Craig Stahl

Roadie of the Month September 2007

               Tommy Fulscher is this months "Roadie of the Month". Tommy has been a touring lighting designer and technician for many years. He started in Illinois as a local stagehand and soon was working for Pete's Lights in Chicago. Tommy's first tour was Christian artist DeGarmo & Key. He traveled extensively with them doing every type of gig imaginable. Working at Pete's Lights was a good place to learn to be flexible in show business. Tuesday you might gig at a club, Wednesday it could be Mexican boxing at the old Aragon Ballroom. Thursday might find you trying to load in an industrial convention at the massive McCormick Place convention center. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday would find you back on the road lighting any number of national and regional music acts. Monday morning unload it back in the shop and start all over. Whew! A whole lot of work but what a way to learn all aspects of the lighting business. Later on in his career Tommy working for Vari-Lite, moved to the metropolis of Branson, Missouri to help install and design the state of the art Mel Tillis Theater. Mel spared no expense and built an awesome facility. Tommy stayed on as the lighting director and lit many different musical and theatrical acts in addition to daily shows with Mel Tillis and the Statesiders.
       Mmmel Tttillis            
Tommy relocated to Nashville, Tennessee in 1995 to go to work for Bandit Lites. Bandit was experiencing massive growth and Tommy had the opportunity to work on a lot of interesting gigs. Tours with such artists as Jimmy Buffet, The Offspring, Melissa Etheridge, Reba McEntire, The Allman Brothers Band and many, many more. Tommy left the musical world for a while to tour with the entertainment extravaganza known as the World Wrestling Federation or WWF. Tommy was introduced to the fast pace and hard work that went into playing shows in all the biggest stadiums and arenas in the world. Tommy not only loaded in and out the lights for the WWF, he even appeared in an episode or two of the WWF television show. Tommy was soundly pummeled by female wrestling superstar Chyna. Poor guy!

After many tours and traveling around the world numerous times, Tommy made a huge life change. He left Bandit Lites and started a new landscape lighting company in Franklin, Tennessee called Distinctive Light. Tommy and his wife Marla are excited about the future in high end landscape lighting. Tommy still goes on the road occasionally with Nashville based tours as a set carpenter and still does some freelance lighting gigs. After lighting the superstars of country music on stage he now designs, installs, and lights their houses and yards, inside and outside. Distinctive Light continues to grow at a fast pace and Tommy's plan is to continue to grow the business at a pace that will take him off the road in the next year or two.  
                             Some of Tommy's Handiwork

                              On Tour with Joe Satriani
                Tommy with Michael Tait and the Dc Talk crew


       The Big Comfy Couch Cast & Crew


   Tommy and wife Marla
       with Barry Manilow


    Mel Tillis performs at his
     Theater in Branson, MO.

       What A Mess!    

WrestleMania Crew

  tobyMac of Dc Talk
  mugs for the camera


20 Questions with Tommy Fulscher


Name / Place of Residence / Family

Tommy Fulscher, I live in Franklin, TN. with my lovely wife Marla.


2. Profession/Occupation

Lighting Technician, Set Carpenter, and I own my own small business, called       Distinctive Light. We design and install high end landscape lighting. We also design and install interior lighting.



3. Current Gig / How Long?

Alan Jackson / on and off since 1996



4. Who else have you worked for?

Brooks and Dunn, Reba, Melissa Etheridge, The Offspring, The Pretenders, Survivor, Whiskey River, Jimmy Buffet, Russ Taff, Whitecross, DeGarmo and Key, Maze, Patti Labelle, SageBrush,  Vanilla Ice, Pixies, Dr Dre and Snoop Dog, Barry Manilow, Lenny and the Liemloids, WWF ( You know big guys in spandex tights), Johnny Gill, DC Talk, Allman Brothers Band, Carmen, Material issue, Deana Carter, String Cheese Incident, Ice shows, Car shows, Festivals, Amway and let me tell you how that changed my life, Countless one offs.



5. Instruments played

I own a piano and a guitar.



6. Do you write songs?

Boy do I!



7. Place of Birth

Beardstown, IL

         Just a simple little wrasslin' match!


8. Where did you grow up?

Watseka, IL


                                                     Michael Tait of DC Talk

9. Who were your musical influences growing up?

Styx, Reo Speedwagon, The Police, Zeppelin, Chicago, Peter Frampton, Rush, Moody Blues, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Kansas, and just about anything made from1964 to 1979.



10. Who / What was the first live musical performance you experienced?

ELO -Electric Light Orchestra 



 11. What do you remember most about those performances?

The lights and the set, The music and the string section.



12. Best live performance / concert you have attended? What made it special?

A toss up between Steve Winwood and Rush. When Winwood played a set full of his old stuff and just walked around on stage and played everything up there. And Rush a few years ago when they played 2112 for the first set.



13. What music is in your CD player or I-Pod right now?

The Traveling Wilburys new 3 disc album.



14. Tell us how you got into show business

I went down to a gig in Chicago and helped my friend take down the stage. I joined a local crew that he worked on and a few months later I was in a truck leaving town.

                                                     Lighting Crew for The Offspring


15.  What advice can you give to someone who is trying to break into show business?

From my point of view, the view of a roadie there is no book or school that can prepare you for what you will face. The best thing you can do is work some small gigs, get a job in a sound, lighting or video shop and learn all you can from the older guys. Work your way up, don’t try to take a shortcut. If you are going to get into this for the long haul do not go out on some big gig right away until you’re totally ready, or else you will hate it. Also figure out what your interests are. Find one area what ever it may be and do your best. 



16. What factors and strengths have made you so successful at your craft/job

Just do your best, and have a good time all of the time.



                 Tommy always the ham! 
             ToTmmTTomy always the ham!!

17. What has been your favorite job in show business?

Lighting Tech



18. What is your favorite music venue?

Greek Theatre and the Thirsty Whale.

             Tommy and Jason Robinson working hard at Wrestlemania



19. What is your favorite city to visit?

Vancouver,BC and Chicago



20. What are your future plans?

Continue to grow our small business, Distinctive Light




21. Take us through a typical day on the job.

 When I am on the road its as follows. Wake up to rigger Dans alarm that he can not find, then listen to him smack his head on the roof of his bunk and realize "hey I should get up soon". Make some Coffee, go to catering. Unload my truck, push my carts in and get ready for the day.  Then set up the gear, do a show and turn around and load it back on the truck. Then cap off the day with an icy cold sponsor, some bus food and a few stories.                                       

                       Editor Note: And Tommy can tell some stories! 



Bonus Question: Do you own any real estate?

  Yes, My wife and I own a house in Franklin, TN

                               Another Hard Day at the Office


Give us some words of wisdom on any subject, or tell us something about yourself or a funny showbiz story.  

   I am living proof that you can do anything you set your mind to.

 Thanks Tommy, I am surprised he didn't finish with a funny story, because as anyone who has toured with Tommy over the years knows...he is a very funny guy. When you work on the road with Tommy Fulscher you also work with Jim Carey, Bill Clinton, Don Knotts, G. Gordon Liddy, and hundreds of other voices and celebrities. Tommy also doubles the size of your crew because he does voices and mannerisms of just about everybody on the road crew. He also does a bang up imitation of just about everybody at Bandit Lites, and of course his spot on imitation of Hall of Fame baseball announcer Harry Carey! Tommy has talked in Harry's voice all over the country and even fooled 20,000 fans in Chicago while talking into a backstage microphone. Everybody there thought it was Harry. If you ever meet Tommy tell all 157 people living in his body hello. You will have a great time!

                                          Email Tommy

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