AUSTIN, TX – The heart of old school West Texas Country beats loud and strong at the Nutty Brown Café & Amphitheatre. Nestled in the rolling hills between Austin and Dripping Springs on Highway 290, the 4,000-capacity venue is a Red Dirt country music icon, much like Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge is for the Nashville variety. Dwight Yoakam and Clint Black have performed here, so have Merle Haggard and Randy Rogers. On a typical evening, the combination restaurant/bar and outdoor theater is packed to the rafters with men, women and children of all ages wearing cowboy hats and jeans swaying to the music.
Hailing from Texas themselves, the popular Eli Young Band has a special affinity for “Nutty’s.” So when they stopped at the legendary establishment on their Turn It On Tour, they wanted to add extra visual excitement to their show. The band got the revved up look it was hoping for, when its lighting designer Dave Carr added 24 Next NXT-1 moving LED panels from CHAUVET Professional to his rig for the Nutty Brown stop.
“The Eli Young Band was founded in Texas, so when our tour routes through there, we regard it as something very special, which is why we really wanted to up the level of production for these shows. The NXT-1s provided a great opportunity to do this,” said Carr. “These fixtures were suggested to us by Josh Peikert and Erich Meitzner of Hoopty Lights, our preferred Midwest-based lighting vendor. We already have the Chauvet Nexus 4×4 on our rig, so this was a natural jump.
“Getting to pixel map these fixtures for a one off at Nutty Brown was a challenging and rewarding experience,” continued the LD. “Erich and I worked together on coming up with a layout that really showed off the NXT panels as well as complemented my floor package that we currently carry. The color mixing and control capabilities were fantastic, which really helped make things smooth.”
Winners of an Academy of Country Music Award with three Number One hits to their credit, the Eli Young Band has attracted a large and loyal following since the band was started in Denton, Texas, thanks to its robust, thunderous sound and open, engaging stage presence. The intensity and quick movements of the Next NXT-1 fixtures provided an ideal visual accompaniment to the band’s rollicking hard-driving performance. Like the band’s heady riffs, the light from these moving LED panels is intense, engaging and lots of fun.
Carr flew the Next NXT-1 panels along two upstage truss runs. The 12 panels on the lower truss ran across the entire stage in a single line, while the 12 on the upper line were divided into two groups of six, flanking a group of color bars over the drum riser. Pixel mapped chase scenes across all 24 panels provide engaging looks. At other points in the concert, the panels were used as blinders and as spots to highlight individual band member performances.
“We positioned the NXT-1s to give us an amazing upstage pixel mapped wall,” elaborated Carr. “With the limited trim height and load in schedule we had, this was the most efficient way to go. Stephen Pavlik, Ely Gonzales, Tracy Crenshaw, and the rest of the EYB Production and tour staff did heroic work helping us get this rig up quickly.”
Carr also praised the versatility of the Next NXT-1 panels. “The NXT-1s were in different fixed positions all night in addition to being used as moving panels,” he said. “The pan and tilt on these fixtures was not only impressive in terms of range, but also extremely fast, which fit the tempo of our show. We ran 208 volts to all of the fixtures and controlled everything through a grandMa2 Lite and a NPU provided by Morris Light and Sound. All networking was handled via Luminex GigaCore network switches.”
The Eli Young Band brought down the house at the Nutty Brown Café & Amphitheatre. It’s safe to assume they’ll be back performing to a full house again. When they do, it’s also a good bet that their rig will include the Next NXT-1 panels. “The NXT-1s were excellent,” said Carr. “We’re certainly interested in them for our Spring/Summer 2016 tour.”
Photos by Philip Haney