Sheryl Crow's Latest Tour Goes in Different Production Direction
Published Wednesday, December 7, 2005
by Allison Rost, PLSN

This year, Sheryl Crow moved in a different musical direction with her latest CD, Wildflower. The songs on Wildflower are more orchestrated than one would normally expect, and when Crow decided to do a limited 12-date tour, she added another dimension to the production: a 12-piece string section conducted by David Campbell. Crow's longtime production designer Paul "Arlo" Guthrie of Toss Film and Design created a lush, textured production and chose PRG to provide gear and road crew.

"We used a lot of diverse products for the tour, including 100 VersaTubes on ladder trusses upstage behind a kabuki reveal," notes Guthrie, "and 24 VL3000s, 30 VL5s and 10 VL1000AS luminaires. "The orchestra had a big presence on stage right, so I added tiered staging to the 2-foot riser that the piano, drums and keyboards were on to keep the whole backline on one plane. I illuminated the orchestra with VL1000AS units using the shutters to define them and also to keep light from spilling onto the set," the designer explains.

One of the most visual songs on this album was "Where Has All the Love Gone." "For that song, we started with a fantastic animated cartoon in the style of a children's story book. I kept the lighting really simple using the blue base of the projection material with some nice builds in the swells," Guthrie comments. Basing the lighting palette on the video is something that Guthrie did throughout the production; in other instances, he put a new spin on Crow's favorite tunes. "I did purposely change the palettes of some songs she has done for a while to keep it different, and I also love having every light in just one color," the designer adds. The color palette ranged from cool blues to intense orange and congo, while visuals included stylized white and blue flowers, as well as a few unexpected touches, like aquarium fish.

The work really starts in preproduction, and one of the reasons that Guthrie stays with PRG is his relationship with account manager Curry Grant. "I've worked with Curry for nearly 15 years and had the pleasure of collaborating with him on all sorts of projects. He's worked on nearly every single job I have done in the U.S., so it's great for me to have someone that I can trust. He's always given me well-prepped, reliable gear and great people," Guthrie notes. For Crow's tour, the crew consisted of crew chief/IT lead Ronnie Beal and technicians Jeff Anderson and Anthony Ciampa. "I had an awesome crew that I couldn't do without," remarks Guthrie.

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