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Brad Paisley Presents Full Production Show at Moo TV’s Steel Mill

Kevin M. Mitchell • News • May 19, 2020

Along with full audio production, the show included a blast of confetti.

NASHVILLE – And so there was Brad Paisley last Friday night, playing an arena show with his full production. “It’s so great playing live music with my band,” he says as the second song starts. “Welcome to the Bud Light Seltzer Sessions … I hope you’re safe. We’re going to have us a blast.” The first known post-shut down full-production concert had a couple of differences: The arena was MooTV’s The Steel Mill; otherwise it was just missing one thing: A live audience – although scrolling through the comments, many viewers felt they were there – in the front row.

The concert featured opening act Lady Antebellum and was live-streamed Friday May 15. The show still lives on- on YouTube where it’s been viewed by 1.3 million people in 48  hours. (To watch, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UT3fPJlgWcY). The rehearsal space looked great and the event has been declared a success by every measurable way. “I know the intimate concerts from an artist performing in their living room that have been streamed have been nice, but I’ve believed that there has been an appetite for something bigger, and we wanted to be the ones who brought it.” said MooTV/The Steel Mill owner Scott Scovill.

Images by Jeff Wedding

Scovill started thinking about where the virus was going to take the country and our industry in general just when COVID-19 and the full ramifications started breaking across the country. Longtime client Paisley was up touring in Canada and was one of the last tours to be shut down. “When Brad got back to Nashville, we talked, and I told him he was our last act on the road. He then said, ‘well, mark my words, I will be the first one back.’”

The event was orchestrated with great caution and care in strict adherence to CDC guidelines, and then some. First of all, every day you showed up to the Steel Mill, a medic greeted you and she took your temperature and made sure you filled out a questionnaire about symptoms, etc. You got a wrist band if you were approved (a different one for each day). You had plenty of hand sanitizer and you did wear a mask the whole time (if it slipped under your nose, the medic let you know that that wasn’t cool). The crew was kept to a bare minimum – if you were a manager, a band member’s girlfriend, or the typical lookie-loo that appears at shows like this, you were asked to stay home and not welcomed on the set. “Some crew we asked to work on this weren’t comfortable coming in, and/or their spouse wasn’t comfortable, and that was okay – no judgement,” Scovill says.

Once inside, there were all kinds of other precautions taken. Video production director, engineer, and playback crew work typically six feet apart anyway – but now extra cables were brought in and they expanded  further. “Two lighting console techs are typically on top of each other, and we asked them to put more space between the consoles, which they were happy to do.” The huge doors of the Steel Mill were kept open to keep air circulating, shutting only when closing up at night and for the performance. Finally, there is follow-up and if anyone that was there tests positive for the Coronavirus, full contact tracing is in place.

“Honestly, I felt very responsible in every way,” Scovill says, of the production. “I felt responsible for the health of everyone who worked on the show, their mental health in the stress involved with leaving their house for this, and I hope it doesn’t sound silly, but I also felt responsibility to the industry. If anybody got sick from this first full production … well, that’s not the news the industry needs right now.” He adds that he is grateful for the everyone who did work on it as all appreciated the gravity and the stakes involved. (Paisley posted a great short video on his Facebook page of all the precautions taken to prepare for this show and at one point references the strict mask policy joking, “everybody looks like bank robbers.” To watch, go to https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=791459754592461.)

Interestingly, Paisley went with a full P.A. for that concert sound while Lady Antebellum went with a sound system that offered a more intimate vibe. “Brad wanted to feel the full sound, and Lady A wanted it more streamlined,” Scovill says. “Both were great, and it was a great juxtaposition. It showed that The Steel Mill is available and suitable for any type of show any artist wants to put on. It’s going to be a while before we can get back to business as usual, and a lot of the major players are taking a wait-and-see approach to performing, but in the meantime, we’re going to continue to be available for shows. We’re basically a turnkey solution.”

Sound Image provided audio gear for the event, and Paisley’s longtime FOH engineer, Kevin Freeman, mixed the show, using Yamaha RIVAGE PM7 digital console to drive the JBL VRX system.

Photo credit: Jeff Wedding

 

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