WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW CAN HURT YOU – Bo in the trenches / by Bo Gerard

Sometimes things can go awry at a performance site, and a little extra knowledge can go a long way.

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Standing on stage and wowing your audience is just the tip of the iceberg. The part of the iceberg that no one sees, and certainly the more time-consuming part, is the hours of prep, (booking, contracts, site coordination), the loading in, the setting up, and the pre-show check of sound, stage and lighting.

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And once you’re on site, knowing a little about some of the tech that is associated with your show can be a life-saver. Like, when you arrive at the designated ballroom, and there is a cart with a sound and light board hooked up and running, but there is no, and will not be, an av guy to help you get tech just how you need it. That’s when knowing something about how a lighting and sound board works can really come in handy.

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I’m not saying you have to understand all of the complexities of these areas of tech, but it certainly would behoove you to know at least how to turn them on and adjust basic settings. I have gathered a lot of technical ability on the job over my forty years in the business, but If you don’t know how a sound board with EQ works, it’s easy to find out. There are YouTube videos galore, or you can stop into a reliable sound shop, like Crossroads Audio in Dallas, and ask on of the sales people to give you a run down on basic operation. There are a lot of sound and light boards out there, but they all have certain things in common, and you can certainly learn enough so that you can at least get them turned on and working for your show.

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And to help with all of the other unknowns that will present themselves at the show site, you should always carry an emergency kit. You can’t depend upon the venue to have some of these essentials:

1) Always have a roll of gaffer’s tape - for repairs, and for taping down cables on your stage, so no one trips, falls and sues you.
2) Some index cards and a good magic marker – for writing that intro of the CEO they just asked you to make, 3 minutes before show time.
3) A cosmetics kit – with a brush or comb, hair spray, gum or breath mints, tissues, eye drops, cologne, hand sanitizer, band aids, a mirror, toothpicks and a Cliff Bar. And put it all in a clear plastic zipper case, so you can quickly spot what you need.

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And you should also make a habit of checking the stage floor and stairs for wobbliness or sagging spots, before your audience arrives. And one final thing. I have the kind of face and demeanor that makes people think I know stuff, so I always find out where the nearest restroom is as soon as you arrive at my ballroom. For I am invariably asked, at least 3 times during my set up, “Do you know where the restroom is?”