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Keeping the Looks Separate as Two Tours Merge

PLSN Staff • News • November 14, 2008

KNOXVILLE, TN — In the midst of their own separate tours, ZZ Top and Brooks & Dunn came together for a 17-date run across the U.S. and into Canada. The result: a merger for ZZ Top’s “In Your Face” tour (shown here) and Brooks & Dunn’s ongoing “Cowboy Town” tour, which continues on its own through the end of the year. The challenge for the two LDs was to keep the looks for each band as distinctive as their respective musical styles. “Despite having the same lighting system, Chris and I designed very different shows,” said Larry Boster, LD for Brooks & Dunn, speaking of his touring counterpart for ZZ Top, LD Chris Stuba. “I knew we’d be doing a lot of amphitheaters so for my design. I tried to use as little smoke as possible. My design is more theatrical, based around the scenic elements where as Chris designed more of a hard edge rock & roll design with a lot of smoke and beams.”

“We started this year’s tour in April, went to Europe in July and then hooked up with Brooks and Dunn in August,” said Stuba. “Brooks and Dunn had been out for most of the year with their own lighting rig designed by Larry Boster. We supplemented that rig with 24 VL 3500s, seven DL.2s and four VL 3000s, plus some Atomic strobes and audience blinders,” Stuba added, referring to gear from Vari*Lite, High End Systems and Martin Professional, supplied by Bandit Lites.

Along with the addition of the Vari*Lite 3500 Washes, 3000 Spots, 2500 Spots, Martin Atomic 3000 Strobes and Color Kinetics Color Blasts to the equipment list, two grandMAs, one grandMA Lite and three grandMA NSPs controlled the lighting.  “We also added our Catalyst system and grandMA consoles,” Stuba said. “We had two days to incorporate lighting cues and video content during rehearsals in Albuquerque. I believe we have ended up with really different looks between us.”

Although joint tours can pose challenges, the Brooks & Dunn/ZZ Top mashup worked out favorably. “The Brooks and Dunn crew is really fantastic,” Stuba said. “They really have made us feel welcome and the bands really enjoyed each other’s company. Baja (Randy Fletcher) was with ZZ Top during the 1970s before joining B&D. He really hit the mark on getting us all together. Larry and I have had a great time being FOH buddies.”

 “I’ve known Chris Stuba for a long time and he’s an excellent individual to work with,” Boster added. “Both camps really enjoyed working together. It was a great tour.”

Mike Golden, Bandit vice president, credited the management teams for their “outstanding teamwork.” They included, for ZZ Top, Carl Stubner, Rick Canny, Pablo Gamboa and Donny Stuart, and for Brooks & Dunn, Clarence Spalding, Scott Edwards and Randy “Baja” Fletcher.  “It is a highlight and honor of any given year to work with such talented and veteran acts as ZZ Top and Brooks & Dunn. It has been a real treat to be part of the historic collaboration between these accomplished acts this year.”

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