September 7, 2011 would have been the 75th birthday of pioneering singer/songwriter/rock ‘n roller, Buddy Holly. To commemorate the event, Songmasters conceived and produced a star-studded concert they promised would be the ultimate Buddy party. Buddy Holly: Listen To Me was taped before a live audience which included Holly’s widow, Maria Elena Holly, at Hollywood’s Music Box Theatre, for broadcast on PBS as well as for DVD release. The show was hosted by Grammy Award winning producer Peter Asher with co-host Chris Isaak.
Three generations of all-star performers interpreted Buddy’s music in their own personal way, including superstars Stevie Nicks, Graham Nash, Lyle Lovett, Chris Isaak, Cobra Starship’s Gabe Saporta and Victoria Asher, Paul Anka, Patrick Stump, Boz Scaggs, Shawn Colvin, Michelle Branch, and famed guitarists James Burton and Albert Lee. Another bonus for the audience was seeing Phil Everly in his last on-stage performance. The singers were backed by a house band comprised of the royalty of Hollywood session musicians anchored by music director and guitarist, Waddy Wachtel.
The requirement for the lighting was to create an eye-popping opening, to impart a unique look and vibe for each individual performance, to low-light the formally-attired Hollywood A-List audience, and to highlight the scenic elements. These consisted of a large backdrop of stylized Buddy images (a la the DVD artwork), and scenic drapery swags made of clear crystal bead strands. The venue also had two vertical arrays of video screens that framed the sides of the stage, on which simple abstract colored content was displayed. We supplemented the in-house stage lighting with followspots and automated fixtures to help light the performers in the most flattering way, as well as to give us the tools we needed to accent the music and create mood.