As technology advances, new systems come while others go to their home up yonder. As a 40 year old father of two very active little boys, I had to create my own Commando Show out of necessity. I needed a highly visible one-hour show that packed flat and was ready to go at a moment’s notice. I carry it in a $50 shoulder bag that can be carried on a plane. It sets up in less than 15 minutes in front of the audience and can be performed most anywhere from parlor to the stage.
Everyone has their own way of doing things. Here’s mine. I discovered one secret to a good Commando Show bag at the great travel web site www.onebag.com: AVOID WHEELS. Why? They add 8-10 lbs. My bag weighs 25 lbs. max. It needs to be easy on my back. If I am carrying so much that it needs wheels, then I am carrying too much. I also need a shoulder strap because it lets me carry the whole thing on stage, put it on a chair and get to work. I found a great case at www.SoloCases.com that opens from the top, has a shoulder strap and no wheels. It’s called a 17″ Laptop Catalog Case, style PV50-4. (It’s really a catalog case that they are pushing toward the laptop market.) There are plenty of pockets inside and out, with movable dividers in the large inner compartment. I have found the interior very easy to customize so all my props are in the same place every time ready to go.
When it comes to audio for my commando show. I occasionally use a boom box – especially for a children’s show. I like Sony products because they are readily available, reliable and they sound good. The dials are also easy to find and use. I need to change tracks and control the volume quickly; I find dials easier than buttons. Many of them come with easy to use remotes and most boom boxes today have an “aux-in” to patch in an iPod or any other sound source. My mantra: keep it simple. The tube shaped ones have subwoofers that offer a fuller sound. The king of the hill boom boxes are the JVC Kaboom series and they take a shoulder strap. The top of the line model has 50 watts of power and will cover a couple hundred people indoors. They are difficult to find though. Search eBay and Google for “JVC Kaboom”.
Another source for sound on the go is a good set of iPod travel speakers. You will find a couple dozen of these at Best Buy. The latest reviews are found at www.CNET.com – Bose and Logitech make very nice ones of different sizes and loudness. Bose is more expensive. Remember to keep it light for the commando show.
In a previous blog entry, I uplifted the Anchor Audio AN-30, which is also known as the AN-Mini and the MiniVox Lite. I discovered that the 3″ speaker has a difficult time pushing out enough sound; it is not worth the investment. Joe Leffler at www.WeAreFun.com notes that recent, more budget-conscious products from Anchor Audio have not been living up to that company’s famed high quality. I also continue to hear great things from and about Sound Projections (www.SoundProjections.com). The company founder used to design the Liberty systems for Anchor. His products give the greatest bang for the buck. However, for a commando show, it seems that a sub-woofer boombox with a shoulder strap is a very functional solution for a wide variety of venues.
Those of you looking for wireless remote control music systems basically have one option left: The highly reliable units Kerry Pollock’s Wireless Wizardry. John Cassidy loves the “MP3 Tech” unit. The Virtual Soundman systems have ceased production and Kelly Duro has gone out of business. I wish him well.
In magic and wonder,
The Rev. David Reed-Brown
Traveling light: www.OneBag.comCommando Case: Solo Case PV50-4 17″ Laptop Catalog Case PV50-4 http://www.solocases.com/item.aspx?id=1157 $50JVC Kaboom Boom Boxes http://support.jvc.com/consumer/product.jsp?pathId=37&archive=trueReviews for consumer electronics www.CNET.comRemote control sound systems for magicians: www.WirelessWizardry.comOther Recommended Portable PA Systems for Larger Venus:Mipro MA-101aMany portable PA sound systems can be found at www.WeAreFun.com