Parnelli Awards Dazzles, Surprises, Inspires

by Kevin M. Mitchell
in Features

Charlie Hernandez at the 2012 Parnelli Awards

The one thing you can expect at the Parnelli Awards is the unexpected. That was certainly true at the 12th Annual Parnelli Awards gala held Oct. 20, 2012 at the Mirage Las Vegas when Jake Berry (Tour Manager for Madonna, U2) showed up, followed by rocker Billy Squier, who spoke briefly and then thrilled the audience with a spirited performance of some of his songs. Both wanted to surprise Lifetime Achievement Honoree Charlie Hernandez, and that they did (and everyone else).

Dave Shadoan at the 2012 Parnelli AwardsThe other Parnelli lifetime honorees included rigger Joe Branam (Parnelli Visionary) and Sound Image founders Dave Shadoan and the late Ross Ritto (Parnelli Audio Innovator). But those weren’t the only highlights.

Terry Lowe, executive producer of the Parnelli Awards and publisher of PLSN, FOH, EPD and Stage Directions

“It was great to have Cory Wells of Three Dog Night host the awards,” says executive producer Terry Lowe. “He’s one of the premier artists of rock, and his wonderful stories were insightful and entertaining.” Wells had a direct connection with some of the shows previous achievement honorees, noting that Jim Bornhorst (Visionary, 2010) got his start driving the Three Dog truck and Gerry Stickells (Lifetime Achievement, 2007) was the band’s tour manager in the early 1970s. They were early clients of then fledgling sound companies Showco and Clair Brothers during that period, as well.

Emcee Cory Wells of Three Dog Night at the 2012 Parnelli Awards

Jake Berry at the 2012 Parnelli Awards

“I am thrilled to be here at the Parnelli Awards,” Wells said at the opening of his speech. “I know how hard you work, how your talent makes my band’s performances better.”

A Night of Honors

High End Systems’ Richard Belliveau, the 2009 Parnelli Visionary honoree, started the show off by handing the Lighting Designer of the Year Award to Baz Halpin for his work with Katy Perry’s recent tour.

A little later, lighting designer and performer Susan Rose gave the Set/Scenic Designer of the Year Award to Bruce Rodgers for his work on Madonna’s Super Bowl Halftime Show. Like Halpin, Rodgers took to the stage and thanked the crowd for the honor.

Rocky Paulson presented Joe Branam with the Parnelli Visionary AwardJoe Branam at the 2012 Parnelli AwardsRigger Rocky Paulson came out to talk about Branam, reminding the packed house of production professionals how much rigging has changed since the “Disney Riggers” team got into rock and roll in the early1970s. The documentary on Branam’s life played and Branam was so moved, he had to be reminded that he needed to come up to the stage. When he did come up, the retiring Branam brought his wife with him — along with his son and daughters, who will be continuing the legacy at Branam Enterprises.

Jim Digby, Production Manager of the Year

Production Manager of the Year honoree Jim Digby seemed genuinely moved by the process, especially receiving his award from the legendary Patrick Stansfield. “I’d like to express my extreme gratitude for being a part of this years Parnellis,” Digby said. “I am honored to have received the award at the hand of Patrick Stansfield. I am honored to have sat amongst the greatness in the room on this evening. I am humbled to have simply been nominated and more so to have won the award in the field of other nominees.”

Audio Gets Its Due

Kevin Glendinning, Monitor Mixer of the Year

FOH editor George Petersen and Parnelli winner Robert Scovill

Wells returned to the stage and handed out Best FOH Mixer honors to Robert Scovill for his work with Tom Petty. Then Scovill returned with FRONT of HOUSE magazine editor George Petersen to present, taking some good-natured shots at their LD friends. Scovill claimed to be excited about giving out a new award, one that went to the “Most Overpaid Lighting Diva.” After pretending to open an envelope, he proclaimed: “Look, George — a five way tie!” Monitor Mixer of the Year went to Kevin Glendinning (Maroon 5) with the Audio System Tech of the Year nod going to Vic Wagner (Taylor Swift).

Special guest Billy Squier performed at the 2012 Parnelli AwardsThe evening oscillated between sincerity and hilarity, with Shadoan, for example, expressing heartfelt gratitude for his late partner, Ross Ritto, then taking some time to share with the audience some authentic roadie vernacular. Brad Paisley’s hilarious deadpan tribute to Shadoan also brought down the house (“I don’t know what he does... He just shows up backstage, eats my catering, drinks whatever he can find back there and smokes a Cuban cigar. So if that’s the kind of thing you honor someone for, then Dave is your guy.”) Jimmy Buffet and Jason Mraz also sent in entertaining video tributes.

Michael MacDonald from ATK Audiotek joined Audio Innovator Award winner Dave Shadoan in presenting a tribute to the late Ross RittoMichael MacDonald, the newly named president of ATK Audiotek, introduced Shadoan. “I met Dave when Ross introduced us backstage at a Jimmy Buffet concert,” he said. “Dave was wearing his signature Hawaiian print shirt, shorts and a pair of flip-flops. At the time I thought ‘Wow, this guy will costume-up in band motif to make the client happy — what a great sales stunt!’ … little did I know ….” And in introducing Shadoan’s documentary, he quipped: “I understand it’s the first Parnelli movie rated ‘R’ for language …” But for all his joking, Shadoan was notably moved by honor.

PLSN editor Justin Lang and columnist Vickie Claiborne gave out the final awards of the evening, including best lighting company of the year, which went to PRG. Then Lang introduced the Charlie Hernandez portion of the program, which included a video tribute from Sting. Jake Berry also produced a video tribute for Hernandez, apologizing for his absence while on tour with Madonna in Texas, but as the video faded, Berry himself appeared — in person.

Dave Shadoan, Patrick Stansfield and Charlie Hernandez at the 2012 Parnelli Awards

A Call to Action

After taking the stage to accept the honor, Hernandez expressed his thanks, and extended his gratitude to a long roster of fellow roadies, then ended with a plug for his non-profit organization,, and the difference every one of us can make every day, issuing a challenge for all to do more for those in need.

“Send us $20 once a month — skip Starbucks one day,” he said, adding, “We roadies are the first ones in and the last ones out, and there is no one better than us to the lead the way. We are all one-percenters…we are the mad ones. The ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like roman candles across the night.

“We can be the one-percent solution. One cent from a dollar, six seconds from an hour. If we all put in it will add up to something extraordinary.” To encourage any who might be skeptical about the difference they could really make, Hernandez cited examples where members of the industry worked together, accomplishing seeming impossible tasks under the most difficult conditions possible. This began with co-producing a benefit concert in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia that raised nearly $8 million for the relief efforts in the aftermath of the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami in 2005. Later, this evolved into more direct projects, such as delivering supplies and medical personnel in and out of Port-au-Prince, Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, as well as delivering more than a half-million meals to relief efforts in Haiti and Pakistan. He also emphasized the need for such humanitarian projects to follow through and ensure that the assistance was delivered directly to caregivers, hospitals and relief workers, rather than simply being dropped off somewhere when it could be usurped by black marketeers.

A Night to Remember

Hernandez’ poignant call to action for the entire industry wrapped up the evening on an emotional, inspirational and uplifting note, and there was barely a dry eye in the room as he recalled numerous examples where the lives of families and children were saved by the generosity of others.

Patrick Stansfield spoke of the Parnelli Scholarship, which benefits the Entertainment Engineering Design Program at UNLVOther distinguished presenters including PLSN/FOH publisher Terry Lowe, Patrick Stansfield, Peter Hendrickson, Dean Roney and Steve Cohen.

The show was a measurable success in many ways, including the fact that the sell-out crowd stayed until the end. Also, within 72 hours of the end credits, two sponsors had already signed on to support 2013’s Parnelli event: EFM Management and Stagemaker. Overall, it was a most memorable event.

And the 2012 Parnelli Award winners were:

Parnelli Lifetime Achievement Award

Charlie Hernandez

Parnelli Visionary Award

Joe Branam

Parnelli Audio Innovator Award

Dave Shadoan & Ross Ritto

Lighting Company of the Year:

Production Resource Group

Hometown Hero Lighting Company of the Year:

Precise Corporate Staging

Lighting Designer of the Year:

Baz Halpin

Set/Scenic Designer of the Year :

Bruce Rodgers

Sound Image won for Best Sound Company of the Year. Michael Adams accepted the award.Sound Company of the Year:

Sound Image

Top Hometown honors went to Delicate Productions. Pictured here are George Edwards and Jason Alt.Hometown Hero Sound Company of the Year:

Delicate Productions

Robert Scovill won for FOH Engineer of the YearFOH Mixer of the Year:

Robert Scovill

Monitor Mixer of the Year:

Kevin Glendinning

System Tech of the Year Vic WagnerAudio System Tech of the Year:

Vic Wagner

Video Rental Company of the Year:

XL Video

Video Director of the Year:

Richard Turner

Staging Company of the Year:

Mountain Productions

Rigging Company of the Year:

Atlanta Rigging Systems

Set Construction Company of the Year:

All Access Staging and Productions

Pyro Company of the Year:

Strictly FX

Production Manager of the Year:

Jim Digby

Tour Manager of the Year:

Marguerite Nguyen

Coach Company of the Year:

Diamond Coach

Trucking Company of the Year:

Upstaging Inc.

Freight Forwarding Company of the Year:

Rock-It Cargo

Indispensable Technology Awards


Martin Professional MAC Aura

The Indispensable Technology award went to Yamaha for its CL series consoles. Pictured here, with a Las Vegas showgirl, is FOH editor George Petersen and Larry Italia, VP/GM of Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems.Audio:

Yamaha CL Digital Console Series


Christie M Series Projectors


StageCo Arena Lift

Sponsors of the 2012 Parnelli Awards:

Gold Sponsors: All Access Staging & Productions, Bandit Lites, Branam Enterprises, Brown United, CT Touring, Epic Production Technologies, Gallagher Staging & Productions, Harman International (AKG, BSS, Crown,  dbx, JBL, Soundcraft), JH Audio, Leprecon, Littlite, Martin Audio, Meyer Sound, Precise Corporate Staging/Dedicated Staging, Rock-it-Cargo, Screenworks NEP, Sennheiser/K-array/Neumann, Solotech, Sound Image, Stagemaker, Strictly FX, Tait Towers, Tannoy/Lab.gruppen, Tour Tech East, Ltd., Ultratec Special Effects Inc., Upstaging

Silver Sponsors: Chauvet, Elation Professional, Hemphill Brothers, Pyrotek Special Effects, XL Video, Yamaha/NEXO

Production  Partners: Access Pass & Design, On Stage Audio (OSA), PRG, SGA, Stage Crew, Techni-Lux, TPI (Technical Productions Inc.).

Cocktail Sponsor: Chaos Visual Productions

Parnelli Golf Tournament Sponsors

4Wall, Branam Enterprises, CPR Rentals, Daktronics, Doug Fleenor Design, Production Solutions International, IntelliEvent, Precise Corporate Staging, ProCases, Solotech, Tomcat, XL Video

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