The Pooterland Interviews:
Lightshow Bob (Brotherhood Of Light)

6th February 2000

 

 

pOoTers pSycheDelic shAcK : How did you get into doing lightshows?

I got into doing lightshows by attending an early Stockville Light Express production in November of 1966 at Betty Hackett's Dance Studio on Harding Way near Pacific Ave. in Stockton, California. At one point in the show I asked them if I could help. They seemed a little short-handed and I was able to man the mirrored-wastebasket on a record turntable-light bouncing effect, with a slide projector. Throughout the next several weeks I worked with them on a regular basis until soon I was not only a projectionist but also co-wrote the newsletter and kept the bookkeeping.

 

pOoTers pSycheDelic shAcK : Who was your main influence, if any?

Brian Eppes was the only guy I knew at that time who was as totally dedicated to the lightshow as I was. He was open to new ideas and invited experimentation. We tried anything and everything to energize our visual experience.
Another friend, John Hardham, of Deadly Nightshade, was also very dedicated to lightshows and poster art.

 

pOoTers pSycheDelic shAcK : What bands did you work with?

A.B. Skhy, Ace Of Cups, Ainsley Dunbar, Albert King, All Men Joy, Aum, Bangor Flying Circus, Big Brother & The Holding Company, Bigfoot, Black Pearl, Blodwyn Pig, Blood Sweat And Tears Blue Cheer, Blue Grass Dakota, Blues Image, Bonzo Dog, Boz Scaggs, Bronze Hog, Buddy Guy, Buddy Miles Express, Byrds, Captain Beefheart, Cat Mother, Catfish, Charlatans, Charles Lloyd Charlie Musselwhite, Chicago, Chris Darrow, Chuck Berry, Cloud, Clover, Cold Blood, Collectors Colwell Winfield, Commander Cody, Congress Of Wonders, Country Joe + The Fish, Country Weather Band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Crome Cyrcus, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Crossfire, Crystal Syphon, Crystal Timetable, Curly Cooke, Da Da, Dan Hicks And His Hot Licks
Dandelion Wine, Devils Kitchen, Don Ellis And His Orchestra, Doug Kershaw, Dr. John The Night Tripper, Driscoll Auger, Earthquake, Elvin Bishop Group, Epics, Eric Burdon And His Band Family Fritz, Family Tree, Fat Matress, Flamin' Groovies, Fleetwood Mac, Flock, Fourth Way, Frank Zappa And The Mothers Of Invention, Fruminous Bandersnatch, Glass Family, Grand Funk Railroad, Grateful Dead, Grootna, Hot Tuna, Humble Pie, Ike And Tina Turner, Incredible String Band, Indian Headband, Indian Summer, Initial Shock, Iron Butterfly, It's A Beautiful Day, James Brown, James Cotton Blues Band, Jeff Beck, Jefferson Airplane, Jerry Hahn, Jethro Tull, Joan Baez, Joe Cocker, John Fahey, John Hammond, John Lee Hooker, John Mayall, John Sebastion, Johnny Winter, Joy Of Cooking, Junior Walker And The All Stars
Junior Wells, Kaleidoscope, Kimberly Kindred, Lamb, Led Zeppelin, Lee Michaels, Leon Russell, Liberty Street, Linda Ronstandt, Liquid, Little John, Lizard, Loading Zone, Lonnie Mack, Lynn County, MC5, Mad River, Marble Farm, Mark 4, Martha's Laundry, Melanie, Mike Bloomfield, Mike Bloomfield And Nick Gravenites With Southern Comfort, Miles Davis Quintet, Mint Tattoo, Mongo Santa Maria, Mother Bear, Mother Earth, Mott The Hoople, Mt. Rushmore, Nazgul, New Lost City Ramblers, New York Rock 'n Roll Ensemble, Norman Greenbaum And Gold, North California State Youth Choir, Notes From The Underground, Odetta, Osceola, Pacific Gas And Electric, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Peace, Pentangle, Petrus, Phoenix, Pink Floyd, Plague, Plastic Explosion, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Procol Harum, Pyewacket, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Ram Dass, Redwing, Retrus, Rockin', Roger Collins, Roland Kirk, Rockwell, Rubber Duck, Salvation, San Paku, Santana, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Savoy Brown, Sea Train, ShaNaNa, Shorty, Siegel Schwall, Silver Metre, Sir Douglas Quintet, Sly & The Family Stone, Small Faces with Rod Stewart, Soft Pretzel, Sons of Champlin, Spencer Davis Group, Spirit, Spooky Tooth, Staton Brothers, Steppenwolf, Steve Miller Blues Band, Stone Mans, Stone The Crows, Stoneground, Stonlikgod, Sutra, Sweet Linda Divine, Sweetwater, Taj Mahal, Technical Difficulties, Ten Years After, Terry Reid, Tim Buckley, Time Seekers, Tower Of Power, Traffic, Truk, Van Morrison, Venus, Victoria, Who, Wildflower, Womb, Woody Herman And His Orchestra, Yellow Brick Road, Yogi Phlegm, Youngbloods, Yusff Lateef and Zephyr.

 

pOoTers pSycheDelic shAcK : What lightshows have you worked with?

I was with Stockville Light Express for most of 1967. Brian and I moved to San Francisco in late summer of 1967. We were able to jam with other light artists at Straight Theater, including Jim Arnold, Reginald, Gary Ewing of Dr. P.H. Martins Magic Medicine Show, and Marc Maxman, who called his show Aerial Transit and had recently left North American Ibis Alchemical at the Avalon. Marc, Brian, and I formed a lightshow just before the WorkItOut ST-10 show (10/20/1967); we called it Brotherhood of Light. After 'Something Happening in Sebastapol', 11/11/1967, we stayed at Straight Theater until in May of 1968 we did lights for an Avalon show, FD-119, and then for the 'Spring Medicine Show', 5/28-29/1968.

After that we did some shows at the Carousel including the 'Fire Dance Benefit for Kelly', 6/12/1968 after his poster studio fire. The carousel kept us as their 'house lightshow' until they closed at the end of June. Then we were at the Sound Factory in Sacramento for two different weekends, 7/12-13/1968 and 8/9-10/1968. Finally, we did an audition weekend at Fillmore West, BG-134 on 8/30/1968 to 9/1/1968. Although our name wasn't on that poster, it was a memorable privilege to do lights with the unforgettable 'Preservation Hall Jazz Band' and the 'Grateful Dead' together. Bill Graham liked our show, and we stayed with him for nearly two years. While we were with Bill Graham, we took advantage of our weekends off to play one last Avalon show, 2/7-9/1969, and Family Dog on The Great Highway on 7/11-13/1969 (where I saw the moon landing) and 8/15-17/1969. I also took the lightshow to Fresno (Paul Butterfield + Taj Mahal) on 3/7/1970, and to Stockton for a music festival on 4/2/1970.
The last Brotherhood of Light show at Fillmore West was BG-242 on 7/9-12/1970. I see myself as the surfer in poster BG-242, just as I saw myself as the lion (I'm a Leo) on BG-134.

In the late spring of 1970, my partners, Brian and Ed, had left, and Bill Graham was talking about shutting down. I took an offer to do the lightshow at Pepperland in San Rafael with the promise of full creative control. We had great shows there, but in April of 1971 the promoters skipped town with the box office and left everyone unpaid. Many of us tried to revive Pepperland, but in December of 1971 it closed.
I called my Lightshow Brotherhood of Light then and continued to call it that until September of 2000 when Chris Samardich called me and I learned of his existence. Can you imagine my surprise? I had no idea that all through the 70's, 80's, and 90's that there was another Brotherhood of Light. The tenacity of Ed and Brian's dedication to lightshows caught me by surprise. I would have been there with them if I had only known. I have used the name 'Brotherhood of Light' here in Hawaii, but now call the local lightshow 'Brotherhood of Light/Hawaii'. The lightshow art that I make with my current partner, Airin Corbin, is our new venture, 'Universoulightforms', and I would like to be known now under this name.

 

pOoTers pSycheDelic shAcK : Where did the name come from?

After we realized that we wanted to become a lightshow group we considered many names. (I still have the list). After much discussion, Marc pulled out the Tarot deck he carried everywhere with him. It was the 'Brotherhood of Light' Tarot deck. We agreed that we were brothers in light, and assuming that the Tarot card people wouldn't care anyway, we decided right there in the balcony of Straight Theater, we decided to call ourselves 'Brotherhood of Light', without the 'The'.

 

pOoTers pSycheDelic shAcK : What equipment did you start out using, why did you use it and what did you change? What do you use currently?

In Stockville Light Express, we had every kind of odd shaped old-fashioned slide projector. Occasionally, a fellow showed up with a Super 8 Movie projector, which was fun when it worked. We were making payments to 3M for a new overhead projector and had a second old 3M. In San Francisco we bought some used equipment from Jim Arnold consisting of overheads, carousels, and a 16 mm movie projector. Marc also had overhead projectors. We found 4 glass lens Victorlight overhead projectors at the surplus store on Market St.
We modified these old projectors from 500-watt single fan to 1200-watt double fan. They got very hot sometimes, and a couple times the glass lens cracked from the heat. In 1968, we bought 12 carousels from Ben Van Meter when 'North American Ibis Alchemical Co.' ended. We bought 6 new Prado slide projectors with 150 mm lens' for the long shot at Fillmore West. We used DC motors for the color wheels, and had a panel to control their speed. We then, as now, always project a slide into a revolving prism. I was making 16 mm movies in 1969 for our film loops, outside stuff, time exposures, and studio work. We got a 6-mw laser from Palo Alto in late 1969. We did many interesting things with it, but it was never my favorite toy. My favorite
areas in this art form are liquids and then photography. Fractals are also an important part of our lightshow. Our shows were always interesting to me. I have always been concerned with balance and harmony of the artwork as well as sharpness and brightness and subject content with relation to the music.
Back in the heyday of Brotherhood of Light at Fillmore West we used up to 6 overhead projectors, as many as 18 slide projectors, and 3 16mm movie projectors. Nowadays, we just use 4 carousels with a dissolve unit and a modified 3M overhead projector. My partner Airin and I occasionally do a show here on the Big Island. I have a serious personal commitment to lightshow art, it is my life.
I will always be doing lightshows. Nowadays, I guess that video projectors are used by a lot of lightshows. They sound like a useful tool to me and I look forward to playing with one someday, but for now, and for the shows I remember, using LOTS of projectors is the way of the lightshow.

 

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