SUNRISE, FL – It seems only natural that the Ford F-Series has been a sponsor of Toby Keith tours. Like the country superstar, who’s had 21 No. 1 hits in his storied career, the F-Series has enjoyed longstanding success. In fact, it’s been the best-selling truck in America for 35 years running. Production designers Seth Jackson and Elizabeth O’Keefe (TPI, St. Louis) drew on this connection when creating the lightshow for Keith’s 2015 “Good Times and Pick Up Lines” tour. Playing off the buzz created by Ford’s new all-aluminum F-150 truck, the LD came up with a sleek high-tech look for the tour, built around a series of pantographs illuminated by Legend 230SR Beams from CHAUVET Professional.
“Since the tour was again sponsored by the Ford F-150 we took a cue from their playbook,” said Jackson, who has worked with Keith for many years. “Ford was coming out with a new, all-aluminum F-150 this year, so we went for a high-tech approach ourselves, and based the design around pantographs that had video and lighting attached to them to give a high-tech and varied look to the show. The Legends are incorporated into the pantographs and help give us the big ‘rock’ looks that have been so successful at Toby’s shows.”
Jackson has arranged six 6 sets of three Legend fixtures provided by Bandit Lites with his pantographs. Moving the fixtures throughout the entire concert, he relies on them to create large graphic looks that reflect the spirit of Keith’s show. The speed of the Legend fixtures allows him to get “more mileage” by using fewer fixtures in his rig.
“The brightness and speed of the Legends have made a big impact on the look of the show,” he said. “These are also very versatile fixtures, which helps our lighting budget. You can take a very tight beam, throw in a gobo and the prism and get the same kind of coverage as you would a much larger format fixture. Basically, the Legends are insanely bright and have a great beam quality about them.”
Controlled by a pair of grandMA2 Ultra-Lights, the Toby Keith tour rig includes a variety of moving washes and spots in addition to the Legend units. “We create throwback looks with some of our movers, but we rely on the Legends to interact with the pantographs, allowing us to convey a sense of high-tech excitement,” said Jackson. “The Legends were part of our focal point. They gave us the big looks we wanted.”
Maintaining a rigorous touring schedule with stops that have included everything from amphitheaters to state fairs and casinos, the tour has presented some challenges to Eddie “Bones” Connell, co-lighting designer, Cody Stoltz, programmer and Ashley Swan, production manager, according to Jackson. “The variation in venues required a lot of deliberate planning, with Ashley having to make sure we knew exactly what the rig would be on those days when the full system simply wasn’t an option,” said the LD. “Eddie and Cody have worked magic making the show run smoothly stop after stop. We were also greatly aided by Mike Golden at Bandit Lites who somehow helps me pull this off year after year – and Mark Sissel who coordinates all of our production elements and deals with the Ford integration.”
As an added contribution to the tour, Connell and Stoltz were instrumental in demonstrating the value of the Legend fixtures to Jackson. “Eddie and Cody helped instill us with a lot of confidence in the Legends,” said the LD. “They put those fixtures through some intense paces. As Eddie would say he tried to ‘spin the heads off’ the Legends. He never did.” Like the Ford F-Series trucks, the Legends proved to be powerful, rugged and road worthy.”