Mid-Week Intermission Staff Edition: Riley Burgess, Long Center’s House AV Technician
Time to take a look behind the curtain, uhh… actually, behind the audio console! It’s a busy month at the Long Center, and that means our production staff are doing what they do best — making magic happen on stage. So catch up with Riley Burgess, our House AV Technician (that’s audio-visual), in today’s Mid-Week Intermission to get a glimpse of the work it takes to make a show unforgettable.
Hi y’all, I am Riley Burgess
Growing up here in Austin, TX, I’ve been around music my entire life. My younger sister’s been a very successful cello player from a young age, my dad is in a local band, and my mom is in the Audio Archiving industry. I played upright bass in orchestra throughout middle-high school, picked up drums as well, and still play in my free time.
After graduating high school, I took classes at Austin Community College to learn the audio engineering trade, and soon after I got a passion for live sound. I started mixing bands at a variety of music venues around Austin and mixed a few regional festivals, too. I did some work at the Scottish Rite Theatre working comedy shows, album release shows, and children’s theatre. Later on, I started touring with a few bands as well as a puppet show! I did a lot of AV (that’s audio-visual) work for conferences at hotels and the convention center. I also learned video and rigging.
When the pandemic hit, all in-person stagehand and entertainment work stopped. I did work as an electrical apprentice and learned much more than I expected in such a short period of time. It was an amazing learning experience for me, and I now have a deeper understanding of mechanical things. When live events picked back up I was able to continue working AV again. The opportunity to work for the Long Center came up in 2022 and I was glad I took it! Very glad to be here!
Every work day is a little different. Some days are longer than others and may require coming in at a different time of the day than others. Typically, I come in and check for any updates on equipment needs. Depending on the day, I’ll gather equipment on carts to set up in Dell Hall or sometimes Kodosky. We are very fortunate to have time to perform maintenance and to have the tools to make necessary repairs as needed.
Once a week the production department will meet to discuss our shows and events coming up. I’m looking forward to the Concert Club shows as well as what’s coming up in Dell Hall. We are preparing for future upgrades in our AV system and looking forward to that, too.
My creativity comes out the most when I’m mixing a music group no matter the genre. Microphone selection is both a creative process and a mathematic process. Placement of microphones and on-stage speakers require some creativity to make sure instruments and the talent have enough coverage. If appropriate, I’ll use reverb and delay effects to emphasize certain passages in the lyrics. Other creativity comes out when new gear is installed and mounting hardware needs to be custom made.
Okay, speed round!
Favorite behind-the-scenes part of the LC?
I really love our patchbays! They allow us to route audio and video signals to specific parts of Dell Hall and the other spaces in the building. I also find sanctuary at the workbench to make audio and video cables.
Any advice for audio up-and-comers?
Never be afraid to ask questions! Follow audio-video manufacturers on social media and learn the theories involved. Learning to repair your gear is important and it will help you become more conscious of the way the electricity flows to create that picture or that sound.
Also, advocate for yourself and others to make the live event production industry even better to work in.
If touring with bands is something you wanna do, you gotta get out there and network. Mixing a band’s set at a venue could land you a tour.
Lastly, always be punctual and mix with intention. Be yourself, people will like you for you.
Just for fun — what are you listening to right now?
I listen to a wide variety of music. From Paganini to Ringo Deathstarr, and Black Sabbath to Sharon Jones. Lately, I’ve been listening to Robert Glasper’s album Black Radio as well as Duster’s album Stratosphere.
At the Long Center, we’ve always got a new partnership or something cool we know you’ll want to check out! Find and follow us @longcenter on your social media platform of choice, and we’ll see you real soon.