following week about the sound system being crap, I was able to confidently refute and educate them about the acoustics being the problem. Take Frankie’s advice and jump, pal.
No images of Frankie for obvious reasons
Fresh out of Frankie Boyle I started back at the Webster for Panto season. Instead of frequently having too little work, it was now time to have almost too much - to the point I missed a family member’s wedding because I didn’t want to take time off of the work I had been lucky to get. It was so good to get back into regular work (is it work when I enjoy it?) and see everyone again, but my Dog, has it really been a year? As usual, I lit up the Green Room with LED fairy lights, and in the words of one of the actors, made it a “Green Room you actually wanted to be in” - Woo Hoo.
The Webster Theatre Green Room
The modus operandi for December seemed to be: when I wasn’t working at the theatre, I was crewing for audioWAVE, supplying disco lights or DJing in The Salty Dog. DJing is fun but can be stressful/demoralizing as you’re treading a line between the genres you’re supposed to play, and the crap some people demand - and I have quite the eclectic taste in music, but these requests were just utter garbage. I had a bit of a fall-out with DD8 Music after I lent them disco lights (I was working elsewhere) for their birthday party/new boiler fundraiser in KTH and they returned them improperly packaged (leading to the failure of another of my scanners which I needed for DARE! the following week - cue frantic parts-ordering and getting raped on express shipping…) but everything is cool beans once again. Two such “other gigs” were a kids’ Santa’s Grotto at Kirriemuir Community Learning & Development which had lots of lights; and a beerfest with audioWAVE which definitely could have done with some lights - if only I’d stuck some RGB LED floods and some LED tape in my rucksack…
What a contrast…
audioWAVE Sound Hire was booked for DARE! at Mains Castle, and DJ Ross was booked to play on the Chillout Floor - so guess who was booked for lights and crew by each of them? This is one of the few occasions that doing 2 or more gigs at once (I also had 2 Panto shows that day, and 2 the next day on top of de-rig) actually goes according to plan without having to break out the Time Turner (I borrowed one from Hermione). It took me about a month to track down some of DJ Ross’ missing gear that had been left at the castle overnight to be collected the next day.
Having spent the time off at the weekend babysitting a cat (or is it pet-sitting?) and DJing in the Salty Dog for Sunday Club, I had been asked to help Graham from DD8 Music do the Southmuir Primary Disco in Kirriemuir the following Monday. Nothing special to write about (but I’m going to anyway): 2 Yamaha DXR speakers, a Phonic mixer, a DJ laptop so simple a child could (and did) operate, 2 t-bars with 4 scanners, 3 lasers, a moonflower, a vista centerpiece, 2 LED floods and a hazer we couldn’t use due to the fire alarm… The video clips were filmed before the guests arrived, for obvious reasons.
Due to the Panto finishing early for Xmas eve (so that the cast and crew could get home easily), I was able to de-rig my fairy lights out of the Green Room, drop them home, pickup my LAN cable (for the Allen & Heath Digi Snake) and some LED flood lights & tape lights and head to another gig: Around 7 at the Ploo - it’s been a while since I’d mixed and live-recorded several full-scale bands. Thankfully, Mitch from audioWAVE hung about to make sure I was ok (I still don’t have that inner confidence to own the stage).
Around 7 at The Ploo
As with all stereo buss recordings, what you hear (what was recorded) is only the instruments not loud enough onstage thus needing amplified by the PA. So, seeing as I had a face-full of guitars all night (at one point the guitarists turned their amps up to 11, and then asked for more in the monitors), those didn’t need to go thru the PA that much, so are quiet in the recording. For some reason, I’m unable to embed the soundcloud player without it messing up all the YouTube embeds…
I had a day of rest on Xmas Day until returning to the pub to continue the de-rig. I took my wages to the Salty Dog Bampot Bash and Roots… at The Reading Rooms. Once upon a time, I was worried that I was obsolete lighting-wise as my SoundLab G017r scanners I had in The Salty didn’t match up to the mirror & barrel scanners everyone else seemed to have at other events - and now that I have myself a few of these scanners, everyone else (particularly those at the Rooms) have upgraded to LED scanners and moving-head washes. Such is life; I pondered my next lighting purchase over a few tinnies of Jamaican lager…
Having not been booked for Todd Terje (one of my favourite music producers) for New Years, I had been booked for Hogmanay (or Humganny as the Broon Bairn calls it - that’s kinda stuck in my mind…) to do sound & lights at The Salty Dog. In addition, DJ Ross had been booked to play in Klozet Dundee from midnight so I had been in earlier setting up more lights and patching our sound system into theirs. Come 11:30pm and a frantic scramble to get down the road with a laptop and mixer and back again and back again (not a typo), we saw in the New Year clutching cables and DJ gear whilst running down the road. Next day, since our equipment was already set up, DJ Ross was asked to play again that night. Cue the hungover de-rig…
This hit me hard and my words cannot do it justice. I still cannot believe it, nor do I want to. I would have loved to tour with Motörhead, and now that dream can never come true. Is it silly to have dreams, particularly where I’ve been derided on crew forums because you’re on tour to work regardless of who it’s for? What else is there? As Lemmy himself said (and I’m paraphrasing): “This is it, this is what I do, I’m not going to quit and become a brain surgeon or anything”. I tried to get a couple of local bars on-board with the idea of livecasting Lemmy’s funeral and possibly making some sort of tribute night out of it, maybe raising a Jack Daniels to his memory, but everyone I spoke to was either otherwise busy or not interested.
I had applied to HTGR: a 2-day course supported by BECTU Vision aimed at people interested in working as a runner for film & TV, specifically for drama. I wasn’t sure what to expect (I did wonder if it would resemble watching a Charlie Brooker How To Work In TV special). I turned up, feeling like I was back at college in my NQ year (not a bad thing) but immediately realised I was one of the older ones of the small group of 12 - again, exactly like my NQ year at Perth College. We were all introduced to each other, then paired off differently each time to discuss the various production roles on-site at a shoot, to complete a scavenger hunt of the sorts of things a runner may be asked for, given guidance on following a script and technical instructions/production paperwork and taught basic radio and communication skills and on-site etiquette.
We were given an in-depth CV workshop as a group, and also one-to-one CV feedback interview, as well as 3 interviews with industry professionals and careers guidance. During the interviews, we were able to converse with each other and get to know what area of production we were interested in; while I was there from a Foley and video mixing perspective, we had people who had just completed a relevant degree and training for technical drama, writers, editors, stop-motion animators, narrators, actors, wardrobe/design, and people like myself who had done some work in theatre…
I can’t really describe the feeling, but the course gave me a renewed voice in my head that said “yes, you CAN follow your dreams and have a job you love”. I left the course on Friday having added a few new friends on social media (so we could get together and create a production piece/showreel that harnessed all of our talents and interests in the future) feeling optimistic. Sadly over the weekend, another dark cloud appeared…
I can’t speak for everyone, but one thing that helps when I’m feeling down (other than writing my blog, thus stroking my ego) is having a gig/disco to look forward to (and distract myself by preparing for). Looking forward to work probably will not work for lots of people, but it works for me. Anyhoo, DJ Ross was asked to play a wedding at The Woodlands Hotel in Broughty Ferry - so I was following closely behind with lots of lights. I even got to try out a new (cheapy) LED light from ebay, which lasted until 10 minutes before closing time - avoid. I requested a refund, sent the thing by recorded delivery which was duly signed for, and then it went quiet; ebay sided with the seller then blocked my feedback alerting other would-be customers to their incompetence. Nice one, ebay.
DJ Ross was invited to play a house party, so Darren and I came along with lights and wine. Pinkies out.
House Party disco lights
Cables were tidied up a bit before guests arrived, but you get the idea.
Decorative LED mood lighting
DJ Ross was asked to play a 30th. Guess who else was there?
We had a wedding anniversary on, and there’s not much to report apart from the amazingly refurbished venue, not getting to use the hazer again, and a small person jumping on one of my lights and breaking it.
Sadly I cannot take any credit for anything here. Having missed Stop The Clocks for the umpteenth time, I caught a Pink Floyd tribute in a Dundee music venue to see how a real show is done, and the performance both musically and technically was on par with TAPFS, but obviously on a smaller scale. I loved the lasers, but who wouldn’t? I think I might have had a few and bugged the lampie for 30 seconds after the gig had finished; partly to say thanks for such an amazing light show, and partly to get his business card. I got his number, which I put into my phone with a bonus digit - so I just have to deduct which digit does not belong with the others…
This time it was JJs 60th.
Our next pieces are by local artists Mitch, Stevie C and whoever spilt paint on the theatre workshop floor respectively.
Could be hanging in the Tate Modern, but it’s not
The Salty Dog became another year older.
Salty Dog 5th Birthday: lights, more lights & party plates
Why does DJing in the Salty and looking after cats seem familiar?
Last time I checked, multinational home-wares outlets were not charities; but they are if you’re on jobseeker’s allowance and forced to work for free - and a helpful political bribe goes a long way to being classed as a charity for the purposes of getting a free workforce (thus sacking paid workers). I suspect my depression is caused by most other people’s apparent approval of this, and other such madness that is just par for the course these days. I feel like an alien.
Me and DJ Ross got a very last-minute wedding disco (it was 3pm, I was sitting in The Salty - where else - and a ceilidh band pulled out last-minute). It was in the Invergowrie Inn, in Invergowrie funnily enough. This is not only my new background, but the header image as well.
I think that’s me all caught up. My ego has been stroked and I feel optimistic once again; you’ll get the Facebook Effect by looking at this blog entry - you see all the cool stuff but not the depressing in-between days stuff. But I now have that cozy “I Can Do This” feeling I had at the end of HTGR. Let’s hope it doesn’t get in the way of much needed website updates (it doesn’t feel like 4 years since I re-coded from scratch) & the planning of a few weddings, outdoor events, gigs and of course… Dundee Dance Event 2016 - see you there!
Ever heard of a “Playlist For Life”? DD8 Music became part of the Beech Hill House Dementia Unit initiative and will latterly be joining the Dementia Friendly Kirriemuir project where they use music as therapy to help combat the effects of Alzheimer’s. Basically, music can be used to trigger an emotional response (something those in the advertising profession have known for a very long time) to elicit memories/thoughts/emotions or ideas embedded with that particular piece of music in the brain. DD8 Music are going one step further by coupling the tactile sensory stimulation of putting on a record or other playback medium with the audio information, thus improving the effect of the therapy.
The idea of the PFL is that you generate a playlist in iTunes (or on your preferred media browser/playback medium) of about 100 entries that relate to a meaningful moment in your life. I’m on 125 so have a bit of whittling to do… I’m curious to see how many of my choices follow me thru my life; indeed how many of them will be from my “Top WhateverNumberIChooseThisTime”.
Time does not obey The Doctor. Nor do I. Time for the pub…