Organized and hosted by Pegi and Neil Young, the annual all-acoustic benefit concert for the Bridge School has become one of the most anticipated and rewarding concert events of the fall calendar. Held over two days in late october at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, Calif., the 1999 shows gave audiences an opportunity to see a stellar lineup of artists performing both favorite and less familiar songs in often surprising collaborations.
Tackling this complicated production for the first time, Sound Image (Escondido, Calif.) set up an FoH position with three 48-input Yamaha PM4000s, all routed through a fourth 24-channel PM4000, which served as the primary “event desk.” Three 56-input Whirlwind snake systems, labeled A, B and C, fed the FoH boards and three Ramsa SX-1 monitor consoles onstage and provided transformer-isolated splits for video and recording trucks. P.A. was a QSC Powerlight-powered ACE G5 system, and onstage monitors were a mix of G2 single-12 and Sound Image 2×12 wedges. Several artists brought their own in-ear systems.
“The most difficult part of the production was the prep work,” says Sound Image audio stage manager Rick Stanley, who developed comprehensive mic patching charts for the nine scheduled acts with Dave Lohr, Neil Young’s engineer. Thanks to careful planning, each act was assigned dedicated input channels, allowing each mixer’s settings to remain undisturbed from soundcheck through multiple set changes. “We effectively ran the FoH position as a 150-input console,” explains Stanley. “Some doubling up was necessary when Smashing Pumpkins added an extra drum kit, but otherwise everyone kept their own channels. The hardest part was figuring out the choreog- raphy,” he laughs, referring to the multipin connector switching among A, B and C snake systems.
Most acts brought their own FoH engineers, with Sound Image’s Rich Davis taking up any slack and keeping between-set announcement mics, video feeds and other inputs live on the 24-channel PM4000 event desk. The event desk also hosted Neil Young’s harmonica, vocal and acoustic guitar inputs, enabling him to join any band’s set in progress. Bob Delson and Mark Humphries managed the monitor systems, and John Tompkins and Christian Walsh handled all stagebox patching chores.
Visual Design, Music, and Lyrics by Laurie Anderson
CAST AND CREWPerformersLaurie AndersonPip, the Whale, a Reader
Tom NelisAhab, Noah, Explorer
Price WaldmanThe Cook, Second Mate,Running Man
Anthony TurnerStanding Man
Miles GreenFalling Man
MusiciansLaurie Andersonviolin, keyboards, guitar,talking stick
Skuli Sverrissonbass, prepared bass, samples
Artistic CollaboratorsChristopher Kondekco-visual design
Miles Greensound design
Jody Elffsound mixer
Michael Chybowskilighting design
James Schuetteco-set design
Susan Hilfertycostume design
Bob Bieleckielectronics design
Ben Rubinvideo systems design
Anne Bogartstaging co-direction
Julie Crosbygeneral management
Bohdan Bushellproduction manager
Lisa Porterproduction stage manager
Talking Stick Development TeamBob Adams, Jesse Dorogusker, John Eichenseer,Dominic Robson, Geoff Smith