GLP's ‘People's Light' Takes to the Country

The Judds, lit by John Featherstone John Featherstone uses Volkslichts for The Judds' Last Encore

Tune in to one of the many FM country stations and it won't be long before you are listening to either Kid Rock, or mother and daughter duo The Judds

Lighting designer John Featherstone (of Lightswitch) has been working with both recently — providing media and content for the former while designing a sensitive set blending lighting and video, to mark The Judds' swansong tour (the Last Encore) — in a bid to move further into the booming country market.

Running throughout the second half of the year, The Judds' tour proved to be both a finale and a reunion, as mother Naomi has largely been off the road since 1991.

As the tour's production designer, Featherstone worked closely with production manager Art Rich, lighting director Dennis Connors, lighting suppliers Upstaging and Vision Visuals (who provided the video equipment).

To ensure the stage concept was sympathetic to the occasion, the designer called on a rich armory (and eclectic mix) of cutting-edge generic and moving lights, as well as LED washlights … once again favoring products from the GLP range to deliver the striking LED floor effects.

“I have been using the impression and impression XL almost obsessively … but after being introduced to the Volkslicht, opted for that on this production,” he confirmed.

The LD has been using four downstage floor FX (on either side of the stage), and four more upstage centre. He explained, “The upstage fixtures were for ‘up and over' beam effects, while the four either side were divided in task between lighting the vertical truss columns, and side lighting the performers.”

But what do these so-called ‘people's lights' offer the designer? Greater energy conservation, lighter weight and a more compact form factor for a start. The Volkslicht also uses 60 Rebel LED's (21 green, 21 blue and 18 red) to create a full color palette from strong saturates to subtle pastel colors for shorter throw applications. And with a weight of 8 kg (17 lbs) and power consumption of just 180 watts it is fast and easy to rig.

On top of that, the Volkslicht also features full range dimming and a strobe effect.

And the lightning fast response and color palette were certainly features that John Featherstone has come to expect from the impression family. “They filled what I considered two ‘wish list' items on the tour enabling me to achieve design goals that I thought would need to go unaddressed for budgetary reasons.”

He also feels strongly that in the modern world, lighting designers have a responsibility to use LED and energy efficient sources wherever and whenever possible. “And from a design perspective, the saturation and punch of LED fixtures is a compelling creative choice.”

The Volkslichts featured in a production boasting an ambitiously curved set of trusses backed by a large video wall — the arched geometric (blending the classic with the contemporary), resonating strongly with The Judds.

The combination of vertical and curved trusses supported most of the lighting fixtures to provide a combination of interesting moves and angles which covered the entire stage. As for the visual media, also supplied by John's creative team, there were two themes: abstractions, such as images of rain, flowers, and numbers, plus a certain amount of photo retrospective material.

And the verdict on the Volkslicht? “I was very impressed,” states the designer. “I describe the Volkslicht as ‘the little light that can'! When competing against many much larger fixtures and an LED screen their ability to punch through was very impressive to say the least.”

Footnote: In the meantime John has dipped elsewhere into the GLP catalogue to requisition six impression XL's (this time from PRG) for a show in Alabama to mark the opening of the first new steel plant built in the US in 50 years (a 4 billion US Dollar project by Thyssen Krupp).

This was built on a huge scale in a very large facility, notes John Featherstone. “We needed a fixture with significant horsepower to light the structure of the steel plant – and they were more than up to the task.

“With a variety of show elements ranging from business presentations to anti-gravity performers — and a performance by Lynyrd Skynyrd — we needed a fixture that combined finesse with power. The impression XL did that — and more.”

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