The Saddle Rack is Northern California’s premier country and western music venue, offering home-cooked food, cold drinks, live music and an energetic dancefloor to an enthusiastic crowd that spans multiple generations. As well as presenting music from a popular house band and other local performers, the club has recently begun to welcome more nationally touring artists which is why the management decided it was time to modernize the venue’s outdated lighting system.
Since it opened in August 1976, the Saddle Rack has attracted country and western music fans from across Northern California for more than four decades. Originally located in San Jose, the venue moved to its present home in 2001 following the sale of the property on which its original building stood. The current Saddle Rack in Fremont features a large stage, seven bars, a diner, two dancefloors and even a mechanical bull! The club opens four nights a week offering free line dancing lessons in the early evening followed by live music on most nights and two bands every Saturday.
Following a period of focusing on local talent, the venue’s management has recently started to once again book nationally touring performers. In the past the venue has been a popular tour stop for many well-established country artists and it is well on the way to re-establishing this reputation. However, in the modern music industry, lighting is important and the club’s management recognized that their current system – predominantly consisting of incandescent Par 56 cans – wasn’t up to the expectations of national headliners and was in need of renovation.
Warren Brown – the owner of sound and lighting suppliers CLUB DJ – has been a patron of The Saddle Rack since the ‘80s, so it was only natural that his expertise was sought out for the lighting upgrade. The venue’s Sound and Lighting Manager, Polo Jones, and his team visited CLUB DJ’s San Jose store on multiple occasions to see demonstrations of potential fixtures and also to discuss with Warren The Saddle Rack’s requirements and budget. Together they decided that ADJ’s Inno Spot Pro was the ideal fixture to complement the existing Par can setup and introduce moving beam and GOBO projection effects.
“Over the course of several months I was able to show various options to Polo and his crew and make sure that what they eventually went ahead and purchased was the perfect fit for The Saddle Rack,” explained Warren. “A clear emphasis was reliability, which is why I steered them towards ADJ and the Inno Spot Pro. It’s a fairly large venue, but the LED-powered fixtures were more than up to the task of filling the space with movement and color and sat perfectly alongside the existing Par cans.”
A total of ten Inno Spot Pros, 80W LED moving heads, have now been installed at The Saddle Rack. Four run across the back of the stage, interspersed with the Pars, to provide crowd-facing beam effects and GOBO projection onto the stage. Another two have been installed Front of House for use as spotlights so that performers can be illuminated even if they move to the far sides of the stage. Finally, the remaining six fixtures have been positioned around a circular truss in the middle of the room, which provides lighting for the club’s large main dancefloor. Warren also installed a 12” ADJ (M-1212) mirror ball at the center of this circle, allowing the beams from the Inno Spot Pros to be reflected to create a room-filling effect.
Prior to this lighting upgrade, no fog or haze effects were used at The Saddle Rack, however Warren explained to Polo and his team that some form of atmospheric effect generator would be essential to make the most of their moving head investment. The decision was made when they saw ADJ’s Fog Fury Jett high velocity vertical Fog Machine in action at CLUB DJ’s showroom. They were so impressed by the high-impact effect of the unit’s fog blasts infused with RGBA LED lighting that they bought four of the fixtures. These now provide dramatic effects on the venue’s stage as well as generating the beam-enhancing hazy atmosphere that ensures the Inno Spot Pro’s beams really pop.
For control of the new lightshow, Warren recommended ADJ’s myDMX 3.0 software which CLUB DJ’s programming expert Robert Ramirez used to create a variety of Scenes and Chases. These can now easily be recalled by the club’s Sound and Lighting Operator, Brian Gibbs, to match with the tempo and style of the music at any given time.
With quite a distance between club’s control booth and stage, Warren and his team used ADJ’s WiFLY EXR Battery Transceivers to wirelessly transmit the DMX control signal from the booth to the lighting rig. This removed the need for unsightly cables running around the club and also made the installation much easier. A total of three of the WiFLY EXR Battery Transceivers were used: one at the booth, one on the lighting rig above the dancefloor and one at the rear of the stage.
“Polo and the club’s management are really happy with the new system,” Warren enthused, “and they are now in a position to meeting the lighting requirements of headline performers when they visit the club. The Inno Spot Pros are doing a fantastic job and look great alongside the existing Par cans. The whole system is also very flexible, which is important at The Saddle Rack, as it needs to cover everything from line dance lessons to headline concerts. The ADJ equipment has also proved very reliable. It has to work very hard, running for long hours four/five nights a week, and there hasn’t been a single issue since the system was installed back in the spring.“
As the Bay Area’s largest country club, The Saddle Rack is a natural tour stop for national artists. Now, thanks to Warren and the team from CLUB DJ, as well as ADJ’s affordable, reliable and powerful lighting fixtures, the venue has a lighting system to match!
The Saddle Rack
42011 Boscell Road, Fremont, CA 94538
CLUB DJ, San Jose California
Sound and Lighting Manager:
Polo Jones, Tool Shed Studio
Sound and Lighting Operator:
Brian Gibbs, Tool Shed Studio
12 x ADJ Inno Spot Pro
1 x ADJ M-1212 Mirror Ball
3 x ADJ WiFLY EXR Battery Transceiver
4 x ADJ Fog Fury Jett
1 x ADJ MyDMX 3.0
Accu-Cable DMX cables