late 1960's

Light Show


It was the sixties, a time of unrest and counterculture. Teens like me were captivated by rock music and the psychedelic imagery that came along with it. Johnathan Crawford – one of my high school classmates – suggested that we team up and make a light show. Psychedelic moving images projected behind rock bands were being performed at concerts in New York and San Francisco and we could do the same in Cincinnati. I followed Johnathan’s lead into this magical world. We drafted some of our friends as partners in our lightshow company named “FlavorScope” and accumulated equipment like overhead projectors, carousel slide projectors, 16mm movie projectors, color wheels, concave glass dishes, colored oil and water.

But we needed imagery. I started making high contrast black and white copies of psychedelic patterns. We hand-made 16mm films by drawing on the film stock and coloring it with magic markers. We spliced the film into loops. It was a time of experimentation and we loved it. < > One day Johnathan got the group together and told us there was a new place opening up in his neighborhood which would be presenting rock concerts. We were going to be doing the light shows and the first one was for The Grateful Dead! That was November 30, 1968. I was 16 years old and my older brother had to drive me to the show!

We spent the next 2 years of our high school nights and weekends working the lively concert scene in Cincinnati. The Ludlow Garage concert venue opened with us as the house light show. The Allman Brothers, Santana, Butterfield Blues Band, and dozens more bands performed in front of our light shows. It was a great experience that I fell into and I embraced the adventure and thrills it provided. For me it was a perfect combination of art, technology and experimentation.

As we graduated from high school and went off to different colleges the concert scene was winding down and we disbanded FlavorScope.  I went off to Union College in Schenectady NY. I had to pick a major when I started freshman year and I went down the list of options provided at Union and  crossed off the ones I wasn’t interested in. The last one on the list, perhaps an afterthought, was philosophy – it chose me.

The music for the video below is Santana live at the Ludlow Garage – recorded from the mixing panel in the late 1960’s, a concert that I worked doing the light show (but not the one in the video.)