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PROTECT YOUR GEAR FROM THEFT

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PROTECT YOUR GEAR FROM THEFT

THURSDAY // APRIL 12, 2018

On Friday, March 30, 2018, a thief stole the instruments of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band guitarist, Nils Lofgren, prior to his show in Dallas, Texas. Four guitars, harps, tools and other equipment were among the items stolen from the band’s van parked at the Holiday Inn Express, FOX4Dallas reported.

Lofgren felt devastated from losing many sentimental guitars brought with him on tours around the world over the time span of 50 years and 6,000 shows. Despite the loss, Lofgren reassured fans the great show would go on, as a professional musician would be expected to do.

That same night, the guitarist tweeted, “I’m devastated by this robbery. These are my first shows out after a very difficult year. Please consider a retweet. Alas, the show must go on. @KesslerTheater it won’t be the show I was planning on. However I do plan on taking the roof off.”

Lofgren was able to continue the show by borrowing and renting what he needed to make it happen.

Lofgren told FOX4Dallas the thief broke into the van, put the equipment into his trunk and drove off. Thanks to surveillance video, police recovered Lofgren’s guitars the following Monday, and an arrest was made.  

What if this happened to you? And more importantly, what if you didn’t have the resources to have the show go on?

Musicians, performers, venue employees, drivers, touring crew, tech crew, stagehands, and just about any other occupation in the live entertainment industry are subject to losing the precious gear that pay the bills - if they don’t take the right precautions.

How the perpetrator broke has yet to be announced. The investigation of the break-in is still underway, but here are some helpful tips you should consider, provided by gigging musician and deputy sheriff, Jerry Cress, on Disc Makers Blog.

First thing’s first: Document the Sale & Insure Your Gear

If you buy equipment from a private seller, you are urged to have the original owner / private seller, provide documentation of the sale, i.e. “On this date (date), I sold (equipment), serial #_, to (your name) for the amount of (price).”

Inspect your home and car insurance policies in detail. Spend the money to receive instrument insurance.

Keep a record of every single piece of equipment in your possession.

Lock your doors

It might seem like the obvious action, but in the smallest moment you are away from your car is when this type of thief succeeds. Running in the gas station to pay in cash? Lock your car. Forgot your wallet inside? Lock your car. Running down the hotel lobby for some ice? Lock your door! Thieves are constantly on the lookout for anybody who lets their guard down, even for a split second.

Reported recently in Simi Valley, California, is news about gas station “slider thefts” who essentially will slide up to a person’s car out of sight while he or she is getting gas and snatch belongings before quickly escaping the scene.

You can see footage of this happening below:

 

Imagine filling up the tank of your touring van holding thousands of dollars of gear, only to turn around to an empty backseat. So, moral of this lesson is to lock your doors at all time, even if you’re just getting gas.

Keep a clean car and cover your windows

Don’t leave your gear in a vehicle unless you absolutely have to. As soon as you’re able to unload your gear, do so. Leaving important gear in your car on display is comparable to window shopping for a thief. Don’t tempt them. Otherwise, it may be a great idea to invest in some curtains to hide the gear you have inside.

Stay out of the dark

Avoid parking your vehicle holding gear in a back, dark lot of your gig location or hotel. Park in an area with lights, and as close to your gig venue as you can possibly get. Check on your vehicle every so often.

Work as a team

This step may remind you of being in an airport, to never leave your bags unattended. The same goes for loading in and out. In an instant, your unattended equipment can be snatched while you’re loading something else in or out. Have someone in your crew watch the rest of your stuff if you’re preoccupied with something else, whatever that may be.

Rethink your rehearsal space

How does everyone know where the neighborhood band is? They can hear ‘em. That being known, everyone then is aware of the gear inside that house in that garage. The noise complaints and cops outside the house addressing those complaints sure don’t go unnoticed, especially to a thief curious as to what’s inside.

The article also addresses the issue with garage break-ins, and the ease most garage doors have with break-ins built for emergencies. The author suggests investing in good locks or deadbolts and to cover the windows. He further suggests not storing gear in the garage is the surefire way to prevent any of the above.

Invest in lights and alarm systems

Outside light sensors usually shoo a burglar away. Also invest in an alarm system that will notify you right away if there is a breach.

CREW MEMBERS TAKE MINNEAPOLIS: WORKING UNDER COLD CONDITIONS

 Joe Golden of Gallagher Staging & Productions bundles up in proper gear for the Minneapolis Weather Conditions at his crew's Super Bowl build. 

Joe Golden of Gallagher Staging & Productions bundles up in proper gear for the Minneapolis Weather Conditions at his crew's Super Bowl build. 

CREW MEMBERS TAKE MINNEAPOLIS: WORKING UNDER COLD CONDITIONS

WEDNESDAY // FEBRUARY 7, 2018

If you were lucky enough to attend the Super Bowl this year, then you got lucky the big game took place inside the climate-controlled U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Outside of the 70°F stadium temperature, surrounded the coldest outdoor Super Bowl temperatures in history. Temperatures for the big game reached just above 0°F, with wind chill making it feel minus 20°F, USA Today reported.

For the production crew, frigid, snowy weather creates a whole different playing field. It is vital for all site supervisors, employers and individual crew members to prepare accordingly for each and every job impacted by severe weather conditions.

On January 22, people located in the Plains and Midwest were advised to stay off of the roads during heavy snowfall and powerful, gusting winds. All travel was expected to be dangerous especially closer to the evening, ABC News reported.

The storm affected the outdoor crew working downtown, just blocks away from the Super Bowl stadium. We spoke to Site Supervisor Robert Castro of Gallagher Staging & Productions after dangerous weather conditions prompted him to shorten his crew’s normal work day. Castro detailed the extent of how the stormy weather has affected the custom truss structure build in Minneapolis thus far.

“It was super windy all day. Our guys are rigged in the air, so when the wind gusts reached 30 miles per hour we had to pull it down and tell the guys to go home,” Castro said.

These conditions are not typical for staging crew. During the build, temperatures dropped to 25°F, but the windchill factor caused the temperature to feel 14°F. That being said, supervisors must closely monitor the work environment at all times.

“We work in the rain unless it gets super bad. We work as long as we feel comfortable and safe, and when it takes a direction for the worse, we slow down and wait for it to pass,” Castro said.

The Construction Health & Safety Manual: Rigging reads, “Never carry out a hoisting or rigging operation when winds create hazards for workers, the general public, or property.”

More specifically, high gusts of wind may cause equipment to swing or even rotate out of control, creating danger to riggers and potentially overloading the hoisting equipment.

Another consideration was the surface of the truss riggers utilized in order to climb.

“The snowfall causes truss to become wet and eventually the wind gusts cause everything to freeze over and become slippery,” Castro said.

When it came to objects freezing over, truss and other equipment were not the only issues.

“Anything on the truck that cannot freeze needs to be insulated. We had liquids in our first aid kit freeze solid,” said Project Manager Joe Golden of Gallagher Staging.

During winter storms such as these, it is so important for supervisors to know safety precautions including dressing in proper gear. The crew geared up with the appropriate pants and layers including a jacket with a waterproof layer and layer to keep warm.

Shoes must be insulated and waterproof to stay decently warm, but Castro described his severe weather experience as a horribly cold one, due to steep snow reaching above their boots and ankles.

“You need lots of layers, especially wool and polypropylene lined socks. Your hands can’t work in waterproof gloves, so bring several pairs of dry gloves to change into once they get wet,” Golden suggested.

All geared up, Castro and his crew felt “like marshmallow men wobbling down the street” as they observed Minneapolis natives walking through downtown wearing jeans. Natives are use to the cold, but you have to consider the time spent inside to give their bodies’ a break to warm up.

Castro and his crew made sure to take breaks inside, but for the most part the crew diligently worked on the structure outdoors - much more time was spent outside than the on-foot passers.

Knowing what gear to wear is one thing, but for Castro the most important task is knowing when to call it quits before any accidents may occur.

Who is responsible for calling it off? It varies from job to job, Castro added, possibly the supervisor, the client or a safety guy on site. For this particular job, the stage hands worked inside the arena so they were not used to doing this type of work outside. Castro is the supervisor on site, so it was his job to pay close attention to weather conditions and how it may have affected the safety of his crew. 

As a supervisor, having a plan of action instilled prior to the build is so important, Castro said. This involves a bit of risk assessment, in the phase where a risk is in its “raw state” and the supervisor should visualize everything that he or she will carry out to manage the danger, the Event Safety Alliance wrote in the Guide to Risk Assessment 1.01.

The risk assessment process in its entirety, includes the following steps:

  • Identify hazards
  • Identify all parties who might be harmed
  • Evaluate risk
  • Record assessment
  • Monitor & Review

Not only is the event organizer responsible for monitoring the safety of his crew, but also the crew themselves.  

“The boots on the ground should also be able to speak up if they feel that conditions have become unsafe,” said Dan Broadhead of Gallagher Staging. This goes along the lines, if you see something, say something.  

Going into the build, Castro explained, was a little nerve wracking nonetheless because of the cold weather, wind and the location of the build. 

“Having trust in the engineering is everything,” Castro. The outdoor Super Bowl structure was very custom with the various custom angles within. When the team began building the structure, Castro felt very confident in both the engineering performance and crew on-site.

Along with feeling confident in the structure’s engineering, the crew relied on the Weather Nowcasting system to alert him, receive updates and help prepare ahead of time with future weather reports.

In addition, Golden told us the usefulness in Weather Ops from WDT for forecasting during this project.

“It’s been great as it’s going to get. [The weather] totally has the potential to make things go south, but we have an awesome crew here. Of course we all hate the cold and wind, but our crew is amazing and gets the job done correctly,” Castro added.

The big game was on Sunday, February 4, where the Philadelphia Eagles took the win over The New England Patriots. Although inside, fans bundled up during travel and planned their journey to the stadium accordingly.

“We’re the first ones here and the last ones to leave. We’re here for the experience, and it’ll be one to brag about for a long time,” Castro said.

The below section is dedicated to inform cold stress and wind chill factors, implications and ways to keep warm and stay safe while working in cold weather conditions.

Cold Stress

According to OSHA.gov, cold stress happens when the skin temperature drops and causes the internal body temperature to plummet. Additionally, wind speed creates a wind chill effect causing heat to exert from the body.

Types of cold stress include trench foot, frostbite and hypothermia. Cold stress varies on location, for example, temperatures near freezing are categorized as cold stress in areas not use to cold weather.

Visit OSHA.gov for a detailed list of cold stress symptoms and treatment advice.

Wind Chill

Again, the actual air temperature combined with wind speed affects how cold you are. The definition of wind chill on OSHA.gov, is “the term used to describe heat loss from the human body.” One should use the National Weather Service (NWS) Wind Chill Calculator to determine the correct temperature your body feels.

What Employees Can Do

Dress Properly: The first thing you can do to keep warm is dress correctly. Wear at least three layers of loose clothing.

  • Inner: Stay dry by wearing wool, silk or synthetic
  • Middle: Stay insulated by wearing wool or synthetic
  • Outer: Prevent overheating by wearing an outer wind/rain protection layer

*Be sure to have extra clothing nearby in case clothes get wet.

Wearing a hat or hood keeps your entire body warmer than it would be without one. If necessary, wear a knit mask over your face and mouth. To combat water, use insulated gloves and waterproof boots.

Although your employer should already have done so prior to the job, familiarize yourself with cold stress symptoms, listed on OSHA.gov.

Since moisture and dampness increases loss of heat, stay dry in cold areas. Lastly, follow safe work practices, proper engineering controls and employer provided personal protective equipment (PPE).

Eat Right = Stay Warm: Some foods make your body temperature warmer than other foods! The Healthy Eating segment from SFGate provides food suggestions that may benefit you more than others.

Clearly, eating hot food is the way to go. Slow cook food such as roasts, soups and stews are perfect to save hands-on time spent cooking. Adding spice to your food increases body temperature as well.

Choose foods high in complex carbohydrates. Whole plant foods such as

  • Green vegetables
  • Whole grains (oatmeal, pasta, whole-grain bread), starch vegetables (potatoes, corn, pumpkin) and beans, lentils and peas.

Your body needs fat, especially during the winter. Not only does fat provide insulation, but the body utilizes fat in order to absorb vitamins A, E, K and D, SFGate reported. More specifically, a vitamin D (absorbed from sunlight) deficiency may damage your health as well as contribute to depression. Correct fats to eat include:

  • Fish
  • Nuts & nut butters (cashew butter, almond butter, etc.)
  • Olives
  • Avocado
  • Tofu
  • If you must eat red meat, stick to the correct service portion (three ounces) & only three times per week

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Just like you make sure to hydrate during the peak of summer, you must do the same in colder temperatures. Choosing hot tea kills three birds with one stone, meaning it’s a good source of hydration, will naturally warm your body and distributes antioxidants to provide muscle endurance.

In order to prevent cold stress, site supervisors and all employers in general should consider the following:

  • Train workers on recognizing environmental and workplace factors potentially leading to cold stress
  • Inform employees on symptoms, prevention such as proper clothing, and treatment
  • Monitor worker physical condition
  • Schedule several short breaks in warm/dry areas & schedule work during the warmest point in the day
  • Have employees work in pairs
  • Provide warm/sweet beverages (without alcohol), and radiant heaters

 

TOURING INTERNATIONALLY WITH OVERDUE TAXES? NOT HAPPENING

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WEDNESDAY // JANUARY 24, 2018

TOURING INTERNATIONALLY WITH OVERDUE TAXES? NOT HAPPENING

Picture this: You’re mentally prepared to leave the country for The Killers South American tour in about a month and a half. You’ve taken care of things at home and more than excited for the adventure ahead. Then it hits you: You need to renew your passport. Passports take about eight weeks to renew, but you’ll just expedite it for reassurance, you think to yourself.

You then head down to your local post office for passport renewal.

Denied?! What do you mean denied?!

The new Notice 2018-01 includes new rules regarding tax debts ultimately preventing one from receiving or renewing a passport, reported Robert W. Wood on Forbes. Additionally, the State Department may choose to revoke your current passport after the IRS notifies your tax debt as “seriously delinquent.”

From this Forbes article, we’ve outlined the main things you’ll need to know and do step-by-step when faced with this nightmare - or simply want to avoid it.

Two VERY important things to know:

  • A “seriously delinquent” tax debt means you owe over $50,000, but be aware this is the total including penalties and interest - so $20,000 has this ability to accumulate to $50,000.
  • The sooner you respond to IRS notices prior to this phase, and continue protest / disputing, a tax debt does NOT finalize - so stop ignoring those notices!

By law, the IRS is required to notify the State Department when things get to this point. In fact, the law was enacted three years ago but have now decided to put regulations into play.

I got myself into this mess. What now?  

  1. If possible, pay the taxes in full right away
  2. Enter into an installment agreement with the IRS
    • Paying your tax debt overtime will eliminate the IRS label “seriously delinquent” as long as payments are made on time
  3. Offer a compromise
    • You are entitled to a Collection Due Process (CDP) hearing before Appeals if the IRS sends you a notice. Click here for more details.

So it feels like life completely sucks at this point, but you don’t have to find a new job or make any drastic life changes - yet. You have to act quick, because the State Department gives you only 90 days to fix the issue before denying the passport application.

But I need my passport within these 90 days!

You then must contact the IRS yourself and resolve the issue 45 days within your application date.

The IRS made a mistake! I already fixed my tax debt! / My tax debt is NOT seriously delinquent!  

If your case falls under either of these scenarios, your next step is to file a civil action in court. Although you cannot physically go and challenge the certification or IRS decision at the IRS Appeals, you may contact the IRS Notice CP508C phone number to request certification reversal.

This has not happened to me, but the thought of it haunts me enough. How do I prevent this from happening to me?

You should have received plenty of notices from the IRS before reaching the “seriously delinquent” stage. Remember, the more you respond and continue a dispute, your tax debt will not finalize. If you receive an IRS Notice of Proposed Deficiency / Examination Report:

  1. Prepare a protest BEFORE the deadline
  2. You’ll be prompted to visit the IRS Appeals Office, where you’ll then have an opportunity to resolve the issue once and for all
  3. If you cannot resolve the issue (or fail to protest altogether), the IRS will send you a Notice of Deficiency
  4. Finally, you’ll have 90 days to file in the U.S. Tax Court. Click here for tips on how to respond to an IRS Notice.