Ephemera Lights


I'm born and raised in Birmingham UK.

Ephemera Lights started at school. It really started when my friend Dave Knox got me going on stage lighting especially a cyclorama (vast white background lit by RGB floodlights above and below)

Ephemera Lights, Birmingham

Sit up close to that (suitably stimulated) with someone changing the colours and you're off.

Then comes Fred Smith and Dave Cassidy (Amoeba Lights) with liquid slides in Rank Aldis Tutor 35mm slide projectors, Vitrina inks mainly (intended for stained glass artwork),

Also a home made OHP with using what I gather is called an Evaporating Dish (like a clock front glass with a gentle curve) which is manipulated manually up, down rocked, rotated giving the Amoeba impression.

The best bit here is that because it's done by hand you can keep the beat, follow the licks, which makes all the difference, being sound and music together.

Visually like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TW733Ut5zE0

So with Rog Fentiman we hung around, did some lugging, asked questions, and then got some gear ourselves.

We got some gigs, 1967 ish, most famously with Earth-Black Sabbath, The Who, Muddy Waters (can this be true?), Stackridge (good quiz question this), Deep Purple, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, Chicken Shack. In and around Birmingham in the late 60s was quite a scene!.

I went off to Uni in Leeds, and did the stage lighting for the bands there.

Very little Light Show work, but Leeds Uni was THE gig for all the bands in UK at that time (remember Live at Leeds - The Who?).

Back at the MAC (Midlands Arts Centre) we did stage and Light Show for a (the first?) production of Tommy, which later went to the Oval in London for a week.

I was then invited to take over the Light Show for Tea and Symphony from Ian Prebble.

We're really talking here because now we have the light effects chosen for each song, as well as knowing perfectly how the song goes, the beat, the accents, the cues for the changes, we actually rehearsed. But, no surprise, no money in it for anyone, it only lasted for a few months.

Back to theatre lighting and general sparks stuff, I got involved in theatre sound, which isn't the same as music, in theatre you may well have speakers littered all over the place, so for example the horses are heard drawing up outside the window stage right.

Low noise (hiss) is really important so the audience don't anticipate the horses, the gear around was converted mid range music PA and not suitable, so I had a big think, bought lots of copies of Studio Sound magazine, and sent my ideas to Dan Everard who had worked for Neve. Which 2 years later got me a job specifying, making and installing all the audio kit, PA and intercom and etc in various repertory theatres for Cambridge Electronic Workshop.

But before that I procured and then operated a stage lighting kit for Nektar, still going today, a bunch of Brits then in Germany. Par Cans weren't around at the time, so instead it was mainly Pattern 23 spots with colour wheels.

Nektar had, (still have) as a full member of the band Mick Brockett, whose Light Show, a mix of liquids and images made specially to fit the lyrics is still the best show integrated to the music I've ever seen. https://nektarsmusic.com/artist/mick-brockett/

He hated me because of course the stage lights competed with the projections

And that's it for me with Light Shows. I spent some time with Harrison (HH) audio, which taught me a lot about villainy. And later I created what is now Lumie.com, lights for circadian applications, Seasonal Affective Disorder, shiftwork etc.

Rog Fentiman still plies the trade in East Anglia

Steve Hayes - December 7th 2021