FZ Predicts: Guerilla Sound Reinforcement for the 99%

“The CIA had Powder Ridge,
and other rock music events,
under surveillance…”

Mic Check-Fact Check-History Check:

Peace Activist Brad Little is to be credit with inventing the Cranially Mounted Electro-Acoustic Distributed Array, an element of which is illustrated here by Freeman Z as he displays his “Hel-Horn.” (helmet+horn) which affixes an aggressive acoustical snout firmly atop the wearer’s skull.

Brad Little created an array of University IB-A horn loudspeakers mounted on helmets in response to state repression of public speech , according to Sound Engineer Bill Hanley who helped to creating the means to deploy sonic support onto a “festival” site. For the first time, a festival can happen anywhere, and more spontaneously. One innovation born in Bill’s little workshop, formed largely by his own head and hands, is the Magic Stage, which unfolds from a tractor-trailer into a covered stage, metamorphosing rapidly rather like a “Transformer” toy. Folding stages are now in common use.

Well, guess what?

Bill’s participation in protest amplification happened after he’d invested his personal resources in providing sound reinforcement and stage services for the 1969 Powder Ridge Rock Festival, called by some, “the Woodstock that never happened.”

The Medford, Massachusetts native, had designed, built and operated the original Woodstock Festival sound system and to some extent also the stage, a structure whose primary design criterion, preventing a stage rush from the audience, was achieved. Few folks remember that Woodstock also featured a second “open” stage. Much of the Woodstock system served for years in illegal “mixed-race” concerts in Soweto Township, South Africa, perhaps helping to brew the peaceful revolution which brought Nelson Mandela from prison to power.

Hanley was also chief engineer and partners with Bill Graham at the Fillmore East around this time. He was arrested for his role in perpetrating and attempting a heinous act of amplifying Sly Stone and others at the 1970 Powder Ridge Rock Festival. Because authorities tried to prevent the event, thirty thousand people showed up to find no facilities. It gets worse. (moar about Powder Ridge) Woodstock entertained an estimated five hundred thousand, more than twice the intended crowd.

By 1970, rock festivals were regarded as having a political dimension. Carol Brightman wrote that “Rock shows… such as the Powder Ridge concert… were increasingly being covered by the national media as civil events, one step removed from street demonstrations.” The CIA had Powder Ridge, like other rock events, under surveillance (more)

The future of sound reinforcement?

Freeman says “We will see smaller and less conspicuous personal sound reinforcement systems …mini-megaphones if you will, powered by modern high-efficiency amplifiers. These will be linkable, at the wearer’s whim, with other wearers’ transducers such that each participant in the network can repeat, ignore or challenge others at will, creating a communal consciousness. Such networks may impose protocol among the users to maximize the quality of conversation, a new sort of Robot’s Rules of Order, if you will”