After celebrating the New Year with a show and a load-out, we were off for Nashville. I had been in Nashville a few months earlier with “In The Heights” so I knew what to expect. It’s a pretty easy week with a couple of little quirks.
First off, the trucks back up a 17 degree slope to the loading dock. Usually not a major issue for the audio truck. The biggest and heaviest items just get a long rope tied to them and a lot of hands pull it out of the truck. It certainly makes for a very tight pack on the out. One of our scenery trailers, however, had to be jacked up closer to level with a wrecker in order to get some of our larger set pieces out. This is pretty common for this venue.
The second quirk about Nashville is the mix position. It is very far house right to the point where I am actually on the outside of my right tower. This just means I’m really only hearing one box with any sort of directionality and I spend a lot of time walking the room trying to discover how things are translating from the mix position to the rest of the house.
I suppose if we were coming through needing to pick up steel guitar and fiddle players we would do just fine in Nashville. It must be that or else the musicians who can really play are all just doing session work and don’t take the pit gigs because we had a surprisingly rough band. I should clarify that, with a few exceptions, these are still good players. But we’re talking about professional musicians. Expectations are high and I know if I did my job as “poorly” as some of these musicians I wouldn’t be around for very long. After the show, however, I was able to find plenty of great musicianship in many of the local venues.
My mother is a consultant and also travels for work. Every once in a while we end up in the same city at the same time and Nashville happened to be one of those times. I was able to get some tickets for her and some coworkers and they returned the favor with dinner and drinks after the show.
Getting to Houston proved to be quite the adventure. We were scheduled from Nashville to New Orleans and then continuing on to Houston. When we got to New Orleans I checked Houston’s weather on my iPhone and noticed they were under a Tornado Warning. My assumption was that we would stay grounded in NOLA but to my surprise we took off on time. We flew quite a ways out into the gulf to avoid storms and then vectored over Houston for an hour or so before diverting to Austin. After another 30-40 minute wait we were able to take off and land in Houston at 3pm instead of 11:00am.
On a normal jump this would have put us behind for the load-in. But, as you may have already been thinking, Nashville to Houston is quite a haul and the trucks were not even there yet. Now the reasonable and logical solution would be to open on Wednesday and schedule an extra matinee performance during the week to make up the lost show. Instead, the presenters and producers run their voodoo math algorithms and find that it is cheaper to pay extra for an overnight load-in than to risk lost revenue resulting from a non-standard show schedule. What this means is that we show up at 2am Tuesday morning and work straight through to a show on Tuesday night that comes down around 10pm. Meals are usually catered for this type of load-in so you often don’t even leave the building. Luckily these don’t happen too often, although they are becoming more common. Our road contracts are set up in such a way that it doesn’t cost a whole lot extra for them to schedule us this way. We rely on local conditions to make this cost prohibitive.
The audiences loved the show in Houston and I was happy with the way the show sounded in Sarafim Hall at the Hobby Center. I started my training for “In The Heights” in that room a couple years prior but had never mixed a show there.
There isn’t a whole lot to do in downtown Houston but there IS a [url=http://www.beerknurd.com/stores/houston/]Flying Saucer Draught Emporium[/url]. We made several trips over there during our week.