16th Annual Parnelli Awards

by FOH Staff
in Features
16th Annual Parnelli Awards photo by Richard Crews
16th Annual Parnelli Awards photo by Richard Crews

The 16th Annual Parnelli Awards was on track to be its typical high-energy, funny, and emotional show … and then Tom Petty surprised the audience by taking the podium. He flew in himself and 11 members of the Heartbreaker family to give accolades to his long time tour manager, Richard Fernandez, who received the live events highest honor, the Parnelli Lifetime Achievement Award.

“I never knew anyone who didn’t admire him to the bottom of their soul,” said Petty of Fernandez, noting how the East L.A. native was lucky to have “really good parents who raised a really good man.”

Tom Petty and Richard Fernandez at the 2016 Parnelli Awards

Petty said how he was impressed by Fernandez after first meeting him because he “talked about music the way cats who know music talk about music.” And that love of good music played out in the course of Fernandez’s career, which included gigs with Faces, the New Barbarians and Eagles, among others.

Tom Petty at the 2016 Parnelli Awards

“There were no sh**ty bands on the whole gig,” Petty said, noting how Fernandez’s musical tastes shaped his career choices — a fact underscored by the young tour manager’s willingness to cut a deal with manager Tony Dimitriades to join the Petty camp as Tom and the Heartbreakers were first making their mark. (Dimitrades was in the audience as well.)

Adrian Belew at the 2016 Parnelli Awards

Starting on a High Note

After the popular cocktail party (which featured a silent auction) and dinner, Adrian Belew took the stage, and it turns out his skills as an emcee and comedian rivals his artistry on the guitar. He came out with guitar in hand, and enthusiastically announced he’d been waiting all his life for this, and launched into a cool version of his “Three of A Perfect Pair” song.

Stage manager Jeff Van Duyn came out to tell host Adrian Belew that the event was not, in fact, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Midway through, stage manager Jeff Van Duyn came out and whispered in his ear. The funny bit had him crestfallen upon discovery that the Parnelli Awards stage wasn’t, in fact, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Then he announced: “How was I supposed to know? It’s a room full of old dudes, so it sure looked like one of my concerts!” (Ouch!)

Belew blew apart any pretense of decorum with his story of meeting Frank Zappa’s long-haired five-year-old son, who promptly flipped him the bird and gave him a loud “F*** You” after Adrian mistakenly referred to the trike-riding tyke as Zappa’s daughter. He continued entertaining with stories, including how David Bowie “stole” him from Zappa, while handing out awards.

Stuart Delk, Monitor Mixer of the Year

His first went to Stuart Delk for Monitor Mixer of the Year and his work with Rascal Flatts. Delk gave a moving thank you to his wife, and all the spouses in the house who are “road widows” and take on the extra burden of one married to someone who makes his or her living driving around the country putting on shows.

Marshall Bissett at the 2016 Parnelli Awards

Parnelli Chairman of the Board of Advisors, Marshall Bissett, next took the stage, telling some funny stories including one involving Parnelli namesake Rick “Par-nelli” O’Brien, a 1978 Queen tour in Germany, and some not particularly well-thought-out pyro bit.

Ted Maccabe and Grant Sellers from Strictly FX, Pyro company of the year.

“At a point in the song, I was to stamp my foot on to the British 15 amp plug and socket connection and hope for the best. It worked, and we only singed a little of Brian May’s hair.” Noting that pyro had thankfully gotten more than a bit more sophisticated and safer, he handed out the Best Pyro Company of the Year Award to Strictly FX for their work with Justin Bieber’s tour.

Terry Lowe, Parnelli Awards executive producer and publisher of FRONT of HOUSE

Terry Lowe came up making jokes about how the Parnelli is really “the high school prom of the production industry,” and poked fun at the three lifetime honorees before thanking the 30-plus sponsors, who made the evening possible. He also plugged the must-attend after party hosted by Pyrotek which featured trampoline aerialists and free drinks.

Kiki Ebsen at the 2016 Parnelli Awards

Touching Moments

Along with other poignant moments, including the live vocals of Kiki Ebsen singing Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” during the In Memoriam reel, the evening had its raucous moments and unexpected twists, including the merciless roasting of Parnelli visionary Danny O’Bryen by former Parnelli Lifetime achiever and old friend Charlie Hernandez (2012).

Former Lifetime Achievers Charlie Hernandez and Jake Berry provided a memorable presentation for Parnelli Visionary Danny O'Bryen

Hernandez, who grew up in the same Long Island neighborhood as O’Bryen, though they didn’t meet until they were adults, had a great deal of fun at Danny’s expense. “His motto is, if two wrongs don’t make a right, try three.” There was also this: “Danny, you’re like Tang — you’re dry and orange, and nobody has given a [***k] about you since 1976.” He then launched a touching tribute to O’Bryen, talking directly to his wife Marcene and his children Nick and Cody: “Good people will not compromise their integrity by betraying a trust or undermine a friendship for the sake of a few dollars more. He is that man.”

Mick Whelan and Stanley Miller

And before Audio Innovator Greg Mackie came out on stage to hint at yet another audio innovation that will be appearing on the market soon, fellow Audio Innovator award winner Stanley Miller (2009) poked fun at himself by coming out to the stage masked as a dinosaur.

FOH Magazine editor George Petersen and Greg Mackie, 2016 Parnelli Audio Innovator of the Year

Then FRONT of HOUSE editor George Petersen took the stage to pay tribute to Mackie, a guy whose innovations has touched so many bringing quality, working sound consoles at a price accessible to the up and coming bands that embraced them. “Here is a guy who created one of the largest, most successful companies in professional audio, and he did it with style and concern for his employees and customers,” Petersen said.

PLSN editor Nook Schoenfeld, teamed up with Kristie Roldan this year to present the honors to others.

Speaking of editors, later PLSN editor Nook Schoenfeld took the stage with lighting designer Kristie Roldan to hand out some big awards. In addition to joking about what it takes for a lighting designer to make it through a grueling LDI show (narcotics, guns, etc.), Schoenfeld got to give a call out to O’Bryen, whom he got to work with in his early days.

“I met the wildest partying guys I have ever toured with in my life, and of course they were all employed by Danny O’Bryen at B.C.C. [pre-cursor to his Screenworks company].” The pair gave out the Lighting Director of the Year award to Michael Keller for his work with Black Sabbbath, among others.

Mark 'Springo' Spring

The evening of ended with production manager Mark “Springo” Spring taking the podium to hand out some of the biggest awards of the night. Matt Askem won Video Director of the Year for his work on Adele; Sound Image won Sound Company of the Year; Phil Ealy won Lighting Designer of the Year for his work on the successful Guns N’ Roses tour; and the Patrick Stansfield Tour Manager of the Year went to Angie Warner of Imagine Dragons.

In a taped acceptance speech she sent in, Wagner said was getting on a plane to head to South America for Guns N’ Roses, “…or I’d be there with you drinking heavily. But can you please double check to see that that award does not say Marty Hom?” (It should be noted in an industry that is heavily male dominated, Warner was one of three women chosen by PLSN and FOH readers to take home major Parnelli Awards, the other two being Es Devlin for her Set/Scenic work with Adele and Sara Full for production managing The Lumineers.)

Tom Petty and Richard Fernandez at the 2016 Parnelli Awards

Petty Won’t Back Down

From the Parnelli stage, Petty noted how, when everything comes together, there can be a co-mingling of artistic expression and audience appreciation that bor-ders on the sacred. “God is in that,” Petty said, capping an evening of appreciation for what makes the live events industry so unique.

Amid plaudits for a “humbled and joyous” Richard Fernandez, who was draped in ceremonial leaves from Hawaii, Tom Petty also voiced his appreciation for the ceremony itself. “I’m glad this forum exists,” he said, noting how his monitor mixer might have just “saved the show,” and he’s the only one who knows. After the show, Fernandez told the show producers: “This was the most memorable night of my career.”

And although Petty, at 66, may be contemplating retirement, he’s not quite done with touring. “I’m not quitting until Richard does,” he announced.

And the Winners Are:

2016 Parnelli Lifetime Achievement Award
Richard Fernandez

2016 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Richard Fernandez

2016 Parnelli Visionary Award
Danny O'Bryen

2016 Parnelli Visionary Award Winner Danny O'Bryen

2016 Parnelli Audio Innovator
Greg Mackie

2016 Parnelli Audio Innovator Greg Mackie

  • Lighting Company of the Year
  • Bandit Lites | Garth Brooks at Yankee Stadium

Bandit Lites' DizzyGosnell, MichaelStrickland and Michael Golden with the 2016 Parnelli Award for Lighting Company of the Year

  • Hometown Hero Lighting Company of the Year
  • TLS Productions (Ann Arbor, MI)

TLS Productions' Brad Hayes with the Parnelli for 2016 Hometown Hero Lighting Company of the Year. Behind him is presenter Asher Benrubi and hostess Joyce Jones.

  • Lighting Designer of the Year
  • Phil Ealy | Guns N' Roses

Phil Ealy, 2016 Parnelli Lighting Designer of the Year

  • Lighting Director of the Year
  • Michael Keller | Black Sabbath

Michael Keller, 2016 Parnelli Lighting Director of the Year

  • Set/Scenic Designer of the Year
  • Es Devlin | Adele
  • Sound Company of the Year
  • Sound Image | Brad Paisley

Sound Image won Sound Company of the Year. Dave Shadoan accepted the award.

  • Hometown Hero Sound Company of the Year
  • Rainbow Production Services (Atkinson, NH)

Rainbow's Hollis 'Jib' Clark with the 2016 Hometown Hero Sound Company of the Year award.

  • FOH Mixer of the Year
  • Richard Sharratt/Howard Page | Peter Gabriel/Sting

Pro audio veterans Mick Whelan and Stanley Miller teamed up to bestow some of the awards at the 2016 Parnelli ceremony.

  • Monitor Mixer of the Year
  • Stuart Delk | Rascal Flatts

Stuart Delk won a Parnelli for Monitor Mixer of the Year.

  • Audio System Tech of the Year
  • Jeremy Overall | Rascal Flatts

Jeremy Overall, Audio System Tech of the Year

  • Video Production Company of the Year
  • Screenworks | Guns N' Roses

Screenworks' Nick O'Bryen, Randy Mayer and Marty Kell with the 2016 award for Video Production Company of the Year.

  • Video Director of the Year
  • Matt Askem | Adele

 Es Devlin, set designer, and Matt Askem, video director, both garnered Parnelli plaudits for Adele's tour visuals.

  • Staging Company of the Year
  • Mountain Productions | CMA Music Festival

Mountain Productions' Ricky Rose with the 2016 Parnelli for Staging Company of the Year

  • Rigging Company of the Year
  • Stage Rigging | Neil Diamond

Stage Rigging's Chris Schmidt with the 2016 Parnelli for Rigging Company of the Year

  • Set Construction Company of the Year
  • Tait Towers | Beyoncé

Tait's Ted Moore accepted the 2016 Parnelli for Set Construction Company of the Year.

  • Pyro Company of the Year
  • Strictly FX | Justin Bieber

Ted Maccabe and Grant Sellers from Strictly FX accepted the 2016 Parnelli for Pyro Company of the Year

  • Patrick Stansfield Tour Manager of the Year
  • Angie Warner | Imagine Dragons

 FRONT of HOUSE editor George Petersen presented several Parnelli honors this year.

  • Patrick Stansfield Production Manager of the Year
  • Sara Full | The Lumineers

Sara Full was out on tour but accepted the 2016 Patrick Stansfield Production Manager of the Year award via video feed.

  • Coach Company of the Year
  • Hemphill Brothers

Joey Hemphill with the 2016 Parnelli Award for Coach Company of the Year.

  • Trucking Company of the Year
  • Upstaging

Upstaging's Jen Clark and Evan Lawrence with the 2016 award for Trucking Company of the Year

  • Freight Forwarding Company of the Year
  • Rock-It Cargo

Rock-it Cargo's David Bernstein returned to the Parnelli stage for the 2016 Freight Forwarding Company of the Year.

  • Indispensable Technology - Audio
  • Eastern Acoustic Works | Anna Line Array

EAW's Rusty Waite (left) and Bernie Broderick with the Indispensable Technology Audio award.

  • Indispensable Technology - Video
  • ROE Creative Display | Vanish 25 LED tiles

Roe Creative Display won the IT award in the Video category. Frank Montero accepted the award.

  • Indispensable Technology - Lighting
  • Robe | BMFL WashBeam

Robe's Bob Schacherl with the IT award in the Lighting product category.

  • Indispensable Technology - Staging
  • Stageline | Followspot and Delay Tower

Stageline's Yves Miron with the IT Staging award at the 2016 Parnelli gala.

Photos by Ric Crews and Jacob Coakley

For a look at the people behind the production of the 2016 Parnelli Awards, CLICK HERE