The 1999 Bridge School Benefit Concerts

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
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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 2x12 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