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Lighting designer Joshua Schultz goes full-Ayrton for The Turnpike Troubadours’ US Tour

Dec 22, 2023

Country-bluegrass band The Turnpike Troubadours are continuing their hit US “A Cat in the Rain Tour” with Ayrton Zonda 9 FX and Zonda 3 FX LED moving head washes, Bora LED beams and washes, and Khamsin LED profiles dominating the rig. ACT Entertainment is the exclusive distributor of Ayrton lighting in North America.

The tour, which kicked off last summer, follows the August release of the band’s album of the same name.  It wraps at the iconic Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth, Texas just before New Year’s Eve.

Nashville-based independent lighting designer and programmer Joshua Schultz has been working with The Turnpike Troubadours for the last two years.  In designing the tour he wanted to “keep the focus on the band and not go over the top with a gigantic rig.  We have to be able to scale to the size of the venue, which ranges from 5,000-seat theatres to 14,000-seat arenas.”

Schultz also wanted “an entire rig of Ayrton fixtures,” a goal he achieved with the exception of strobes.  “I was introduced to Ayrton fixtures when I worked with Morpheus and used them on a lot of tours when the company was primarily making effects lighting.  Now they have broadened their range of fixtures, and I really enjoy their products.  I was able to get everything I needed from SES for awesome, one-stop-shop convenience.”

The production marks the first time that Schultz is using these particular Ayrton fixtures.  The stage is designed with an upstage straight truss; a split upstage number two truss for band backlight; six fingers angled at 40º in a V-shape; a split downstage for front light, audience light and effects; four upstage truss carts; and floor lights on the deck.

“The Zondas are key to what I wanted to do, the look I was going for,” he explains.  “I was curious about their output and intriguing LiquidEffect, and when I saw the lights I was sold on them.  I haven’t seen an LED fixture with that much output before, and I like how tight the beam can get.”

Schultz selected 24 Zonda 9 FX for the rig.  Four are mounted on the upstage number two truss for band backlight; eight are downstage and act as washes; eight more are in the fingers; and four are in the drape truss.  

Recently, he added 24 Zonda 3 FX to the tour.  “I wanted a baby version of the Zonda 9s, and they’ve gone beyond my expectations with their zoom and punch.  I wasn’t sure how they would stack up with everything else, but they are punchy little guys – I love them!”  Four of the Zonda 3s are mounted on 10-foot sticks on GT truss; the rest are positioned across each of the trusses.

“I become more of a fan of the Zondas the more I use them,” Schultz says.  “I discover how I can build more and more looks with their colours and intensity.  

“It’s also nice to have an all-Ayrton rig so I know everything will be uniform; it’s a massive value having all the fixtures within the Ayrton family.”  He cites “Diamonds & Gasoline” as one song which especially showcases the Ayrton fixtures.  “It’s a very intimate song with the lead singer and steel player.  The rig turns red, and we paint the entire arena with all the fixtures and use a gobo to play off the crowd with a mirror ball look.”

In addition to the Zondas, Schultz chose 21 Bora fixtures “as the main punch light – it’s a wash but also a great effects fixture.”  Four are mounted upstage to light the band’s album logo backdrop, 13 are on the mid-rig fingers to cover the stage and four are downstage for crowd effects and key light.  “I was told the Boras would complement the Khamsins well, and that’s very true,” he reports.

Schultz has 28 Khamsins to assure him of the punch he needs in any size venue.  They are mounted on the V-shaped fingers where they deliver his “go-to scenic looks with gobos and paint the stage, drapes and band.”

“ACT has definitely been supportive whenever I need them,” he notes, and he gives SES kudos for bolstering its inventory with a wide range of Ayrton products.  “This tour was my opportunity to go full-Ayrton, and I’ve been very pleased with the results.”

More information on the full portfolio of innovative Ayrton LED and laser-sourced products can be found at www.ayrton.eu 

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