With the band
Hitting the road with a cappella power group Straight No Chaser
For the next few months, and maybe even beyond, I have the opportunity to be the lighting director for the popular a cappella group, Straight No Chaser, which has a recording deal with Atlantic Records and some hugely popular YouTube videos (one of their videos has more than 11 million views). I'll be going all over the United States, part of Canada and, maybe next spring, different parts of the world on this tour.
With around 60 shows in as many cities, there are bound to be interesting stories and adventures that manifest themselves and I'll be sharing them with CultureMap readers in a series of exclusive reports from the cappella road.
One might wonder what connection Straight No Chaser has to Houston.
I am a native Houstonian, born and raised. I went to school here, university here, I even taught in Katy for a short stint. Plus, Charlie Mechling, one of the performers is currently calling Houston home after marrying a native Houstonian. Charlie is originally from Indiana, as are all of the guys. They met at Indiana University where the group first formed.
There might be some tense moments on the tour when the Indianapolis Colts are a few games back of the Houston Texans in the AFC South late in the season. But I digress.
Being a native Houstonian is how I ended up with this job. I was fortunate enough to attend the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts where I not only met CultureMap president Nic Phillips, but was also able to build a strong friendship with Julia Krohn, now the wife of the previously mentioned Charlie, one of two bass singers in the group. While I was at HSPVA and while I received my BA in theater from the University of Houston, I was able to work in many different venues and theaters around town as well as do some shows in Cincinnati and at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.
This isn’t meant to be a resume (unless you are hiring) but just a bit of background of how I was able to accumulate the knowledge needed in order to be the lighting director for a popular national tour.
Some of the fun that guys like me have in this business is when a group of professionals can get together, plan, brainstorm and then realize some of the ideas we share. This recently all came together in Nashville when we finally had our package of lighting and sound equipment for the tour end up in one room so that the tech nerds could assemble, erect and play with “toys” that we will get to know oh so well once we are on the road.
The lighting for this show is brand new and the instruments we are using have only been on the market for a few months. That makes this experience that much sweeter.
Being the new guy is going to be a challenge for the tour. It goes hand and hand with the preparation and lack of knowledge I have regarding the simple things. I have no clue what to pack. Where will I shower? How are my clothes going to get cleaned? Should I even bring a pillow?
However, I do know that the number one rule on a tour bus is no number two. And this might be one of the biggest challenges in the grand scheme of things.
As far as something that will be challenge regarding the job, it will, without a doubt, be the crews in each venue. Managing a new group of crew members night after night will be a daunting task that I hope somehow turns into a piece of cake. I am sure that for every piece of cake I might have during this tour, there will be some Brussels sprouts to get rid of that sweet flavor.
I know that there will be some bumps in the road in some of the smaller venues we perform in due to the experience level of some of the crews. It’s one thing to go to New York and Chicago, but it’s another to go to Salina, Kan. and Cupertino, Calif.
Don't you want to come along?
See Straight No Chaser doing their thing: