A Chat With Mike Noble, Director, Service & Repairs

For many at Riverview, you see Director, Service & Repairs Mike Noble everyday as that fun guy, usually with a screwdriver in hand, expertly maintaining our technical arsenal. What you may not know is that back in the late 1980s Mike was a touring lighting technician for such artists as The Beach Boys, Barry Manilow, John Mellencamp, Rod Stewart, Boston and Cher.

Although that was some time ago, Mike finds his musical past still influences his work at Riverview today.

“There is a structure to a music piece the same way there is a structure to a schematic diagram or a lighting plot,” Mike says. “You can see what it is and what is does and what it can and/or can’t do. Almost like a flow-chart in determining what the problem can be in a piece of equipment, or even an entire system.”

We spoke with Mike to find out more about how integral his technical support is to what we do at the Riverview.

Q. Describe your role here at RSG?

Mike: I’ve been providing in-house repairs at Riverview for more than 20 years. I handle audio snakes, lighting cables, lighting fixtures or rack builds, as well as a fair amount of system repairs either in-house or out in the field, I’ve also done a lot of first-hand builds for all our departments. Additionally, I have relationships with all our equipment vendors to have equipment repaired when necessary.

Q. You started at Riverview nearly 30 years ago as one of the company’s first employees, has your role at the company changed or evolved?

Mike: Yes, very much so. Back in the day, the repairs were mostly lighting fixtures, cables and a few of the older audio or lighting consoles, dimmer racks, audio amp racks, etc., even slide projectors. As the company grew, I took on more of the purchasing of the needed repair or replacement products needed to keep our inventory up and running. Today, I still do repairs, just not slide or overhead projectors. I’m also proud that Evan Williams, our CEO, handed me the reins to Google for any of their event space lighting installations or needs. I’ve been in charge of that for a few years now. I’m still asked to do the occasional production lighting guy thing once in awhile.

Q. Riverview prides itself on offering an in-house inventory of state-of-the-art lighting, sound and projection systems. With technology constantly changing and Riverview gear serviced at events around the country (and world), often at the same time, how do you keep the gear well maintained?

Mike: Most of the time I am relying on the heads and techs in each department to do their due diligence in keeping up with the easy maintenance jobs. I’m usually called in when things are a bit tougher to repair or even troubleshoot. If you know what the symptoms are, and you are familiar with a signal flow on a certain piece of equipment, troubleshooting and repairs are fast, provided we have the correct replacement part in-house.

Q. Do you recall a recent project or internal situation that challenged you?

Mike: We were working at a small event at a venue in Seattle where the stage was not exactly what we expected it to be. Rear lighting trees were not going to work. I laid out all the components and built a “goal post” to span the rear of the stage and hung the needed lighting for the event. It was not the most high tech solution, but it worked. This job requires you to think on your feet!

Q. Many at Riverview may not be aware of your musical past. Tell us about your musical resume. Rumor around the water cooler is you’ve toured with some pretty famous musical acts.

Mike: Guilty. I’ve been playing drums since age 11. As for the touring, I was a part of the lighting crew at ShowLites in LA back in ‘85 and worked on Boston’s reunion tour in 1987. From there, I moved to San Jose and worked for Morpheus Lights, where I toured with The Beach Boys, Barry Manilow, John Mellencamp, Rod Stewart and Cher. I also worked on a few music videos and movies.

Q. Who are your musical heroes?

Mike: If you’ve ever been in my office you’d know I’m huge fan of Rush drummer Neil Peart. I’m a product of the late 70’s early 80’s — RUSH, Cheap Trick, KISS, Van Halen, UFO, Judas Priest, AC/DC, you get my drift.

Q. What is your favorite(s) go to work tool that you can’t live without?

Mike: For my work, I need more than just one tool. I always have to have the following close at hand at all times: Set of screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers, wire cutters/strippers, a good multi-meter, several flashlights, electrical tape and a hammer. Also, a laptop and good Wi-Fi is essential as well.

Q. Outside of the office, what do you for fun?

Mike: I love to jam with Todd Vrzal, our Installations Director, a couple of nights a week. I also work part-time (more like hang out) at a friend’s paintball shop here in San Jose. I also ride my motorcycle when I can and lounge around with my family.

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