Isaac “Beams” McElderry (Employee Spotlight)
If you’ve ever been to the Top Hat, Wilma, or KettleHouse Amphitheater, you can surely bear witness to the great work of this fine gentleman.
As Assistant Technical Director, Isaac McElderry (AKA: Laser Beams, or “Beams” for short) is one of our talented techies that helps to ensure you, the concertgoer, has the best and highest quality experience possible.
Other than a couple short moves out of state, Isaac has called Montana home for most of his life and we’re beyond happy that he’s here. Learn more about Beams below.
Where are you from?
St. Ignatius, MT
How did you start working for Logjam?
I was doing the light show for a local band just after the Top Hat had been freshly renovated in 2013. Nick Checota simply asked if I’d be interested in doing lighting for more shows…
What’s your background in regard to tech theatre, lights, sound, etc? Did you go to college? Training? Previous jobs leading you here?
I went to the U of M but not with a background in the music business/industry. I guess I got started at The Wilma 7 or 8 years ago, pre Logjam Presents. A good friend of mine, Joey Connell (RIP), hired me on as a stagehand. That work then hooked me up with Hi-Tech Audio/Jay Straw building stages and PA for regional shows. Around this time I also met another local audio legend, Mike Jones. He hired me on to help build and run audio/lighting rigs for many regional concerts, that his company produced. Shortly after that I also got hired on at the Top Hat Lounge…So I guess through asking many silly questions and picking the brains of some of the best audio/concert entrepreneurs in region, as well as their willingness to teach and give me opportunities, lead to me being here…
What’s the best part about being Assistant Technical Director?
The best part about being Asst. Tech Director is getting to work with the motivated, dedicated and hardworking team that helps make this machine move. Everyone from our cleaning crew, to our production team, to the marketing department and so on, is a joy to work with. I’ve come to really appreciate all the friendships that have been cultivated through working for Logjam Presents. The immersion in live music and the technical gadgets I get to play with is pretty cool too…
What’s the most challenging part?
Troubleshooting within the live element. Something will often go wrong within the tech/production world, during a live show. Though it is sometimes a challenge to fix a situation all while keeping a show rolling, I embrace it.
Is there a certain type of show or genre you prefer to work?
Probably “jam” bands. I’m not a huge fan of the genre but I do love a show/event with lots of audio inputs and moving parts to keep me on my toes.
What makes Missoula special to you?
The people, the mountains and the rivers. This is home.
What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work?
Spending time with my girl, Alena and my dog, Duke, drinking beers with friends (or with myself), fishing, bowling, and travel when possible.
What was the best concert you’ve been to OFF the clock?
At our venues? My Morning Jacket at The Wilma, 10/5/13… Elsewhere? Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals at The Gorge, August 2003.
What was the best concert you’ve been to ON the clock?
Tedeschi Trucks Band was pretty good last summer at the Amphitheater.
Who are you listening to most right now?
My Morning Jacket, Hiatus Kaiyote, NAS, Radiohead, Anderson .Paak, July Talk
What is your favorite movie and book?
I’m kind of a sci-fi nerd so I love The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. I really don’t watch a lot of movies. I watch a lot of Bob Ross, though.
What’s your favorite meal at the Top Hat?
The Spicy Jerk Chicken Wrap. Simple dish but it’s great fresh and even better when leftover and cold, at the end of a long shift.
Do you have a favorite lyric/quote?
“Music is the last true voice of the human spirit. It can go beyond language, beyond age, and beyond color straight to the mind and heart of all people.” -Ben Harper
Do you recall any embarrassing/funny moment at work?
It was a packed show and I was on the lighting board for a touring musician at the Top Hat. I think a storm was a brewin’ in Missoula and a power surge hit the venue. I lost all control of the lighting console and all the lights on stage started freaking out for about a whole minute. The artist got super upset, stormed offstage and into his tour bus. The artist thought I was messing with him and trying to sabotage the show. It took our whole production crew to convince the tour manager that “the lighting guy” was not trying to mess with the artist on purpose. After about 30 minutes and some hard convincing from his own tour manager, the artist came back on stage and did almost a 3-hour second set. I set a scene on the lighting console and made zero changes during the remainder of the show. The crowd loved the long, second set and no refunds were issued. As per usual with live concerts, it all worked out in the end.
People would be surprised if they knew this about you:
I lived on the Big Island of Hawaii for 5 years surfing and framing/finishing luxury homes. I also had weekly gigs playing music at a couple of restaurants by da beach!
If you could have a superpower what would it be?
The ability to stop time, like Zack Morris.
What’s something that interests you that most people wouldn’t know?
I may be a gamer. Both board and video.