Americana rocker Jason Isbell completed a sold-out, six-night residency last autumn at the Ryman Auditorium, the iconic live performance venue in Nashville. Pulse Lighting’s Ayrton Ghibli™ and Mistral™ fixtures helped light up Isbell’s shows, which have become an annual event for his fans.

For four consecutive years Isbell has enjoyed a Ryman residency. This was the second year he played six shows at the historic venue, which was formerly the Grand Ole Opry House and Union Gospel Tabernacle. Isbell was supported by his band, the 400 Unit, and by his wife, singer-songwriter and violin player, Amanda Shires.

Mikey Cummings, head of the design team at Pulse Lighting’s Nashville office, is also the lighting designer for Jason Isbell. He had designed a rig for Isbell’s current tour cycle, which he revamped for the Ryman residency.

“We gave the rig a facelift and switched out some fixtures,” says Cummings. “I had been looking for more power conservation and greater consistency in colour, but I hadn’t loved any of the LED fixtures I’d seen. Then Doug Mekanik of ACT Lighting (Ayrton’s exclusive distributor in North America) demo’d the Ghiblis and Mistrals for us.”
Ghibli™ is Ayrton’s first LED spot luminaire with a factory-equipped framing system. It delivers a light output of 23,000 lumens in a highly compact format. Mistral™-TC is a versatile, ultra-compact and fully-equipped LED spot luminaire designed for applications requiring perfect colour reproduction.

“I was really impressed by the Ghibli,” says Paul Hoffman, owner of Pulse Lighting. “I came from a position of extreme scepticism when it came to LEDs in general. Their quality of light hasn’t been the same as traditional sources. I’d seen other LED profiles before the Ghibli, but Ghibli was the first whose level of quality was such that I was ready to buy it. In my opinion, it’s the first LED profile worth its salt.
“I was impressed with Mistral for all the same reasons, plus it’s smaller and lighter for our more cost-conscious bands,” he adds. “I’m very bullish on the success of that fixture.”

Cummings notes that, “the fixtures in the demo had a great lumen output, and we loved their weight and size. We want as many multi-use fixtures as possible, fixtures that will work across the board for clients. We always ask, ‘How many ways can we use this one light?’
“The weight of the Ghibli and the output of its LED is far greater than any other light I’ve seen,” he continues. “And it is feature-rich with everything lights today are supposed to have.”

Hoffman adds: “the Ghiblis and Mistrals are reliable and cost-effective. It’s exciting to have fixtures that don’t eat through lamps. And the LED source degrades at a far slower and more consistent pace than legacy Arc source lamps.”
The design for Jason Isbell’s Ryman residency was centred around his personal anchor-and-sparrow logo. An active set piece featured the crest illuminated by 20 universes of LED tape lights and incandescent lights. “Everything radiated from that set piece,” Cummings says.

He positioned four Ghiblis upstage and six more midstage, while the Ryman house fixtures included 18 Ghiblis in the grid. Cummings also mounted six Mistrals on ladders upstage and six on the floor towers. Depending on the song, the Ayrton fixtures provided band back and side lighting as well as effects lighting.

“We like to use fixtures of different wattages to add texture to a show, and the Ghiblis and Mistrals worked very well together. You couldn’t tell the difference between them on camera – they looked great,” Cummings says.

“The fixtures far exceeded what we hoped for, and have become active members of our inventory and part of our design process,” he reports. “Another benefit is that we can fit two fixtures in the same cases that used to carry only one.”

The Ayrton fixtures are on tour now with Tommy Emmanuel and Jerry Douglas, based on the recommendation of Pulse Lighting to the lighting designer. They also went out with Moon Taxi for a New Year’s Eve show designed by Pulse.

“Jason Isbell took the holidays off, but he’ll resume touring next March and the rig we designed with the Ayrton fixtures will continue to go out with him for the rest of 2019,” Cummings adds.

“Our relationship with ACT Lighting goes back a while, and I can’t say enough good things about them and our great sales rep, Doug Mekanik,” concludes Hoffman.

 

Text: David Steinberg
Courtesy of ACT Lighting, Inc.
Photos: © Greg O’Loughlin

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