Brown Note Productions, which works with STS9 and more, wins national lighting award

Categories: Music News
Britt Chester
Behind the "Big G Hive" created by Brown Note Productions
Brown Note Productions, Inc. is among the best lighting companies in the country, at least according to its new trophy. The Thornton-based production company won the Parnelli Award for "Hometown Hero Lighting Company of the Year" for 2013. The Parnellis, which is like the Oscars for production companies and event techs, scours the country in search of the best of the best through a rigorous regional nomination process, then a national nomination process, before finally settling in on the winners. We spoke with Sara Knutson, co-founder of Brown Note alongside her husband of eight years, Ryan, about what it means to win a Parnelli, and what it means to have cultivated a company from a two-car garage to a 27,000 sq. ft. warehouse.

The Parnelli Awards is the most prestigious award in the field of event production. Since 2001, The Parnellis have been awarding tour managers, front-of-house techs, sound engineers, lighting specialists, audio engineers, and companies that specialize in event production. The nomination process is based on votes, and ultimately agreed upon by a hand-picked board of advisors who are legends in their respective fields.

Brown Note was founded in 2004 when Sara and Ryan had the opportunity to produce an event for a data storage company. For Sara, whose work and education was based in event production, it simply meant stepping out on her own. For Ryan, it fell in line with his career in sound engineering and show production.

"The first real thing we did, and why we bought the gear we bought, was an event for a data storage company," Sara recalls. "But, what really launched us into the touring, live sound, and lighting was Sound Tribe Sector 9. Ryan got hired as the monitor engineer and six months later got promoted to front of house."

Once Ryan got in with STS9, he saw a need to step up the game for an act that would, by all accounts, take over the jamtronic scene for the next decade. Through a mutual connection between Ryan and Sara, a friend at Avid Technology, Inc. got them into the beta program for a new live show console, the Avid D-Show system. At the time, the Avid D-Show system was ahead of the game by developing a console that transformed analog control to a digital touring console. Brown Note still owns and uses the original D-Show system, which happens to be the very first one produced and marked with the serial number "0001."

Working with STS9 proved to be the best opportunity. Collaborating with legendary lighting designer Saxton Waller, the man who creates the psychedelic light show for STS9, Brown Note was now on the brink of exploding into the touring music market. Since then, you'd be hard pressed to find an act that Brown Note hasn't set the stage for at venues all over the country.

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