Ayrton lighting fixtures, grandMA3 consoles and MDG theONE atmospheric generators hit the road with Cody Johnson

Bandit Lites, Inc. has provided Ayrton Ghibli and Khamsin lighting fixtures, grandMA3 consoles and MDG theONE™ atmospheric generators to lighting designer, Richard “Wookie” Whitley, for Cody Johnson’s Leather Tour and Johnson’s sold-out 360 show at the Bridgestone Arena, Nashville. ACT Entertainment is the exclusive distributor of Ayrton, MA Lighting and MDG products in North America.

Ayrton Ghibli and Khamsin perform for Cody Johnson on tour and in Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.

A platinum-selling COJO Music/Warner Music Nashville recording artist, Cody Johnson launched The Leather Tour, with additional festival dates, in January in Sacramento in support of his Leather album released last November. The tour will continue in North America through to the end of the year.
Johnson also played to a crowd of more than 20,000 at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena with his 360 show, staged in a full 360º performance area. His appearance marked the most tickets sold by a male country artist in their Bridgestone debut.

Wookie, who served as lighting designer for Johnson’s Human Tour last year, did the design, gear selection and programming and also acts as the board op for the Cody Johnson Leather Tour and 360 show. He’s a long-time friend of Bandit Lites client rep, Allen Deneau, whose company provided him with the complement of Ayrton, grandMA and MDG equipment.

“Ayrton is one of our premier fixture lines, especially the Khamsins,” says Deneau. “We have used Khamsins on countless tours including Alanis Morrissette, Shinedown and LANY. I know Jason Aldean used 82 of them before Cody, and Billy Strings is out with a large number of them. Ayrton has the fixtures people go to most; they have great colour mixing, great gobos and are very consistent across the line.”

Wookie explains that Johnson’s normal tour rig sticks to the basics. “It’s almost a nice festival plot: simple and to the point, no crazy rigging, just make it punch.” Lighting the 360 show in the huge Bridgestone Arena was much the same – “keep it easy to rig and pack a punch,” he says.

Wookie chose nine Ghibli spot luminaires for the tour and used 60 Khamsin profiles in the bigger rig for the 360 show. “I’ve always kept up with what Ayrton is doing,” he notes. “I’ve used all kinds of brands, and you always plan on some breaking down, but my Ayrton fixtures have all been fine – they’re such workhorses and give me everything I need.”

While last year’s tour had lighting carts, this year Wookie wanted to hide the ground package. “The Ghiblis are mounted in GT truss at the same height level as the drum riser,” he explains. “They give really good aerial effects and cut through everything. I’m extremely happy with them.”

For the Bridgestone appearance, “there was no need for the floor package we carry on tour so Bandit upgraded us to 60 Khamsins for more fire power in that space,” says Wookie. Twelve were positioned on the floor with the rest in the air in dual chevron configurations.
“It was very easy to merge over from Ghiblis to Khamsins: the gobos and colour mixing are almost the same. We had no issues at all, and I was very happy with their output. “I plan to use more Ayrton fixtures in the future; I’ve already told Bandit that I’m pushing for a full Ayrton rig of spots and washes for next year.”

Wookie is a fairly recent convert to grandMA consoles and chose grandMA3 running in MA3 mode for the tour and 360 show. A single grandMA3 full-size console controls lighting for the tour; an additional full-size unit was on hand as backup for the 360 show.

“Pre-COVID I started learning the grandMA2 and during the shutdown I was lucky to have one at home and had the chance to learn more about the system,” he says. “Then grandMA3 came out, and I went head first into it for this year.”

He enjoys using grandMA3 recipes. I had some programming from 360 that I wanted to incorporate with the standard rigging. With recipes I could pick and choose what I wanted and merge them. No issues – they worked like a dream.” He also finds the selection grid “makes my job so much easier.” Bandit Lites’ Deneau notes that grandMA3 is “now moving into a leadership position” among consoles “for its sheer, raw processing power.”

Wookie also began to use a pair of MDG theONE™ atmospheric generators last year, which Deneau calls “the go-to system” for bigger tours. “I was extremely happy with their output in the arenas we were in; at the minimal setting they gave me perfect coverage,” Wookie says.
“Even at festivals, their output was amazing, and the blower fan was exactly what I needed. I had no issues at all with theONEs I used. Bring them out, plug them in, turn them on and they are ready to go!”

This year Wookie has another pair of theONE™s for the tour and the Bridgestone show. “I want the beams to cut through and pop so for the tour and the 360 show I had them on the floor, away from the stage behind everything. They give me a great atmosphere that allow the spots and washes to pop with no plumes of smoke like you see with some other brands.”

More information on Ghibli, Khamsin and the full portfolio of innovative Ayrton LED and laser-sourced products can be found at www.ayrton.eu

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Text by Ayrton

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