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Home Free 2019 Tour

Steve Jennings (Photos and Text) • May 2019Showtime • May 3, 2019

The a cappella group performed at the Luther Burbank Center in Santa Rosa, CA on April 11, 2019. Photo & Text by Steve Jennings

Lighting Co

4Wall Nashville

Venue

Various (Tour)

Crew

Lighting Designer/Programmer & Lighting Director: Joel Wojcik

Stage Manager & Lighting/Audio Tech: Frank Montemurro

Tour Manager: Jenika Marion Foust

Production Manager: Chris Worley

Staging Co: Accurate Staging

Trucking Co: High Road

Gear

1          grandMA2 Light console

5          Claypaky Sharpy Washes

12       Robe Robin Pointes

16       Martin MAC Aura XB fixtures

10       Elation Chorus Line 16 fixtures

2          Color Force II 72 RGBA fixtures

2          Look Solutions hazers

Tour Notes:

Home Free is an American a cappella group consisting of five vocalists: Austin Brown, Rob Lundquist, Adam Rupp, Tim Foust and Adam Chance. Starting as a show group, they performed close to 200 shows a year across the U.S. The group rose to fame after competing in, and winning, the fourth season of The Sing-Off on NBC in 2013.

Designer Insights by Steve Jennings:

Lighting designer, programmer and director Joel Wojcik talked to PLSN briefly about the Home Free tour he’s out with currently, mentioning that he was originally contacted by a tour manager friend that he had worked with before, that the groups manager was looking for a new lighting designer/operator. No group name was given, just that an a capella act needed an LD, and a ballpark of dates.

“I reached out to some friends, and they were either busy or not interested,” Wojcik says. “After that, I realized I had the space available before my summer obligations so I figured, “Why not”! Mind you, at this point, I really knew nothing. I knew the dates and that it was an a capella group. Upon signing up, I learned they were a country a capella group and had been touring a Christmas tour previous to this, and this was an extension to complete their album cycle.”

The group decided to streamline their package and use a logo backdrop from a previous tour. The original design needed to be broken apart of a “wall of floor pipes with fixtures” and cut down in numbers. “It really wasn’t too hard. I just cut a pipe here and there and opened the center to make the logo visible. I adjusted some of the original fixtures to a lighter more manageable instrument. Trying hard to add depth and dimension.” The main focus of the show (aside from the singers) is a 30 foot wide by 3 foot high angled riser with LED inlaid stairs (custom made by Accurate Staging a few years ago). “It works well, the artists have a great sense of their choreography and how to move about the stage.”

Working with the lighting company, 4Wall Entertainment has been great, notes Wojcik. “My first day in the mission was to cut the lighting to meet the new budget. Between myself and our production manager Chris Worley, we had it done pretty quick. The original show had a bunch of High End Fixtures, but size and weight mattered. I was able to fit everything in budget and get us a flat pack in the truck. We had to exchange a case or two here and there to find the sizes that worked without having a lot of wasted space. But we found the right combination. Regarding the fixtures, non color mixing fixtures are never my favorite but I am always up for a challenge and this challenge proved successful. It’s a great bunch of lights to have. We have done a few shows that we needed to use a house rig for the “flown portion” and the difference is noticeable. Pointes and Sharpy Washes are hard fixtures to clone with “insert profile light” without offending somebody. Even the Aura XB’s. You don’t respect the light until you have to swap it with something else.”

Originally, Wojcik had some Profile lights that had some decent weight and size. Reducing those numbers was important to him. “We hang 16 fixtures on 2 house pipes everyday and as lovely as it is to have automated systems. We run into the nostalgic “hemp house” every now and then. I’m not greedy, but I am willing to do whatever it takes to get our measly weight in the air. It’s about the challenge. I opted to switch some of the heavier fixtures to Sharpy Washes as I had spent the past summer with a rig of these and I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. Sure the Wash doesn’t do gobos or hard edges. But sometimes you need to tie one arm behind your back and see what you can do. Challenge Reference #2… The Pointes were here before me and I have always been a fan. Again, Color Wheels are never my first choice. But it gave me a challenge of organizing my looks and transitions. Challenge Reference #3…! The brightness and the optics are amazing. I can go from Pin to Flood to produce a look of many fixtures.” This is Wojcik’s first time using the Elation Chorus Line 16’s and he say’s they’re a solid fixture. “I’ve used the father of this fixture from the other manufacturer, and honestly I am not missing anything. They tilt, change color, multi cell, blind everyone. Check, Check, Check and check!”

Much of the show is my interpretation of how I see the music, Wojcik says. “There are a few moments that are held over from the past designer and I respect him for those. These are crucial moments in the show that spotlight certain singers. But before I began this I really didn’t think it was as paramount as it is. Shame on me… Coming into this I really had no idea of what it was. I had no idea they had been on a TV show and won. The quality of the artists and the quality of sound our FOH guy gives the audience blows you off your feet.” Going into rehearsals Wojcik had 3 days in Nashville with just lighting and the risers. All he had was a couple key videos to reference the feel and a few notes from some of the crew. “This was good. It allowed me to give it a different approach that built as the show went. Between our Production Manager Chris Worley and our Lighting and Sound Tech Frank Montemurro, they have made my transition into this easy. They are both hard working people that are invested in what we are doing. Any questions I had they could answer immediately, and then some!

“Our first run through was our first show, and it went great (for never seeing the actual show). I am always writing notes to make things better. More of this, less of that, faster, slower. Minor things that really only me and the FOH guy probably notice. But it keeps me invested. This has been one great opportunity I have fallen into. Sure, it’s not as big as I have worked with before but it has a lot of heart and pride in everyone here. Lighting aside, the people are amazing, the connections, and the music is amazing. Sometimes we find a surprise when we least expect it. I like what I do. I can’t beat that.”

 

More Home Free 2019 tour photos from Steve Jennings: 

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