Thursday, January 31, 2008

My favorite line of the day

So, Jocko the Video guy switches a computer to the screen and it is flickering like crazy!
Kevin and I look at the image and both of us are wondering what the deal is.
Jocko ignores it and finally Kevin and I ask... "what's the deal with the image flickering?"

Jocko looks up and says:

"Well.. it must not like the color of the lines"

and then.. Jocko goes back to playing on his laptop.

Do you get a full day rate when you answer a question like that.. or are you required to give a discount?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Grapevine TX

As my friend said... "Ah, Grapevine.... A City built because there was no more room in Dallas"
I flew into DFW Saturday night, nice and foggy. They put me up at the DFW Hyatt. The Hyatt is a very nice hotel that has had a facelift. I went to the bar and ordered a beer and a club sandwich and brought it back to my room. The next morning, I retrieved our cases from the hotel and went to the loading dock to meet the truck. We drove over to the Hilton Lakes Conference Center and Loaded in. I set up the client office and got them printing and connected to the Internet. The rest of the crew was not scheduled to arrive until late afternoon, so, instead of just sitting around, I set up the screen, pipe and drape and then my audio system. Just for the record, it is not easy setting up a 9' x 12' Fastfold rear screen with full dress kit by yourself. It takes a bit of engineering to figure out what cases you need to prop the screen up with and some drape poles.
So, around 5:00 pm the security guard was to arrive and then I was going to get some dinner. Around 6:00 pm, there was no security guard, so I called the hotel security and they sent someone up to talk with me. 
This guy tells me that he saw the security schedule that we had requested, posted on their board in the office, but that none of them would volunteer for the shifts because they don't think that the hotel is paying them fairly. My jaw dropped.... Lets not even talk about the pay thing yet... This guy just told me that they basically ignored our order and never told us!
After listening to this guy.. lets call him Jocko... Jocko tells me that if they work the shift, the hotel pays them $18.00 per hour, but if the hotel sources it to an outside company then they pay the outside company $30.00 per hour. So, the Jocko crew refuses to accept the shifts because they want to screw the hotel.  $18.00 PER HOUR... to sit in a room... listen to your iPod... Read a book... that night was worth $252.00 for doing absolutely nothing but sitting around!  I was trying not to be the problem client... and I figured at this point... I am just not getting a guard for the night.  So, I ask Jocko to lock the doors to the ballroom. He tells me that he has to make me aware of something, and we walk to the door that leads to the service hallway. The door is broken, and he says he can't lock it. 
Great... so, I push some heavy road cases in front of it, and he chains and padlocks the main doors. So, I say good night and go to my room. Around 9:00 pm, Kevin calls me and tells me that he needs a monitor out of the room. I went down and called Jocko and asked him to unlock the room for me. As I walk into the room, the airwall has been opened, and the doors in the back that I had pushed my cases in front of, are wide open. Jocko walks into the room, and I tell him that this is totally unacceptable! He just looks at me and says he doesn't know what to tell me. So, I tell him to get the Manager on Duty up here. 
The MOD shows up and I read him the riot act... I didn't yell or raise my voice, but I gave it to him good! 
The interesting.. yet sad commentary is that... I was totally right.. I had a bullet proof argument. I am the client... they can't say no to me.... and yet... there still was no security guard posted.  They apologized... got the back door locked... Said that they would check the room every hour... but they just refused to do whatever it took to provide the guard that we had ordered... the one that they said they would provide... the one that we were paying for. 

So, if you are going to train an MOD for a hotel.... apparently... the customer is not always right... you don't have to say yes... you don't have to follow through on what you said you would provide, and lastly... you can always push it back on the customer, and still collect the money.

The Load Out

So, the Band finished playing around 9:30 pm and we struck like mad.
The push to the truck wasn't bad, but the truck had two shows of gear in it. I ended up being the guy in the truck playing three dimensional Tetris. I was packing it floor to ceiling stuffing cases in every whole as tight as I could get it. The end of the truck was coming up fast and there was still a ton of cases sitting out there. Long story short.... there was no more room for even another piece of a cart in there. We finished the load out around 1:00 am and then I left the hotel on a 6:00 am shuttle to the airport. A very short night of sleep for me. Good news... I slept solidly on the plane, and got home right on time. Slept for a few hours in the afternoon, and life was good.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I had a good time at Disney... No Really.. I did!

My friends sister is the manager of this dueling piano bar called Jellyrolls. I was really REALLY skeptical. Dueling Pianos???? The Fabulous Baker Boys came to mind.. but the chances that Michelle Pheifer was going to be laying across the pianos was probably not going to happen! I got off work at 5:00 and chilled in the room for a little while till I got hungry. I called Matt and he was already over hanging out at the Piano bar, so I grabbed a cab... 2 miles = 16 bucks.
I showed up VIP Style with my name on the guest list at the door, Thanks Matt... And they don't start till 8:00 PM. I am starving. I walked down the boardwalk and found a little pizza vendor. Two slices and a soda for $9.50 Thats cool.. I thought I was going to have to spend $30.00 at the ESPN zone and take an hour. 
I go back to hang out with Matt, and meet his sister Vanice. She is super sweet... just a really nice girl. She introduces us to one of the piano players Mike, and he is about the nicest guy you ever met. He tells us that " it is SO GREAT to Meet you!!!!" I was like... whoa... easy tiger... 
anyway.. the deal at the Jellyroll is that they do the entire show based on Audience requests. And you can request anything. By the time the second set happened and the booze was taking it's effect... The place was slammin, and packed to the gills. I have never laughed so hard listening to piano players, but these guys were rockin! They were entirely hysterical in their banter with each other and the audience, and they handled just about every request that they got. Everything from Neil Diamond's Cherry Cherry (complete with a gravely Neil D. Voice) to GnR's Sweet Child of mine, Meatloaf's Paradise by the Dashboard Light, but the epic was Queen's  Bohemian Rhapsody.... well.. maybe it was Sir Mix a Lot's Baby got Back! I don't think I am doing a good job conveying how amazing this show was. But if you can imagine two dudes on stage jamming out hits on Pianos, beatboxing and cranking out.. "I like Big Butts and I can not lie" With 400 people singing along at the top of our lungs... You might get a little bit of a picture of this show. Anyway.. I highly recommend Jellyrolls if you are stuck at Disney. It was the first time I have been here and actually had a good time.. no.. A GREAT time. Here is just a little sample of the show.


General Session Fun

So, I got a GREAT night's Sleep. Thank you Advil PM. General Session is going really well, Everyone is hitting their cues and the video they showed really added to the meeting. At 9:30 AM the security guy rolls into the room and whispers something to the producer type guy. next thing you know, the producer guy walks up the aisle and interrupts the presenter and says something to the effect of...."there is a fire in the hotel and we need to evacuate immediately!"
Wow... not just a fire drill... an actual fire! So, there is a fire exit directly behind my mix position, and we turn off the mics and step out into the warm Florida Sun. 
The group is standing all around the parking lot and someone realizes that they should take a role call of all our people to ensure everyone is out of the hotel. So, they herd us all into this huge tent in the parking lot, and ask everyone to write their name on a pad of paper. At this point, I realize that it might be helpful if the big cheeses could talk to the people and I remember that I have a powered speaker sitting right inside the door by my mix position. Larry and I snuck back into the burning building and grabbed the speaker and a mic, and head back to the tent. The Hotel Security wasn't very happy with us for sneaking back in, but they don't understand that we are about to save the day! In less then 3 minutes, we rocked the setup out, complete with gaffe taped cabling, and hand the mic over to the cheeses. Ladies and Gentlemen... We now are back in General Session. They finish out the last two presenters, and everyone is happy! We saved the world!
Later that day.. the hotel left a voicemail to all the guests explaining what had happened. If you want to hear it.. I posted it here.


Orlando FL America's Play Ground

Ah Yes, Orlando. Big big hair and make-up applied with a trowel the size of a snow shovel. The smell of people-fat and insecticide. Not enough beer and the world to make Orlando look good in bed. This is Scotty's synopsis of this town, and I couldn't agree more! I got down here on Sunday bright and early... 9:00 am flight, on the Florida soil by 11:15, and a driver standing at the baggage claim escalator with my name on a sign to take me off to the hotel so I can start working. 12:15 PM.... Ready to work.. but there is another group in the room, so we grabbed some lunch and payed 20 bucks for a Club Sandwich. Welcome to Disney World. 
3:00 PM, Meet to unload the truck and find out that 9:30 PM is more likely, because thats when the existing convention is going to load out. Time to get some food, watch the Giants win over Green Bay and get a nice night sleep for a 6:00 AM wake up call. 
4:00 AM... Still laying here in the dark wide awake... haven't gotten a wink of sleep. Alarms are set for 6:00 AM. I am totally in trouble. 
1.5 hours of sleep, and 30 minutes of hitting the snooze button... I feel like I am going to drop. We unloaded the truck and did the setup, and all I want to do is get to my bed. The setup and rehearsals finally ended at 9:00 PM and we grabbed the last bit of food off the clients dinner. Time to sleep (with a little help from Advil PM to make sure it works this time)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

January Work

I am headed to Orlando on Sunday for 5 days to do a follow up show to Memphis. After that, I am off to Dallas. These are two of my least favorite cities to work in. At least it isn't Chicago in the winter. It is a high of 65 in Orlando today, and  supposedly a high of 64 in Dallas. The hotel in Dallas is supposedly really close to the airport. the good news is, it will be a cheap taxi ride from the airport. The bad news... There is going to be nothing to do while we are there without paying 50 bucks to get downtown. I got word yesterday that Beijing is back on!
The dates are:
Travel - February 24, 2008
Set - February 28-29, 2008
Show -  March 1-2, 2008
Travel - March 3, 2008

This should be very exciting. I have to do some research as I have not been to China!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

New Tools

I am working on my website, and have created a "Tools" page. On here, you will find Audio Visual related tools. Such as Speaker Timers, Alignment Power Points, and Wireless Microphone Frequency guides. Check them out and let me know if you have something I should put up there!

Click on the Tools link

Memphis Wrap up

Ok, So, the show in Memphis went well... nothing outstanding in my mind to write about except this:
When you are working at an old hotel, even if it is restored or just extremely nice, the tell tale sign is the load-in! We had to push gear, off the loading dock, through an exhibit hall, up a hallway with a ramp, around a corner, down a hallway, onto a freight elevator, up 1 floor, then down a hallway, around a corner, out onto the carpet in the public space, then down a ramp and finally into the ballroom. They just didn't know how to design the inside space of hotels back then.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Day one in Memphis

Well... I got up this morning at 4:45 am and headed to the airport for a 7:00 am flight. Landed in Memphis around 8:00 am Memphis time, and there was a driver standing in baggage claim with a sign that had my name on it. I Got to the hotel and was surprised that they had a room available for me to check in.
Nice hotel... A little old school with tiny rooms, but nice anyway.
Found the guys and then found out that we aren't going to really load in until noon. 
So, I am sitting in the office watching people trying to get ready for the cheeses to arrive. hurry up and wait.
The ballroom is super wide, and it is going to be interesting.

more to come

Friday, January 4, 2008

When it Rains... It Pours

Well... Amazingly enough, I have been offered 5 gigs this month.
I am headed to Memphis TN the 6th through the 10th, and Orlando the 20th through the end of the month.
I received a call today from a producer that I met almost a year and a half ago. Nice guy.. but it didn't seem like it was going to produce any work. Then, today I got a phone call from him and he offered me 5 days in Greenville SC. I was already booked in Orlando, so I had to turn him down. Thats just no fun at all.... I hope he tries to get me on another show soon!

So, at the end of the day... January looks like it is rockn. Go 2008!