Parnelli Awards Dazzles, Surprises, Inspires

in Features

Charlie Hernandez at the 2012 Parnelli AwardsThe one thing you can expect at the Parnelli Awards is the unexpected. That was certainly true at the 12th Annual Parnelli Awards gala held Oct. 20 at the Mirage Las Vegas when Jake Berry (tour manager for Madonna, U2) showed up and then after him, Billy Squier. Both wanted to surprise Lifetime Achievement honoree Charlie Hernandez, and that they did (and everyone else).

Jake Berry at the 2012 Parnelli Awards

The other Parnelli achievement honorees included rigger Joe Branam (Parnelli Visionary) and Sound Image founders Dave Shadoan and the late Ross Ritto (Parnelli Audio Innovator). But those weren’t the only highlights.

Terry Lowe, executive producer of the Parnelli Awards and publisher of PLSN, FOH, EPD and Stage Directions

“It was great to have Cory Wells of Three Dog Night host,” says executive producer Terry Lowe. “He’s one of the premier artists of rock, and his wonderful stories were insightful and entertaining.” Wells had a direct connection with some of the show’s previous honorees, noting that Jim Bornhorst (Visionary, 2010) got his start driving the Three Dog truck and Gerry Stickells (Lifetime Achievement, 2007) was the band’s tour manager in the early 1970s. They were early clients of then-fledgling sound companies Showco and Clair Brothers during that period, too.

Emcee Cory Wells of Three Dog Night at the 2012 Parnelli AwardsBaz Halpin, 2012 Parnelli Lighting Designer of the Year“I am thrilled to be here at the Parnelli Awards,” Wells said at the opening of his speech, adding, “I know how hard you work, how your talent makes my band’s performances better.”

A Night of Honors

High End Systems’ Richard Belliveau, the 2009 Parnelli Visionary honoree, was the first to hand out awards. “Wow, Wow,” he said shaking his head. “I am not used to being asked to come back to someplace twice!” He started the show off by handing the Lighting Designer of the Year Award to Baz Halpin for his work with Katy Perry’s recent tour.

Bruce Rodgers, Set-Scenic Designer of the YearA little later, lighting designer and performer Susan Rose gave the Set/Scenic Designer of the Year Award to Bruce Rodgers for his work on Madonna’s Super Bowl Halftime Show. Like Halpin, Rodgers took to the stage and thanked the crowd for the honor.

Rocky Paulson presented Joe Branam with the Parnelli Visionary Award

Rigger Rocky Paulson came out to talk about Branam, reminding the packed house of production professionals how much rigging has changed since the “Disney Riggers” team got into rock and roll in the early1970s.

Joe Branam and family at the 2012 Parnelli Awards

The documentary on Branam’s life played and Branam was so moved, he had to be reminded that he needed to come up to the stage. When he did come up, the retiring Branam brought his wife with him — along with his son and daughters, who will be continuing the legacy at Branam Enterprises.

Jim Digby was named Production Manager of the YearProduction Manager of the Year honoree Jim Digby also seemed moved, especially receiving his award from the legendary Patrick Stansfield. “I’d like to express my extreme gratitude for being a part of this years Parnellis,” Digby said. “I am honored to have received the award at the hand of Patrick Stansfield. I am honored to have sat amongst the greatness in the room on this evening. I am humbled to have simply been nominated and more so to have won the award in the field of other nominees.”

Cory Wells returned to the stage and handed out best FOH Mixer to Robert Scovill for his work with Tom Petty. Then Scovill returned with FRONT of HOUSE editor George Petersen to present taking some good-natured shots at their LD friends. Scovill claimed to be excited about giving out a new award, one that went to the “Most Overpaid Lighting Diva.” After pretending to open an envelope, he proclaimed: “Look, George! A five-way tie!”

Sincerity and Hilarity

Dave Shadoan at the 2012 Parnelli AwardsThe evening oscillated between sincerity and hilarity, with Shadoan, for example, expressing heartfelt gratitude for his late partner, Ross Ritto, then taking some time to share with the audience some authentic roadie vernacular. Brad Paisley’s deadpan tribute to Shadoan also brought down the house. “I don’t know what he does — he just shows up backstage, eats my catering, drinks whatever he can find back there, and smokes a Cuban cigar…so if that’s the kind of thing you honor someone for, then Dave is your guy.” Jimmy Buffet and Jason Mraz also sent in entertaining video tributes.

Michael MacDonald, president of ATK Audiotek, introduced Shadoan. “I met Dave when Ross introduced us backstage at a Jimmy Buffet concert,” he said. “Dave was wearing his signature Hawaiian print shirt, shorts, and a pair of flip-flops. At the time I thought ‘Wow, this guy will costume-up in band motif to make the client happy—what a great sales stunt!’ … little did I know ….” And in introducing Shadoan’s documentary, he quipped: “I understand it’s the first Parnelli movie rated ‘R’ for language.” But for all his joking, Shadoan was notably moved by honor.

PLSN editor Justin Lang and columnist Vickie Claiborne presented awards as wellPLSN editor Justin Lang and columnist Vickie Claiborne gave out the last awards of the evening, including best lighting company of the year, which went to PRG. Then Lang introduced the Charlie Hernandez portion of the program, which included a video tribute from Sting. Jake Berry also produced a video tribute for Hernandez, apologizing for his absence while on tour with Madonna in Texas, but as the video faded, Berry himself appeared — in person.

A Call to Action

After taking the stage to accept the honor, Hernandez expressed his thanks, and extended his gratitude to a long roster of fellow roadies, then ended with a plug for his non-profit organization,, and the difference every one of us can make every day, issuing a challenge for all to do more for those in need.

Charlie Hernandez, Parnelli Lifetime Achievement Award recipient for 2012“Send us $20 once month — skip Starbucks one day,” he said, adding, “We roadies are the first ones in and the last ones out, and there is no one better than us to the lead the way. We are all one-percenters…we are the mad ones. The ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like roman candles across the night.

Billy Squier performed at the 2012 Parnelli Awards

“We can be the one-percent solution. One cent from a dollar, six seconds from an hour. If we all put in it will add up to something extraordinary.” To encourage any who might be skeptical about the difference they could really make, Hernandez cited examples where members of the industry worked together, accomplishing seeming impossible tasks under the most difficult conditions possible. This began with co-producing a benefit concert in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia that raised nearly $8 million for the relief efforts in the aftermath of the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami in 2005. Later, this evolved into more direct projects, such as delivering supplies and medical personnel in and out of Port-au-Prince, Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, as well as delivering more than a half-million meals to relief efforts in Haiti and Pakistan. He also emphasized the need for such humanitarian projects to follow through and ensure that the assistance was delivered directly to caregivers, hospitals and relief workers, rather than being dropped off somewhere when it could be usurped by black marketeers.

LD Steve Cohen presented the Video Awards

A Night to Remember

Hernandez’ poignant call to action for the entire industry wrapped up the evening on an emotional, inspirational and uplifting note, and there was barely a dry eye in the room as he recalled numerous examples where the lives of families and children were saved by the generosity of others.

Patrick Stansfield spoke of the Parnelli Scholarship, which benefits the Entertainment Engineering Design Program at UNLV

Other distinguished presenters including PLSN/FOH publisher Terry Lowe, Patrick Stansfield, Peter Hendrickson, Dean Roney and Steve Cohen.

The sell-out show was a measurable success in many ways, including the fact that the sell-out crowd stayed until the end. Also, within 72 hours of the end credits, two sponsors had already signed on to support 2013’s Parnelli event: EFM Management and Stagemaker.

And the 2012 Parnelli Award winners were:

Parnelli Lifetime Achievement Award

Charlie Hernandez

Parnelli Visionary Award

Joe Branam

Parnelli Audio Innovator Award

Dave Shadoan & Ross Ritto

Mickey Curbishley of PRG accepted the Parnelli for Lighting Company of the YearLighting Company of the Year:

Production Resource Group

David Stern, owner of Precise Corporate Staging, 2012 Parnelli Hometown Hero Lighting Company of the YearHometown Hero Lighting Company of the Year:

Precise Corporate Staging

Lighting Designer of the Year:

Baz Halpin

Set/Scenic Designer of the Year :

Bruce Rodgers

Sound Company of the Year:

Sound Image

Hometown Hero Sound Company of the Year:

Delicate Productions

FOH Mixer of the Year:

Robert Scovill

Monitor Mixer of the Year:

Kevin Glendinning

Audio System Tech of the Year:

Vic Wagner

XL Video won for Video Rental Company of the Year. Pictured here are Dave Hyslop, Mark Haney and Bethanie Monroe. Haney also accepted the Parnelli for Video Director on behalf of winner Richard Turner.Video Rental Company of the Year:

XL Video

Video Director of the Year:

Richard Turner

Jim Evans Sr. of Mountain Productions accepted the Parnelli for Staging Company of the Year.Staging Company of the Year:

Mountain Productions

Rigging Company of the Year:

Atlanta Rigging Systems

All Access Staging won for Set Construction Company of the Year. Accepting the award was Bob Hughes, VP. Presenter Susan Rose is pictured left.Set Construction Company of the Year:

All Access Staging and Productions

Atlanta Rigging Systems won the 2012 Parnelli for Rigging Company of the Year.  Jason Adams accepted the award.Pyro Company of the Year:

Strictly FX

Production Manager of the Year:

Jim Digby

Tour Manager of the Year:

Marguerite Nguyen

Coach Company of the Year:

Diamond Coach

Upstaging won the Parnelli Award for Best Trucking Company, 2012. Pictured here are, from left, Robin Shaw, Jeni Clark, Evan Lawrence and Chanon DiCarloTrucking Company of the Year:

Upstaging Inc.

Rock-It Cargo won Freight Forwarding Company of the Year. Pictured here, David Bernstein at the podium.Freight Forwarding Company of the Year:

Rock-It Cargo

Indispensable Technology Awards

The Indispensable Technology Award for Lighting recognized the Martin MAC Aura. Brian Friborg accepted the award.Lighting:

Martin Professional MAC Aura


Yamaha CL Digital Console Series

The Indispensable Technology Award for Video went to Christie M Series projectors. Joel St-Denis accepted the award.Video:

Christie M Series Projectors

The Arena Lift by Stageco won the Indispensable Technology Award for Staging Product of the Year. Accepting the award was Mary Lou Figley, vice president of Stageco U.S. Inc.Staging:

StageCo Arena Lift

Sponsors of the 2012 Parnelli Awards:

Gold Sponsors: All Access Staging & Productions, Bandit Lites, Branam Enterprises, Brown United, CT Touring, Epic Production Technologies, Gallagher Staging & Productions, Harman International (AKG, BSS, Crown,  dbx, JBL, Soundcraft), JH Audio, Leprecon, Littlite, Martin Audio, Meyer Sound, Precise Corporate Staging/Dedicated Staging, Rock-it-Cargo, Screenworks NEP, Sennheiser/K-array/Neumann, Solotech, Sound Image, Stagemaker, Strictly FX, Tait Towers, Tannoy/Lab.gruppen, Tour Tech East, Ltd., Ultratec Special Effects Inc., Upstaging

Silver Sponsors: Chauvet, Elation Professional, Hemphill Brothers, Pyrotek Special Effects, XL Video, Yamaha/NEXO

Production  Partners: Access Pass & Design, On Stage Audio (OSA), PRG, SGA, Stage Crew, Techni-Lux, TPI (Technical Productions Inc.).

Cocktail Sponsor: Chaos Visual Productions

Parnelli Golf Tournament Sponsors

4Wall, Branam Enterprises, CPR Rentals, Daktronics, Doug Fleenor Design, Production Solutions International, IntelliEvent, Precise Corporate Staging, ProCases, Solotech, Tomcat, XL Video

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