by Clive Young.
New York (December 1, 2008)--After Black Friday--the post-Thanksgiving shopping bonanza that turns U.S. retailers upside down--comes the online shopping version, Cyber Monday. If you're looking to get your holiday shopping done for all the audio pros in your life, today's the day, and while perusing online beats driving around town, it's still not easy. After all, concert audio pros work hard and play even harder. They've been there, done that and secretly sold the crew shirt on eBay. So what can you get your fellow road dog for the holidays that he/she/it will appreciate and actually use throughout the coming year?
We asked this rhetorical question last year, and the resulting list was so popular that we're doing it again. Our guidelines are still the same: The items have to be equally appropriate for sound guys who work locally as well as those who hit the road numerous times a year. The items must also be relatively small, so they can fit in a road case or bus bunk unobtrusively. And finally, they have to be at least moderately useful--except for the things that, much like the drummer on your last tour, are useless but funny.
Etre Touchy Gloves ($22, etretouchy.com). Between tablet computers, digital consoles and iPhones, some engineers deal with touchscreens all day--which stinks if it's a freezing cold gig. Maybe they need these gloves, which are missing the thumb and index fingertips, allowing wearers to use capacitive touchscreens while keeping their hands warm.
Warm Mouse ($30, warmmouse.com). It's two weeks later, your road buddy has lost his cool gloves, and is still complaining about frozen hands. End the whining by giving him a Warm Mouse--a USB, two-button computer mouse that heats up at the flick of an on/off switch.
Jimi Wallet ($15; thejimi.com). On tour, roadies can lose their money, their wallets or even their minds, but they never lose their laminates. Help them hold onto the other three with a Jimi Wallet, which can hang on a lanyard right behind an all-access pass (if you get it from their website, type in coupon code "PSN" for 15 percent off).
Road Crew Comics ($5; roadcrewcomic.com). No matter how bad a gig is, someone else has one that's worse--and it's usually the guys in Road Crew, an online comic strip about engineers who couldn't catch a break with a baseball glove. Their rather salty 44-page compilation book is available at the strip's website.
Bento 2 ($49; filemaker.com). Your touring pal can't keep track of which paramour is in what town? Give him Bento 2, a streamlined, Mac-only database that pares back the "I'll never use that" features while integrating with everything else in his laptop to keep him organized. Our favorite feature: Users can trade templates online.
Pathfinder Checkpoint Friendly CompuBrief ($99, PathfinderLuggage.com). Nearly 250,000 laptops get left behind at airport security checkpoints every year, according to a study by Dell. With this TSA-approved computer bag, your road pal won't have to remove his laptop when going through security, making him one less statistic.
Extech SL130 Sound Level Alarm ($210, extech.com). Users can set a limit on this dB meter and can see it flash red up to 30 meters away whenever the level is surpassed. It can also time stamp up to 20,000 samples for future reference--like when the crew finally has to talk with the lighting guy about his snoring on the bus.
Oxen 5-Pocket Jean ($69; oxenworkwear.com). Jeans with holes in the knees may be a perennial fashion statement, but they hurt like hell if you're crawling on concrete under a stage. These spats, however, are the closest thing to shred-proof, and sport a cell phone pocket to boot.
WMWifiRouter ($30; wmwifirouter.com). When a gig is in the middle of nowhere, chances are the site's WiFi signal is nowhere, too. Road dogs can use this software to turn Windows Mobile-enabled smartphones into wireless internet hotspots for devices it can connect to via WiFi, USB or Bluetooth.
Tappening Water Bottle ($15; tappening.com). Your road buddy talked the band into using bio-diesel fuel, is worried about his cat's carbon footprint, and would use hemp dental floss if they made it--but he still drinks bottled water. These reusable bottles, made of recycled plastic, promote the idea of imbibing tap water, with slogans like "Think Global, Drink Local."
ThisGigSucks Shirts ($15; thisgigsucks.com). Dark, cynical t-shirts for dark, cynical roadies. Some of the (few) slogans we can print include "If touring was easy, smart people would do it" and "No picks, no sticks, no set lists. Beat it." With a site name like that, you know what you're getting.
The Rock Bible ($16; quirkbooks.com). Henry Owings, editor of the snarky zine Chunklet, has compiled a book-length list of commandments for rockers and the crews that loathe them, featuring bon mots like "All drummers wearing headset microphones should be required to take a food order" and "If your amp has more than six knobs, you are one of them."