Ten Years of the Toyota Country Music Festival

The Toyota Country Music festival culminated in the televised Golden Guitar Awards which celebrated Australian country music. Sydney-based Live Event Services has been providing production for the past ten Golden Guitar Award ceremonies. 

“When I arrive in Tamworth before bump-in, the wall of heat smacks me in the face,” commented Colin Baldwin, Managing Director of Live Event Services. “I think of my colleagues from Eclipse at the park in the city bumping in for day and night shows in this heat and I’m grateful we work in TRECC!”

Most of the Live Event Services crew make the five-hour drive from Sydney. This year, three semi-trailers made the trip: one predominantly lighting, one audio and vision and the other LED screens, as well as a van full of camera gear. The popularity of the festival post-Covid caused the Live Event Services production team some headaches as accommodation has become so scarce.

The awards show is live with no pre-recorded music other than click track. The team worked closely with Brendan Radford, the Musical Director, with the band set up, sound checked and ready to start rehearsals on Friday morning as early as possible as it takes two days to rehearse the awards that go live on Saturday night. Every year, Baldwin strives to deliver a unique design for the existing venue stage, designing the rig to be visually interesting to the audience as well as for television and streaming.

“I’ve designed the lighting rig for the past ten years, and rarely do my lighting directors ask for changes to the rig design,” he commented. “Working with LED screens can be tricky, as you must consider LED screen content and iMAG (live to screen). The light show should be dominant during live performances and remain visually exciting without deterring from screen content.”

This year’s design featured one main screen, four separate rectangular screens and a barrier screen to mask the band. Their positioning allowed for a variety of lighting positions between each screen that aided camera angles, particularly for where presenters entered and exited the stage. Claypaky B-Eye K20s and a ladder of ShowPRO R3 LED wash/beam were rigged in these positions.

Overhead trusses held Claypaky Mythos 2s, ACME Pixel Lines and Martin MAC Quantum Washes plus a handful of fresnels. A front truss included Ayrton Mistrals plus fresnels and profiles. Audience lighting was by ACME XA400 Pro LED Spots and CM320 LED Washes. Lighting director Alex McCoy programmed the show on an MA Lighting grandMA3 XT console. Sean Costello from Big Day Media created the screen content in collaboration and under instruction by Peter Ross, the awards Producer. Brisbane’s Broadcast Zone supplied a five-camera shoot.

Live Event Services supplied their L-Acoustics KARA PA system with the main hangs comprising nine KARA loudspeakers per side flown with SB18 subwoofers and a centre hang of three KARA, all powered by two LA-RAK and two LA8 amps. Added to that were eight SB28 subwoofers. Outfill was two ARC loudspeakers flown per side whilst six 108p self-powered coaxial loudspeakers were used for nearfill. Foldback included eight L-Acoustics X12 wedges, one SB18 subwoofer, two LA4X amps, one SB15p subwoofer and eight stereo sends of Shure PSM1000 IEMs.

The front-of-house mix is done by Bradley Scott-Kemmis on an Allen & Heath dLive S7000. In the mixdown room, for the live broadcast, is an Allen & Heath dLive S5000 operated by Andrew Crawford described by Baldwin as the most helpful and knowledgeable person on the planet!

“This is our 10th consecutive year providing production and management for the awards and concerts held at TRECC,” remarked Baldwin. “We are very proud of our involvement in bringing the awards to life. Our relationship with the Tamworth Music Festival stems back sixteen years supplying production for several venues across the festival.”

Producer for the Golden Guitar Awards is industry veteran Peter Ross who commented, “Thank you, Baldwin. A huge thank you and congratulations to you and the team for doing a brilliant job of delivering the vision. You have outstanding passion and professionalism, and great to work with people in the team”.

“Peter Ross is an extremely talented producer, who is greatly respected by all who are fortunate to work with him,” commented Baldwin.

Live Event Services thanked Big Day Media, JPJ Audio, Chameleon Touring Systems, ELS, Broadcast Zone, Raw Energy and Rolling Rock Touring for their support with special mention to Producer Peter Ross, Festival Director Barry Harley and Robert Elsworthy and his team at TRECC.