Jay Byrd Light Show


My name is Jay Ashcraft, in 1967 I started Jay Byrd Light Show (JBLS) and performed with many bands particularly Gold Rush mostly I was the only light show in South Texas circa 66-70.

Also worked the Austin, Houston Corpus circuit.

In the 60's I think I was the first to perform live light show on television at the Arcadia Theater in Harlingen Texas with the Band Thirteenth Hour Dream on KGBT to the Eric Burdon and the Animals cover of Sky Pilot.

It was quite a trick to use the TV stations huge bulky Back and White tube cameras to get enough video signal with the available light. But we did it and it was great. We timed the show to start and they turned the house and extra TV lights off and then I turned on the stage lights, and several overheads, slide projectors and movie projectors.

The bands I worked with wrote light parts to songs just as the other players had their parts to their songs. I was part of the band though I always was plugged in posters and ads as Jay Byrd Light Show but know as and nicknamed JBLS or just LS or light show.

I was lucky to study and perform with Jim Franklin at Vulcan Gas Company with Johnny Winter. We would crawl up the latter and pull the later up and be up there and getting high off the chemicals.

The light booth was cool cause once you pulled the later up no one could get up there so you could party. And right above the light booth was a hole into the attic or upstairs where you could crawl in and Jim Franklin crashed up there and it had mattresses all over the floor and was a trip. So you could sneak up to the light show pull the later up play lights to Johnny Winter then go up into the level above and get high in a chill space that no one could get to and et high and still listen to Johnny Winter downstairs playing live all tripped out on speed playing riffs so fast you cant even hear them, I still can't believe it, but it was real. And the Light Show was part of the gestalt.

I was also lucky to play and study with Jelly Wall Eyes Pack at Love Street Light Circus in Houston with the Moving Sidewalks, Gold Rush and the Shades. I wonder where Granny is? She was a trip at Love Street. And those stairs at toting equipment or coming down after a night at the club.

Love Street Light Circus and Feel Good Machine with Jelly Wall Eyes Pack was the coolest club ever with a stage right there in your face and intimate with mattresses right in front with several rows of folk laying down to Shiva's Headband or Moving Sidewalks and zonked on LSD. The sides had tables with bars in front and upstairs was the trip room and it was.

One time I remember at an old Air Force Base in Harlingen in an old Movie Theater playing the lights with Vicky Compton (Todd Potter of Bubble Puppy ex-wife ) and the band stopped after a long jam song and I literally fell back on my back in the balcony.

We used old clock faces on the overheads and blow dryers and straws and smaller clock faces to move the colored oils and colored water We would flapping the output lens strobing between several overheads to the music.

Also used multiple slide projectors, movie projectors, strobes, color wheel boxes I built, and lights that would mix to the tempo and pitch with red being hottest, then yellow, then green, then blue for the lows. I would mix my oil colors ahead of time and the water I used food coloring when I mixed the colors. My base was mineral oil.

The only premixed commercial oil I used was red transmission fluid It would mix well with the other grade oils and would change as time went by and would work well under the glass clock faces when they were pressed together. I had some creative sources for supplies. I had tons of films and surf films old war films, tons of weird slides I would make painting
on films burning them etc.

I even communicated with Stan Brackage as my mentor when I was 16 when I was developing images. He would write me from his neat dome light show home in Stoney Point NY. at that time and he would give me pointers on how to do weird stuff with film.

He literally had a dome home that he projected all over the ceiling. Definitely someone that should be in the creative influences of Light Shows.

He sure taught and inspired me and I was lucky to have had him as a teacher at 16. Stan just passed this year too in Canada.

I was impressed that he would care to write a 16 year old making light shows as an instrument of the music. But I think he was just as excited that a 16 year old would be writing him to further the Art of Light, he really started it all with his avant-garde films in 1952. He started when I was born and he was 19 and re-invented cinema.

If you don't know him study him. Ironically Brackage films were void of sound. Like I said we would choreograph the images to the music just as another instrument.

Also enhanced the audience with chemicals:)
It was a trip and anyone there remembers it.

There also must be mention of Love Street in San Antonio next to Hemisphere. I met Tiny Tim there one night and partied with him and his old lady.

The club was cool. It was an old Movie Theater and had seats going up with a stage and a dance floor in front of it, then the tiers of seating going up all around it. Stage right there was upstairs a restaurant bar with more air conditioning and glass that looked over the stage with sound reinforcement in the bar, but a little different atmosphere with tables where you could talk but still look over to the theatre and stage.

The light show was unique in that it was rear screen projected in two floors of six or eight cubes with dancers silhouetted and they would change each individually or together, not much different than the stacked big screens in concerts today It was a cool club. I think Love Street at Allen's Landing was the best but Vulcan Gas Company in Austin and Love Street San Antonio are definitely worth study and documentation.

All were unique in their design as a club for the environment at the time as well as were the light shows part of the design and experience.

In the 70's I studied Radio, TV, Film in Austin at UT, produced and directed films and video, and in the 80s studied computers.

I later did a film on the History of Austin Music with Tara Veneruso called Janis Joplin Slept Here, available for rent at Waterloo in Austin or purchase at: www.flamingangelfilms.com.

It covers the history of Austin music from the 40's to 90's and has interviews with over 120 people including Jim Franklin and poster artists and musicians. Might check it out. Perhaps soon I will have it on InterneTV. It is the best video chronicle of music in Austin and the 60's I have seen and is two hours long.

I also have done some light shows in the 90's at the EARS concerts at the University of Texas at Austin part of their experimental music department and interdisciplinary arts lab. I also worked with Cyberspace Architect Marcos Novak, choreographer, Yacov Sharir, and graphic artist, Diane Gromala at designing and performing the first Virtual Reality Environment with new dance, projecting Virtual Reality and experimenting at integration of video and computers into dance, movement and performance as well as in immersive worlds that you can navigate with 3D headsets trackers and hand like VR mouse's.

The project was with a $600,000 grant from Banff Centre for the Arts and performed from
Singapore, to Paris to Utah, and included in the Guggenheim Museum in NYC.

I also have done several collaborations using video projection and computer integration with Yacov Sharir and Russell Pinkston in the 90's.

I also was lucky to study with Linda Montano in performance art and did several performance art pieces using light shows, performance, and industrial strength audio mixes, which was more fun with light shows in the 90's. I also must mention the privilege to be a friend to Sandy Stone and her ACTLAB and been able to explore environments and virtual communities and 3D Chat on the net.

In the early 90's I took my light show stuff further and commercially to the internet and invented InterneTV and was the first to commercially broadcast on the net with Much Music and KVR-TV at UT Austin, TV station I built. We programmed with Much Music USA now fuse and the Austin Music Network.

We also did some neat live programs on the net and also was the first to program live shows from the internet on TV too. I love it.

Today I also and exploring artificial intelligent bots and integrating voice and video on the internet and over phones and for home and offices.

Fun stuff and an extension of the Light Show.

Jay Ashcraft Management (my original music and light show company since 67 now 36 years old) has had InterneTV.com a music related internet broadcaster. That has been a fun trip in itself, got tons of press, and I am proud to changed the world from the sixties to the 21st century as we know it. I even coined the term "Explorer" now a household common word.

Might check out http://www.InterneTV.com to see the light show of this century. Have 7 live music TV channels now from around the worlds and lots of videos and audio and mixes.... Enjoy I been lucky and still think light show every day.

I have a link on there of Gold Rush with some old cool songs and a nice mix under psychedelic too. Great Thing you have done. My fav pastime today is making mixes like I am listening to know old yardbirds with dazed and confused and zone out on the visualizations. Have fun and keep in touch.

If anything I can do ask I will. I have a house in Austin but now I am in Missouri trying to turn pig shit into electricity.

Later and thanks for your work keeping it alive and cataloging light shows. I still have my stuff and can perform :-)

Jay Ashcraft aka JBLS - August 2003