I used to hang out and comment on stuff on The Light Network, years ago. An online place for lighting roadies to chat. Before PLS became the popular place for most lighting folk to hang out. I would help people out by providing them with Vectorworks symbols or just plain advice on how to do something simple in the lighting world. Thru hanging there I met a lot of people. Carl Wake, Matthias Hindrich, Matts Karlsen were all people I met on line as opposed to at gigs. Chatted with anyone who wrote in.
But one guy was persistent in asking questions. And since I am a believer in the old adage that there are "No stupid questions" when it comes to work, I answered him. Cody Stoltz would ask me programming questions. He would ask me electrical circuiting questions. He even asked me what to charge his clients for design fees. This was all years ago. Then one day I asked Cody exactly how old he was. I was thinking early twenties. Imagine my surprise when he wrote back, "Nook, I'm only 14".
Apparently Cody has know what he wanted to do in life since he was 11, to work with lighting. The rest of us wanted to be fireman or ball players. But Cody wanted to light things. And he's not waiting on anybody to show him. He's taught himself more than most folks have in the first few years of their career.
I played New Orleans arena yesterday and Cody and I finally had a chance to meet. He's 3 months shy of his 18th birthday and his mom was working on the local crew. She came over with him and I met the two together. Cody and I spent the rest of the day focusing, writing a couple cues and getting to know each other better. The work experience he has acquired is a testimonial to the drive and passion a person can have for their work. Ray Zeigler was one of the NewOrleans locals (He owns RZI, a local well respected lighting vendor) who put him to work at an early age. I'm talking about actually designing a rig, figuring out the patch and circuiting, then programming the actual show. At 15. Love that Ray and others around the country have taken a chance with him.
For the past two summers, Cody has made his way up to New Jersey. The folks at BML Blackbird gave him a chance to intern there during the summer. I'm sure he was ridden like a young pup by some of the older techs there. I also firmly believe he will leave these people in his wake as he rises up in his career. 30 years ago I was Cody, but with a college education. I knew at 15 that I wanted to be involved in the live entertainment biz. But it wasn't until I was in college that I figured out what I wanted. And even then I wanted to be an audio guy. Luckily I changed professions early enough and like Cody, kept pestering people with question. I learned because I wanted to be the best at what I can do. Of course there will always be people who I think have more talent than I do. But I do like to think I am good at what I do.
So I get calls from up coming bands on occasion that are looking for a good design and a young kid willing to grow with the band. I mentioned to Cody that I will probably have an LD gig for him around the time he turned 18 in May. In reply, he thanx me. But actually says "I would like to go tour just as a tech for a while. I need to learn how everyone else in the world puts together touring systems and the nuts and bolts of everything. Ya know, the stuff they don't teach you in any manual." I have never heard such wisdom from such a young man. he's so correct it's scary.
In May Cody turns 18 and will be of legal age to tour and play all venues. Whoever gets to him first will be one fortunate employer. Mark my words, Cody will one day be the next Woodroffe/Bennet/Morse of our business. And a valuable person to whatever company hires him now. Plus he will be running shows for me fairly soon, I can't ignore someone with this much drive and talent. I will give him that break if nobody beats me to it.