SitMS 2012 - The View From The Stage
Stick it to MS 2012 'The View From the Stage’
I was very privileged to be asked to be Stage Manager for SitMS 2012, and as such I got a slightly different view of proceedings from the front and from setup on the Saturday right through to the Sunday evening pack down.
The Saturday preparations included teams of volunteers marking out around 800 squares with tape on the floor – one for each drummer to setup in. We then emptied an entire artic lorry of around 40 Natal drum kits and proceeded to build each one. Black & Decker electric screw drivers have never been more welcome for heading up kits! This also included setting up six kits on stage for the artists while PA, lighting and AV were rigged and tested all around us. This continued on the Sunday morning (starting at 7am!) while the 800 or so drummers started turning up in pre-planned shifts to get their own gear into the venue, a process that seemed to go remarkably smoothly from where I was.
It was during this time that the noise started. As you would expect, that many drummers are going to be having a bit of a knock about. Fortunately the excellent planning of this event meant that 10 minutes of ‘silence’ was built into every hour to allow a rest for the ears and a chance for me to tune some kits.
I also tried to liase between the drummers and sound engineers to make sure everyone knew what was required, again slightly hampered by the general volume levels. I even found myself setting up microphones for a pair of Bagpipe players later in the show – something that was a first for me (no, they were not lost - they were supposed to be there to perform with The Guvnors!).
The guest artists on stage were gentlemen to a man – each one was very easy going, very accommodating of the slightly unusual plan and each seemed to spend most of their time offering their signatures and posing for photos, again all with patience and a smile. In order of appearance they were:
Steve White, Andy Treacy & Russell Gilbrook
Then all the above at the same time for the world record.
Also on stage as host and with the role of generally keeping the whole show running was Ian Danter who also took bass and vocal duties in the Marshall house band The Guvnors. He, along with Chris George on Guitar, Simon Turner on drums and the afore-mentioned performing drummers made up the bulk of my ‘responsibilities’ for the event. It was these people I had to look after and make sure were doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right place. And how easy was my job?
As I say, every one of them was a pleasure to work with as they were there on time, ready to do the show and were happy to go with the flow. I especially owe a lot to Ian Danter who was really the time keeper of the day, making sure things went to schedule, kept the show flowing and generally made my job easy and made me look like I knew what I was doing! On top of all this he also sang and played bass for a couple of songs every hour all afternoon and I am sure he even got me a coffee at one point. What a legend.
So from 11am on the Saturday it was basically non-stop for me and the many other volunteers I met and got to know. Indeed it was these people that really made this a fun event...right up to the Monday morning at 5am when I had to leave Manchester to get back down south for a normal day in the office - and I made it, too!
It is quite a sight to see around 800 drummers all doing their thing –and all in time together too. The venue was so large that the last rows of drummers were just dots on the horizon and yet you could see their arms working in time with everyone else. I was also lucky enough to be able to run out into the crowds to play along in the world record attempt and it was great to both see it and be a part of it. Everyone – and I mean everyone – who I met that day was keen, willing and above all else happy to be part of something this important. I really hope this can happen again – that will certainly take some doing (do I hear 1000 drummers? 1500?). I for one will be there. Now I need some sleep.
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