By Ali Mignone, Stage Manager for Strings Music Festival
Concert days at Strings are an ever-shifting grab-bag of variables, and any time you combine territorial technicians, quirky electronic equipment, delicate musical instruments, egos, nerves and jet lag, there’s a really good chance that something will go wrong.
Some of you will remember that we started the Chris Botti show 30 minutes late last year because his traveling sound board died 15 minutes before the show, and we had to replace it with ours and re-patch the entire show’s sound cabling before we could start. It was a pretty major train wreck with nothing to be done about it except move as fast as possible once the disaster struck.
But sometimes we get lucky and disaster passes us by with a wink and a nod, and the audience is never aware that there was a problem at all. If you’ve been to Strings this summer, I hope you were blissfully ignorant of the close calls so far.
Clint Black’s longtime drummer was having surgery, so they brought a substitute drummer. Not only was this the band’s first drummer sub in 30 years, the day of our show was also the sub’s first rehearsal and first performance with the group. He was so terribly nervous backstage that I considered giving him a bucket in case nerves turned into nausea. Then he went onstage and killed it. No bucket required.
One of the two screens on Clint Black’s traveling lighting board went blank during rehearsal/sound check. The crew pulled the computerized guts out of the thing and spent hours poking at it with screwdrivers while talking to tech support on the phone. Despite my skepticism, they got it back together and working again before we opened the house for the audience.
At 6:55pm on Opening Orchestra night, one of the bass players realized that the weird brass fitting and two screws that had mysteriously appeared onstage at dress rehearsal behind his stool were, in fact, from his instrument. With help from our audio/recording intern, Tyler Peyman, the bass was quickly—if a little frantically—repaired and tuned, and we started at 7:02pm with a visibly relieved bass player.
I made a set change before the last piece on Orchestra Opening night and accidentally left two empty music stands behind, right in the middle of the entrance walkway. Conductor Michael Sachs saved my bacon by pointing it out, but I still had to scurry around like a frightened rabbit to try and clear them up before he tripped on my mistake.
Eric, the Fab Four musician who plays Ringo Starr, wears a really good prosthetic nose as part of his makeup. But Eric sweats a lot, and that nose really wanted to be somewhere else by the time the show was done. Another encore would have been a disaster.
Brent Rowan’s concert day is always as pleasant and easy-going as Brent himself. So easy-going, in fact, that it made me nervously wonder at 7:45pm, “What are we forgetting?” In an unusual move for Murphy’s Law, it turns out that we forgot nothing, and no little mishaps occurred moments before show time.
Does it count as a close call if I anxiously await a disaster that never comes?
- Tuesday, July 12, 11am – Andrew & Polly (Youth)
- Wednesday, July 13, 7pm – Cliburn Silver Medalist Joyce Yang (solo piano)
- Thursday, July 14, 12:15pm – Yampa Valley Boys (free, at the Botanic Park)
- Friday, July 15, 8pm – Eilen Jewell (Americana)
- Saturday, July 16, 7pm – Lucia Micarelli (jazz ensemble)
- Sunday, July 17, 7:30pm – C Street Brass and Perry-Mansfield (at Perry-Mansfield campus)
Tickets available at (970) 879-5056 and www.stringsmusicfestival.com.
Ali Mignone stage manages for Strings Music Festival, among other things. When she’s not telling roadies and musicians what to do, you can find her hiking, biking or skiing around the Yampa Valley and blogging at thequirkyquill.com.