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Old Forester’s Paristown Hall

Jim Hutchison • InstallationsSeptember 2019 • September 10, 2019

Trombone Shorty opens the event space.

Kentucky Center’s Performing Arts Venue Draws Crowds with Nightclub Energy

Kentucky is widely known for bluegrass, bourbon, and breeding world-class horses, and cities like Lexington and Louisville are burnishing their already impressive reputation for producing world-class arts, music, and production. The Louisville-based Kentucky Center, a forward-thinking organization that produces a wide variety of entertainment and education through outreach programs, is always evolving. When the Center wanted to create a space that reached out to live music fans and the increasingly growing millennial community of Louisville, it went to design firm Crossfade Design — Eric Wade and Michael Nevitt, and their team of production samurai.

The Paristown Hall is open for all sorts of projects

‡‡         Four Spaces, Plus One More

The Kentucky Center performing arts complex has four main spaces and their adjacent lobbies that offer visitors a vast array of performance genres. There’s the ornate Whitney Hall, a 2,377-seat Broadway and touring house; the 619-seat Bomhard Theater, ideal for smaller scale performances; the 1,441-seat Brown Theatre, called the “Grand Dame of Louisville’s artistic community,” and the MeX Theater, a 139 seat black box for experimental work and myriad configurations of events.

What the Kentucky Center did not have, until recently, was an event space that accommodated the market for live music in a small venue; with bars and open balconies, where the audience can move around — a venue that appeals to a large portion of the live music and touring market. The Kentucky Center needed a viable performance space that was energy-efficient, had a good flow, and was up to date technologically in its concert offerings.

“The Kentucky Center is an amazing place with a real history of progress in the arts,” says Michael Nevitt, president/GM of Crossfade Design and lighting designer for Old Forester’s Paristown Hall, with naming rights going to the locally produced brand of Kentucky bourbon. “The Center knew they had a need, through their knowledge and understanding of their community.” The planning and execution of the Old Forester’s Paristown Hall was the solution to this need; the Kentucky Center partnered with local Louisville bourbon maker Old Forester’s to make this new venue a reality. The project was a $12 million, 28,000-square-foot standing room venue holding up to 2,000 people. The venue was designed to be fluid, flexible and accommodate a myriad of performance styles.

The range of musical offerings is already eclectic. Mucca Pazza; a celebration of arts and music, and a headliner of Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue kicked off their opening night celebration. Since then, Lucero with Lydia Loveless, Interpol with Surfbort, and Gavin DeGraw have rocked this new stage. By design, Paristown Hall is a venue geared towards live music lovers who enjoy a night out with friends — with drinks, dancing and the hottest musicians.

The hall can easily accommodate 2,000 people

‡‡         Infusing a New Vibe

The Kentucky Center is a theatrical complex, and adding a rock ‘n’ roll venue into the mix was exciting for Nevitt and his team. “We put a grandMA3 into the Paristown Hall, but most of the other venues at the Center are ETC driven,” Nevitt says. “The house staff was eager to get time behind the desk; they’re a professional group excited for their new venue.”

Crossfade Design staff LD/programmer Sam Brown created the preprogramming for Paristown Hall. “I programmed onsite for a week,” Brown says, “setting up palettes on the MA and a solid busking surface for the different kinds of music this venue is going to experience. There were a few nights that we had overnight programming, and I had crew who stayed with me overnight observing. It’s exciting to involve your client in your work.”

This particular project highlights a collaboration across several lighting manufacturers. “We set up a lighting shootout for everybody, and through looking at combinations of fixtures together, the client picked what they liked,” Nevitt says. The Kentucky Center production team includes Chuck Schmidt, VP of facilities; Peter Bell, senior director of production administration; Casey Clark, senior manager of operations support; Terry Schwartz, lighting director/master electrician; and David Doukas, director of production operations. David Glowacki is director of Paristown operations. “It’s excellent that we were able to put the client in front of the products to see what looks best for their space. The complete mix of manufacturers was wholly accidental, and it just goes to show how competitive the fixtures in our industry have become.”

Opening Night provided a packed house

‡‡         Gearing Up

The rig consists of a front-of-house truss, two projector trusses and screens, and two over-stage trusses that provide the top framing for the stage. Every fixture in the rig is LED, to keep with the mission of the Kentucky Center to be mindful of the impact of their work on the environment. The Kentucky Center chose Ayrton Nanobeam S6 Wash units to provide a solid beam/wash/matrix fixture in the rig, and Claypaky’s Axcor 300 Beam. Elation’s Artiste DaVinci takes the role of the moving head spot in the rig while Elation CuePix WW4’s serve as audience blinders.

“The entire system is based on streaming ACN to control the lights by design,” says Nevitt. “It’s a touring venue, so I wanted people to be able to bring in a Hog or an Avo and plug right in and have control over the whole rig.” All modern lighting consoles offer this stream of DMX directly from their desk.

One hundred Chroma Q Inspire RGBW LED houselights were installed in the venue as a special addition. “The venues in the Center are traditional and have traditional house lighting,” Nevitt states. “This was an excellent opportunity to do something different and add in an element of audience engagement that fits the fluidity of the venue itself.” As a result, events inside of Old Forester’s Paristown Hall can experience a complete coverage of programmable color.

The RGBW houselights are controlled by Pathway Vignette PoE wall station panels placed throughout the venue, and the console is not required. “We chose those Pathway Vignette panels for two reasons,” Nevitt says. “They are incredibly robust and reliable, and their customer service is out of this world. We had a situation arise during install where we needed some information from Pathway for our communication network, they were quick and stayed right there to provide the information we needed until we were up. That’s the support I expect when I’m onsite, they never disappointed.”

Old Forester’s Paristown Hall


  • 1       grandMA3 Light console
  • 1       grandMA3 OnPC wing
  • 22     Ayrton NandoBeam S6 Washes
  • 12     Claypaky Axcor300 Beams
  • 18     Elation Artiste DaVinci fixtures
  • 8       Elation Cuepix WW4’s
  • 100  Chroma-Q Inspire RGBW fixtures
  • 15     Chain Master D8 dual brake 1-ton hoist (60’)
  • 3       Chain Master D8 dual brake ½-ton hoist (60’)
  • 20     Tyler Centerline truss
  • 1       Antari HZ-500 unit
  • 1       Pathway Connectivity Vignette POE network system


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