Two incidents got me into Light Shows:
First,while a small boy in Berkeley CA 1968. my mom took me to this party at a park. There was a community center all blacked out and had a light show on all the walls. I was maybe 6 years old.
The second event was winter solstice 1984. I was living at a crash pad in berkeley and we all went down to see John Chippolina at the stone in Palo Alto, We had this bottle of orange juice laced with some of Nicky Sands very best, they confiscated it from us at the door and took it backstage. ( we got it back at the end of the night 3/4 empty. Anyway, Peter Rabinowitz was doing an oil plate and that was the first time I got to experience oil projection while tripping.
That night II credit for motivating me to become a visual artist.
Liquid Light Productions was formed in 1992 on the Russian River in Monte Rio, CA and is still working today (2020). It's been pretty much mostly just me. Bill Tunstal, Butterfly and Eugene Evon I miss a lot.
My main influences were three veteran light show artists. Peter Rabinowitz and Chris Samartizch from the Brotherhood of Light. They allowed me to tag along on Allman brothers tour learning the trade. And lovely Phyliss Laurie. A veteran light show artist who was the first person to invite me into a light show booth to work with her
I have worked with too many Bands to count....
Projections for Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Micky Hart and Bob Weir, David Nelson, Nancy Sinatra, Melvin Seales. The Airplane/Starship, Big Brother, The Tubes and I was the Rave light show at the Hog Farm Earthdance Festival for 9 years.
I did countless raves for Space Children at Home Base in Oakland as well as dozens of Luv Affairs.
I was the in house light show at the Maritime Hall and the Justice league in San Francisco. Ive been in two movies, Cheech and Chongs 2009 movie Hey watch this, National Lampoons In Search of festaroo.
I also was in an MTV video for Devil Driuver, hold back the day. Ive worked with just about every reggae Act from the Marley family to Mikey Dread, Rapper Andre Nickatina (Dre Dog) and was a staple at the reggae world music festival in Marysville for 7 years. Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, Sublime, Merl Haggard. Tommy Twotone ( yes I did lights for that song Jenny).
During the course of my career i've produced over 2000 light shows.
I have worked with Brotherhood of light, Phyliss Laurie lights, Eugene Evon lights, Stefan G lights, I was the in house liquid light show artist at the Bill Graham archives.
I then did a bunch of projection at the Fillmore and Warfield in San Francisco in the early 90s working for Rebecca Nichols and James Olness. I also worked at a number of large festivals like Laguna Seca in Monterey and Galactic at the Calaveras Fairgrounds with the BGP projection crew.
Back before the internet, when clock faces were impossible to find I stole a large clock face off the wall in a hotel swimming pool in Hyannis Maine on Starshhip tour and one out of the locker room at chico state after a Michael Frante show.
When I started there was no such thing as a video projector. I learned on overhead projectors and slide projectors.
Making animation by taking three slides of the same image at different angles and then using three slide projectors to animate.
Using glass candy dishes with lace to fill in empty patches in a room. I graduated to video projectors and mixers as the technology became available.
The light show in the 90s is still my favorite because there were so many experimental graphic programs as the computer industry first took off. So lots of the early images on VCR were really unique.
During this era, video projectors became bright enough to replace the 9000 lumen metal hallide overhead projectors.
This was when Elmo presenters became the standard way for oils to be incorporated into the visuals as opposed to the overlay method with ( When you overlay oils on video sometimes it doesn't work right, mixing the oils into a video format gives you control of the mix and luminescence.
Today its all HDMI formatted with special gaming sticks so there is no digital lag to the oil projection. The amount of visual material available is astounding compared to where we began.
I go by the philosophy of the small footprint and standardized show. One of the big roadblocks from the early light show days was that it was just too creative.
Once you start bringing in dozens of projectors and weird smelling oils, promoters and venue managers start to get worried.
My theory is to have a light show that can fit on one table, projectors mounted out of the way and professional screens. And that the equipment I use is the same at every show so that those paying me know what they are getting.
That doesn't mean I don't get way out creative with the visuals, but that is all in the content. The physical equipment is the same just that there are no surprises that could go wrong.
Ken Kesey once suggested I put those live baby seahorses in the oil plates and my then 10 year old daughter chastised him for being very mean for suggesting that
My first show was one overhead projector with an oil plate sitting on top of 4 milk crates, I stood on one behind the projector. It was in a packed to the gills 10x 12 band room with a band on 20 acres in Sonoma county CA.
Shortly thereafter the rig had three overhead projectors with oil plates, 12 slide projectors in4 separate banks of three and two smaller overheads with glass candy dishes and today, I have 2 10K Christies for the big shows, two 8 K projectors for smaller venues and about 4 or 5 other less then $K projectors mothballed in the attic.
Regards and respect,
Steve Goldsmith (Liquid Light Productions) - 22nd December 2020