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While working as an Executive Producer at a visual effects company in her hometown, Molly Gray got a taste of doing media content when they were hired to create visuals for a few songs for a Kenny Chesney tour. She was immediately hooked to the medium, a “junkie from the first taste”. Chesney’s Director Shaun Silva gave them many opportunities and she continued to fall in love with the craft. When Kenny took a year off in 2010, she sought new clients, landing Jay Z & Bon Jovi. Inspired, she ventured out on her own to start a company that exclusively did visuals for performance environments and at the top of 2012, TANTRUM was born.


As one would suspect, what makes Tantrum flourish is having a passionate force from an owner that truly loves the industry. “For better or worse, I love it”, she tells us. Those of us in this field know that despite the long hours and hard work, it is pure passion that keeps us pressing forward. We are a unique blend of creativity, exuberance, and dedication, and Molly is no exception. Equipped with experience and the knowledge to educate and inform every animator that she hires, there is rarely any misperception of what they’re about to get into. Molly is forthright in her communication from the difficult challenges of the project to the reward of seeing 60,000 fans throw a tantrum when the artist hits the stage. It is this “Tantrum” that inspired the company’s moniker and it is the continued inspiration for her unending drive. “It’s a moment that gets me every time”. Yep, she’s definitely hooked.


I became hooked to Tantrum’s style the moment I saw their reel (link below). Holy WOW. It was like being reunited with something I had been looking for for a long time. Brave, raw, edgy, and seamless, Tantrum’s art is undoubtedly a force to be reckon with. Truly inspiring!

Tantrum is distinct in that, unlike many companies that are born from the creatives that make the product, Tantrum is led by a Producer. The business model was not deliberate, but simply a literal bi-product of her reality.  Molly explains, “Years of working in commercial advertising have engrained in me that the brand is the lead, so in this case, a music artist, or a song, or a vision for a tour.  As the Producer who operates Tantrum, I try to bring on creatives who are held accountable to a vision higher than their own art, but I also expect them to never betray their own art”. How about that for creative integrity?! 


Molly’s enthusiasm spreads across all of Tantrum’s work and she considers each collaboration to be a major highlight. “Tantrum is such a new company, every new project is a mark that we’re doing something right.  Every new project serves as a reminder that we’re vital”. 

SHOUT OUT: “So proud to have designed media for Dierks Bentley’s tour because I finally got to work with Production Designer Bruce Rogers; also on that team was Chris Reade, a relentlessly collaborative Lighting Designer with bold vision!  I love Dierks’ bravery when it comes to the honesty of his music. I loved Lil Wayne because I got to learn that it’s ok if a piece of animation doesn’t work. Led by Production Designer Justin Collie on Lil Wayne’s AMERICA’S MOST WANTED TOUR, I got to see what it means to work the media. Collie didn’t just take it and play it, he sculpted it! I loved working on Jason Aldean’s tour; we were given a ton of creative freedom on the screens. Such abandon is unnerving and liberating. Aldean, to me, is an incredible performer. He makes it cool to listen to Country Music again. (Listen to The Truth and tell me it doesn’t hold it’s own against decades-old crooners.) I love working with Luke Bryan because he owns the stage and is such an Entertainer; his show is re-inventing what a country show can look like. Production Designers Pete Healey and Justin Kitchenman (Luke Bryan) are an amazing duo! Finally, I adore every show I have ever done with Kenny Chesney. Having worked with him for six tours, Kenny will forever be the standard I hold Stage Entertainers to. He’s a giant force when it comes to the business of his tours; but he is equally generous and easy-going. I’m amazed at the apparent ease of the dichotomy. Without the opportunities Chesney affords any young visionary who isn’t afraid to work their ass off, there’s a lot of small companies that wouldn’t be here.”


I have no doubt in my mind that this company will continue to champion unyielding enthusiasm and creativity for years to come. Keep an eye on this visionary and enjoy the Tantrum!

Check out their AMAZING REEL:

PHOTO CRED from top: 

1. Lil Wayne AMERICA’S MOST WANTED TOUR Production and Lighting Design: Justin Collie, PEDG. Content: Tantrum

2. Dierks Bentley LOCKED AND LOADED TOUR Production Designer: Bruce Rogers. Lighting Designer: Chris Reade. Content: Tantrum

3. Jason Aldean NIGHT TRAIN TOUR Production Design: Mike Swinford, Uplate Design. Lighting Design: Aaron Swetland. Content: Tantrum

4. Kenny Chesney BROTHERS OF THE SUN TOUR Production and Lighting Design: Mike Swinford, Uplate Design. Content: Tantrum

Highlight on Lighting Company of the Year & A Final Farewell to 2013

Well it’s a little late but here it is: interview and highlight of 2013’s lighting company of the year! I intended to publish this a few weeks ago but January came on stronger than expected and we all know being busy is a good thing! So now a final farewell to 2013 and a long awaited congratulations to Bandit from LOBOLUX!

 Bandit was founded in1968 when a 12 year old Michael Strickland approached the promoter of a Beach Boy’s concert and offered to do lighting for his next concert. Concert lighting was just beginning to develop and his offer was accepted for $25. He pulled it off and carried on month after month for over 40 years making Bandit a global success. 

Bandit had a great line up of artists that cultivated it’s award winning year with many spectacular acts such as Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean, Selena Gomez, Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson, Sammy Hagar, Rascal Flatts, Jack Johnson, The Band Perry, Little Big Town, Shinedown, Toby Keith, Three Days Grace, Jimmy Buffett, Widespread Panic, Miranda Lambert, Lee Brice, Billy Currington, ZZ Top, Barry Manilow, CSN, Neil Young, Americas Got Talent, Cirque Musica, The Moody Blues, as well as incredible special events, like Bonnaroo, Forecastle, CMA Music Festival, The Governor’s Ball, and Firefly.
Though I tried to snag the accolades of a few fave LDs, Bandit replied that they are grateful to have cultivated relationships with some of the best lighting designers in the biz but there are simply too many to name and they wouldn’t want to leave anyone out. I can understand how it would be hard to narrow it down to a few favorites when they are clearly beaming with a wide selection of talent. Now I’m inspired to do a future blog or two on LD interviews and you’ll have to come back for more. Who can resist?
When asked what makes them unique, Bandit’s Media Relations Coordinator Sharon Gross replied, “In addition to Bandit’s incredible impact on the lighting industry over the last 45 years, Bandit maintains its edge by paying attention to all the details; not just in technical aspects with lighting and technology, but in the way it treats each project with the same care and thought- whether it is a one day show, an installation, or a global tour. Bandit is committed to going the extra lengths to provide the best outcome- we’ve been around long enough to have solutions to problems other’s may not even know to anticipate. Everything is labeled, organized, and each Bandit knows exactly where everything goes, saving clients time on the road. Each tour receives its own project manager: one person dedicated to understanding everything about your specific show, from gear to show support, giving you the peace of mind to focus on other important things. Should something come up and you require assistance, our amazing technical support team is there to help”.
When I toured the Nashville warehouse I especially enjoyed the prep area where this organization happens. There are 4 areas so that multiple tours can be prepped simultaneously. The place was buzzing with productivity as Bandit was finishing out the year with plenty of holiday projects, including the exciting Music City New Year’s Eve Bash on Broadway. Shop Foreman Mark Steinwachs was a great tour guide and a blast to chat with as always, while Director of Technical Services Jake Tickle took some time to get nerdy with me about pros and cons of a variety of fixtures. Anyone who knows me knows that I can talk shop all day long on this topic so I’m pretty sure I stole a good deal of Jake’s time with our ramblings and I certainly enjoyed the banter. 
I can only imagine that the fellas are always such a pleasure to be around due in part to Bandit’s developed and practiced theory called Humanomics: Caring for not just the individual in the work environment, but in their entire life and family. Sharon told me, “Bandit Lites strives to create a workforce that is happy and satisfied in and out of the office through compensation packages and social activities. As a company we strive towards that betterment of not only our employees, but the communities in which we reside as well. Through community outreach and education we strive to be not only business, but also social leaders within the areas we all live”. Happy people make cool stuff. Like.
I wondered if Michael Strickland had retired now that the company can clearly run itself but it turns out that he works daily at the World Headquarters in Knoxville. Mr. Strickland is also an alumnus of Leadership Knoxville, Society of International Business Fellows, CNN USA Entrepreneur of the Year, University of Tennessee College of Business Distinguished Alumni, Chair of the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and sits on numerous other boards. He also joined the inaugural class of Leadership Tennessee in 2013. Michael spends a great deal of time on Philanthropical endeavors. Talk about a busy body! 
All the Bandits I know are fun, knowledgeable, and down to earth, making my first interview of the year an enjoyable and inspiring one to conduct. Keep up the hard work and I’ll see you at the show!
For photo credits and more visit

LDI 2013: Slideshow to the blah blah blog!

RECAP: LDI 2013 

I live 8 minutes from the Nashville airport, so I thought leaving the house an hour before flight would be just fine. Well it would have been, if I actually knew how to get to the airport. I remembered seeing a sign on the highway a few times so I thought it would be that way…and my friend that gave me a ride also didn’t realize she didn’t know until after too much time in rush hour when we stopped talking long enough to realize we were…just driving. She assured me that it was a small airport and I shouldn’t worry because it only has “…like 3 gates or something”. While I was hustling my way to security I pondered her definition of small. It’s not like Atlanta, so that helped, but small makes me think of Long Beach, CA which has 1 terminal and maybe 4 gates. BNA proved to have more than 3 gates though, considering I saw 3 terminals as I increased my stride.

It makes sense though, that I’d end up sprinting through the airport. That seems to be my m.o. lately. I’ve gotten so comfortable with travel that I just up & go, like I’m just heading out to the grocery store. When I finally got to security they strictly assured me the gates would be shut in a few minutes and I should run, fast. I slithered onto the plane, dead last, and the gate was locked 20 seconds behind me. Phew!

Upon landing it’s right to business - and what a fun business we have. 2 of my speakers, Susan Rose & Richard Cadena, were going to be in town this day, so we organized a dinner meeting to button up our plan. Richard & Kevin Loretto from Robe also had plans so we merged. Susan invited a couple of friends as well and then we ran into more as we were filling our growing table. It was a blast. Gordon Biersch is yum.

After the meal, I offered a few rides home since I was rockin’ the rental. Susan was last and we were having such a good conversation that we decided to night cap at Ghost Bar. It was ladies night! We asked what that entailed and the bartender said there was champagne earlier but it was over now. Um, OK. By this hour ~1am, it meant geezers hitting on PYTs. We did a little number on the dance floor and then went to the patio for one of the best views in Vegas. Invigorating. & the night caps went on.

Next day I had to prep the panel during the day. I had been so busy the past few months with relocating to Music City that I barely had time for organizing. The work could only last so long though because there was more fun to be had. It’s Vegas, people. I met again with Susan, Marshall, & Doc and this time we added Chris Cockrill to the mix, LD to Gretchen Wilson. I had plans to meet my badass Hog4 trainer, Joe Haller, so we sauntered over to Hard Rock Circle Bar. 

Can I just say how much I adore the HES staff? I always have the best time with these guys. I finally met Joe’s Yin or Yang, whichever theatre programming is compared to rock, Paul Hancock, a new favorite. I want to keep him in my pocket. Susan Nicholson from Herrick Goldman Design was also in on the fun along with a slew of other badasses. I can’t repeat these conversations. I’m still laughing.

Wandering around the circle I ran into Chris McMeen who I finally had a chance to tell that I am also working for Christie Lites now. He introduced me to some of the Christie Canadians. Cool guys. Everyone seemed really tall. Unfortunately, Huntly was already gone. Next time, Gadget.

The list goes on. I think at some point I left for shuteye, just enough to get my blurry eyes back open for the ribbon cutting. So now it’s Friday. I made my way to the A.C.T. booth to catch up with my MA2 trainer, Esteban Caracciolo. He promptly introduced me as his 1st MA2 student which was a fun little moment. I like to think that sometimes when I reach out for text support (No, that was not a typo) that I am offering some good challenges from time to time. Probably not but I intend to stump him one of these days! 

The trade floor. I wish I had more pictures now. I spent most of my time playing with consoles. I’m sorry, I’m obsessed. I pretty much looped ACT>HES>Martin. The phone was exploding with meetups so I just reverted to my LDI personality, energetic social nerd, and ran around accordingly. Robe had a great light show and Martin had some neat install styles going on. I was impressed how Phillips, which I inherently refer to as VL, fit all 4 diverse products under one arched roof. It was quite seemless. & while everyone was raving about the B Eye, my eye was drawn to the 330 Wash. The motorized top hat is mesmerizing. 

Darkness falls, drinks are poured. This night I started a pretty good rumor. Really it was an accident, but it was a great opportunity to catch up with The See Factor guys that I hadn’t seen since I worked for them in NY a few years ago. Alban Sardinski, Bob Burkhardt, & Rob are just as awesome as ever, even after I made up that story about Toby Keith’s being the after party for the end of Ringo Starr’s tour. Whoopsy. Don’t use it against me, guys, I’m still available to tour ;)

Susan Rose had an impromptu performance which was just wonderful. Afterwards it got club-like and I couldn’t believe that I was hearing The Fox song outside of YouTube. Yes, we danced. I finally had to give in to the call of a belated Cinderella and get myself to bed so I could do my presentation in the morning.

Ladies in Lighting. I can not quantify how mind blowing this panel was for me. This was my brainchild so I thought I was in control. I presumed I knew how it would play out. I also prepared myself for low attendance. Well, the doors were overflowing and there was even a snafu with getting people in. I corrupted some staff and opened the floodgates. Then my powerpoint failed to go into presenter mode, which made me giggle. Every time I attend lectures like this it seems there is an issue with equipment even though it’s a room full of technical experts. It never fails. Richard gave me his computer and with a quick flash drive exchange I was ready.

The buzzing slowed, the doors were closed, and I leaned into the mic. The seats were loaded. Many of these attendees were industry leaders whose faces I recognized. These women are my role models. I never conceived this moment. A sea of idols, looking at me, waiting to hear me speak. I don’t know what happened during the next 3 minutes. I planned to be calm and introduce my speakers but I was beheld by the stature of my audience and it felt like I was talking very fast. I was on the third slide in a heartbeat, which was unintended. I caught myself. Chill girl, you got this. Luckily the content required an explanation of why there was a man on a panel about Ladies in Lighting. I got a collective laugh when I audibly realized this may be confusing to the attendees. It smoothed out from there and developed into a thoughtful, creative discussion, complete with humor and debate. It was invigorating and it felt empowering, which is what I want for us all.

The end of the panel came too quickly and we scrambled to fill out surveys and conclude. What happened next was as moving as seeing so many incredibly talented women in the crowd. The gratitude and compliments bestowed on me was beyond humbling. Hearing how this impacted the young women in the room especially affected me when they rushed up to me to share their hardships and hopes. The importance of this collaboration has been growing over the past few months, but it wasn’t until this very second that I suddenly felt how important this was. Everything. Everything that led me here, doing what I love with people I admire, in an industry built on passion and thrill. Just. Amazing.

I can’t wait to edit the footage to share with you all. Kathy Torjman from 4Wall was quick on the draw to sponsor a camera and operator to record the session and I am so incredibly grateful. Scott Kase from Used Lighting set everything up & he was an absolute pleasure to work with.

After several rapid fire after chats, I had a moment of truth with Tara Miller from Albuquerque. Grateful to have a dear friend with whom I could catch my breath as the adrenaline slowed. Then back to the floor!

Again I had every intention of seeing as much product as I could absorb but that wasn’t in the cards for me this year. No regrets, having raw, in-depth conversations with the people that took time away from their booths and networking to participate in the session was worth every minute. Sharon Huizinga, Cathie Berbena Lloyd, Vicki Claiborne, Jennifer Moore, Anne Valentino, Kara O’Grady, Molly Gray, Caroline Rault, Jane Rein, Sarah Rushton-Read et al…fantastic conversation and support. 

Doors close, dinner time. With a gracious invite I was off to Culinary Dropout where Herrick Goldman put together a great dinner, bar, & mustache photo booth. More amazing people and great exchanges. A flight too early for Vegas eventually tore me away but man oh man, I love these people. How lucky am I to have the best job in the world?

Hey Nashvillains! If you are interested in touring in the music industry or even just want to educate yourself on how to improve your business tactics as an independent contractor then you should check out this insightful workshop by Chris Lisle and his team. It’s free and it’s awesome. Click the link above to register and I’ll see you there!

Too Fun! This is my 1st time using Adobe Premiere & Soundbooth. I didn’t have a plan, so it doesn’t make sense really, just learning to edit and using junk on my harddrive. My 1st video stars VL 1K & AquaFogger 3000 courtesy of Pacific Coast Entertainment. Soundtrack sample MIA Born Free + my effects/mixing. Whhhheeeeeee!

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