What do Live 8, the Olympics, Gretchen Wilson, Eminem, the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, the Biker Build-Off Awards, Journey, Hasbro and President Bush have in common? Columbus’ Mark Butts. Mark moved from Youngstown in 1989 to attend the Conservatory at Capital University, where he was a saxophonist. Like most college students, he needed something to provide himself with a little spending loot, so he began running lights at area nightclubs.
His love of music and need for cash were both sated, but he had no idea at the time that his part-time, beer-money gig would evolve into what it is today. Twelve years later, Mark finds himself one of only a handful of people worldwide that do what he does. He does the lights – the really, really big lights. Mark’s skills as a lighting designer and programmer have given him the opportunity to work on such tremendously huge projects as the opening and closing ceremonies of the Athens Olympics, Big and Rich/Gretchen Wilson, Dolly Parton and Kenny Chesney tours, and inaugural events for the Governor of Pennsylvania and President Bush – just to name a few.
“I’m gone about two-hundred days a year,” says Butts of his grueling schedule. “We [he and his wife] could live in Nashville or somewhere where I get a lot of work, but we love Columbus, and the cost of living here allows us to live really well.”
Mark’s skills with modern lighting gear allow the rest of us to see our favorite musicians, politicians, toys, athletes, motorcycles, comedians, aircraft and even snowmobiles really well, for which we thank him.