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Bandit Donates Lighting to 30th Warren Haynes Christmas Jam

USA – Warren Haynes’ Christmas Jam returned for its 30th year as thousands gathered at the two-night, sold-out event which benefits the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity. Bandit Lites worked with Pulse Lighting to provide the lighting for the concert, which featured performances from Warren Haynes, Grace Potter, Dave Grohl and Friends, Eric Church, Jamey Johnson, Gov’t Mule and Joe Bonamassa.

Bandit donated more than 170 fixtures and 500 feet of truss for Xmas Jam including GLP X4, GLP X4S, GLP X4 Bar 20s, Robe BMFLs, Robe Pointes, Elation SixPar 100, Claypaky Sharpys and Elation CuePix WW2 blinders.

Preston Hoffman is well acquainted with the US Cellular Center venue having designed the lighting for the charity event five previous years. “I started off using the best ideas from my past five designs and expanded out into the room to include the audience like never before,” he said.

Hoffman’s centrepiece was a massive 40’ diameter circle with straight trusses shooting through them, a nod to Pink Floyd for Warren Haynes performance of “The Dark Side of the Mule”, their take on the classic Pink Floyd album. The halo over the stage was lined with 24 Robe Pointes, which provided graphic looks that radiated over the space with the straight trusses supplying most of the stage lighting. With the audience seated around the entirety of the stage, these straight truss “wings” were outfitted with fixtures, including Robe BMFLs and GLP X4s, that created spirals and intricate twists to craft an immersive experience.

“The backdrop is always a challenge in this venue,” explained Hoffman. “The drop covers the balcony wall behind the stage, and since this event is so popular, we push the stage as far back as we can to accommodate the largest audience possible. This year I chose a chain drop that I could remove parts of to accommodate the backstage ramp, and to create more depth in the backdrop, I layered sheer fabric in front of a chain drop and lit them independently. The fabric had a dual purpose, it created a 3-dimensional psychedelic backdrop and added a touch of classiness to the weekend’s proceedings. The sheerness of the fabric took on many different looks depending on how you lit it. They became lines when they weren’t lit and then pretty solid when they were.”

GLP X4 Bar 20s lit the backdrop, animating the chain drop while staying in its plane. GLP X4s supplied front light ("they have very tuneable colour for camera and they move and zoom, and for the festival changeovers, being able to update those easily is necessary,” said Hoffman), while a half dozen more BMFLs were placed on the downstage truss for additional front light. To give a festive warmth to the room, Hoffman utilized tungsten elements, with almost one thousand feet of festoons draped over the audience and warm Christmas lights around the balcony and audience blinders.

“This 30th anniversary Xmas Jam was always going to be big and bold,” began West Coast office Bandit Production Director Dizzy Gosnell, “coupled with the amazing array of talent playing under our lights, and the two closers of Warrens “Dark side of the Mule” on Friday and Dave Grohl’s “Play”, it had to look big. And it did; it was mainstage, outdoor festival big. Preston really knocked it out of the park; large lighting rigs can sometimes look awkward when going intimate for slower, moody pieces, but this design was very friendly for those moments, but it really went into fifth gear on the faster, in your face songs.”

Bandit also outfitted a small stage on stage right with Source Four conventionals that Hoffman had dressed with a backdrop, a departure from previous years’ designs. The result was an intimate club feel for small sets that looked beautiful both on camera and in person.

“One moment that stands out to me was when Grace Potter was singing ‘I Shall Be Released,’” said Hoffman. “For that song I used the straight down column look from the circle and then took a single BMFL and back lit her from a dramatic angle which captured the reverence of that song perfectly.”

Dave Grohl took to the stage for the inaugural performance of his solo project ‘Play,’ a 23-minute instrumental piece that features both heavy rock moments accompanied by soft interludes.

“My idea for how to change moods between these different sounding sections was to use big lighting looks for the rock moments and then still laser looks for the soft interludes,” Hoffman explained, having personally lit the set. “The contrast between the two looks was amazing and you could really feel the difference between the two styles.”

For an event with this many artists and moving parts, it was critical that everyone involved operated at the highest level of efficiency.

“Our business is to make people happy, and our crew did just that,” finished Gosnell. “The Bandit crew of Andy French, Jon Houle, Ty Veneziano and Chris Noll worked long and hard and just nailed it on site. Jimmy Hatten, our project manager in the shop, ran the prep and was spot on as usual with all the details that can de-rail a load-in if they’re not at one hundred percent.”

Hoffman said the effort was shared by all including the team at Classic Event Rental, Matt Maltman and George Dodwort of Lightwave and the people at Roadshow trucking, who donated two semi-trucks to move all of this gear to and from the show.

“Dizzy Gosnell and Jimmy Hatten are the true masterminds when it comes to taking a design and making it a reality,” Hoffman said. “They stuck with me through several revisions and made the process so easy for me. Production Manager Kit Blanchard and Producer Jon Dindas were there every step of the way to support me in creating this vision. Thank you to everyone who made this work, I owe you all a great debt of gratitude!”

20th December 2018

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