If you have ever been in charge of sound at an event, you know that you are probably the best-prepared person there. Whether it is a company picnic, a carnival or an awards show, the sound person is the go-to for anything that anybody else forgot to bring. One exception is my wife’s friend, Leslie, who has a Broadway background and organizes her events like I have never seen before. She knows how to put on a show!
I have thought it over, and here is a list of stuff you are going to have in your road case or tote that nobody else thought to bring, even though they desperately need it for their job. Here goes:
1. Tape. Chances are that the poor folks running the school carnival did not plan that the booth signs that the kids made would need to be stuck up somewhere. They see your roll of gaffer tape and start salivating. Besides the fact that it costs you 20 bucks a roll, it does a terrible job of sticking down banners and tablecloths. Maybe toss a roll of masking tape in your gig kit – it will save you trouble in the long run.
2. The Schedule. How many times has the event organizer come up to you and said there will be a skit, or a dance act, or an award presentation, but could not tell you when any of these things were going to happen? Everything is a last minute call on their part, it seems. Bring a piece of paper and a pencil so you can help them figure it out. You know they won’t have anything to write with…
3. Power. One way or another you have the power. Electric power, that is. If they are looking for an extension cord, you are the one that has it. If you are in the middle of a park with your own generator, you know that the snow-cone guy’s POS Harbor Freight generator will not start and he will have to glom onto one of your outlets. So, you get static through your speakers every time he grinds up a block of ice. Every time.
4. A Table. Nature abhors an unoccupied flat surface, and you have one. That award they are going to hand out? It ends up on your table. Random cell phones just end up there – keep an eye on yours so it does not disappear by mistake. And miscellaneous drinks – they always end up on your table, even though you have plenty of expensive electronic crap to spill it on. Someone else’s drink has a half-life of about two seconds on my table. Go set it on the guitarist’s amp, please.
5. Tools. Screwdriver? Check. Pliers? Check. Pocket knife? Check. Your multi-tool is priceless, because nobody else has any of these things. Flashlight? Yeah, right.
6. Direct box and cables. Hey high school kid with the cheap-o acoustic/electric guitar – did you bring a cable? No. Did you bring a direct box? What’s a direct box? Exactly.
7. Shade. Out in the middle of a field in the dead of summer your easy-up will become a lot more popular than you could ever imagine. Stake out your turf early so that you get to enjoy it too, and make sure you figure out which way the sun is going to cross the sky so you are not frying in the late afternoon.
8. A sense of humor. Someone has to keep things light, and it will not be the cranky principal, the stuffy vice president, or the overwhelmed scoutmaster. Maybe you should be that someone!