Lights! Action!

This is a diagram of Duane Sherwood’s light set-up at Scorgies. Apparently he wasn’t going to be able to make a gig and he may have left these visual instructions for Jeanne Perri who often helped us behind the scenes. Unlike other clubs at the time, the sound system and lights were always at Scorgies. But it seemed only Duane knew what to do with the lights.

When Duane wasn’t behind the board, even when some relatively big name band was on the stage, the lights would not be focused on the players, not clustered in any logical order so that blue and red lights would both be on a subject at once cancelling each other out, or all the lights would be flashing all the time. Duane carefully orchestrated the back row of lights to work in tandem with the front spots and he was able to produce startling results. He paced himself too. The lighting produced a mood that fit the music and punctuated the highlights. And he always saved a big bang for the right moment.


Duane Sherwood and Jeanne Perri doing lights at Scorgies

Duane did lights for New Math as well as Personal Effects and the Majestics. We took him with us to New York, Boston, Cleveland and Washington. We could hardly play without him. And it wasn’t just lights, Duane’s theatrical flair was largely responsible for the direction of the multimedia shows that we did at the Community Playhouse, RIT, the Top of the Plaza and laser light show at the Planetarium.

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  1. Stan the Man’s avatar

    Let’s not forget the efforts of Tony Gerardi and Muriel! I run into Tony from time to time… but that’s another story!

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  2. Jason L. Brown’s avatar

    Holy smokes, there’s that little six-channel light box with nothing but the button switches and faders. Duane did set some remarkable effects and moods with that lighting setup down there. I never could figure out how he did it, but I didn’t have much of a chance to try to imitate his approach because 90% of the Press Tones’ set was in quadruple time, so I just flashed and only needed to know where the stops and starts were. Colors? Whatever gels were lying around; just no greens or yellows.

    In later years while working with Uncle Sam I was confronted at several venues with large and progammable light boards and I felt like a stagecoach robber after the Iron Horse arrived.

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  3. ds’s avatar

    I’m actually demonstrating one of the amazing features of that little board in the photo.

    6 faders control 6 channels of dimming, but thats all controlled by the master fader on the left side. The buttons at the top are called ‘momentaries’ and pressing one takes that fader to full brightness, regardless of where the individual fader or the master fader is set. Thats where the flashing occurs.

    So the way to ‘increase visual drama’ as a song builds, is to have all faders up to say 75%, and master fader up to 100%, and then start flashing to the beat.

    In this setting, the lights are all at 75% brightness already, & the flashing is taking them from 75% to 100%. Enough change to show visible action, but not fully dramatic or intense.

    Then as the music builds and you continue to flash (you need to use 6 fingers for the 6 channels, so both hands are in action), with the left side of your left hand, you lean on the master fader & slowly inch it down from 100% towards zero as you keep flashing to the beat. You can see in the photo that’s what I’m doing.

    As you continue to flash, and the master fader slowly drops, the individual channels are now flashing up to 100% from a continually lowering level.

    So the flashing becomes more dramatic as it builds.

    That company made a 16 channel 2 scene board with momentaries too & I used it in larger shows. But I always preferred that little board in club settings. You had complete control in the palm of your hand.

    That pic was actually taken at the Warehouse, around the corner behind Scorgies. They had the same board. It was my last nite doing lights for PE.

    Note the little control box for chem fog. And I love how Jeanne has one hand on her hip, and a finger on the strobe-light control with such a droll dis-affection. Like a model on a shoot in Gay Paree. Really great.

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  4. Sue Metro’s avatar

    I remember that drawing! It was real and it all worked spetacularly. Where would we all be if it were not for Duane’s talents?

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  5. Jason L. Brown’s avatar

    I haven’t touched a light board in 20 years. I gave up stage work in order to return to college – just in time for Uncle Sam to score a tour of England. I seem to recall that the bump switches were referred to in the argot of stagecraft as “momentaries,” but I somewhat more than momentarily forgot all about it.

    And that fader/flash methodology, I never would have figured it out. I doubt most others would have, either.

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  6. Stan The Man’s avatar

    I used to run lights when no-one was looking, and especially liked the “momentary” feature. I later wound up succeeding Mr. DS hisself @ Sutherland High School. Mind you, those were some big shoes to fill!

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  7. JP’s avatar

    I remember this diagram also. But more importantly, look at Duane! Like a puppy! 😀

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