Jeff Little, who has been a musician his whole life and grew up playing with acclaimed artist Doc Watson, will head the program. Photo by Pat Jarrett/Virginia Folklife Program.
For all those who dream of being on stage in front of the big lights, there are others who dream about setting them up.
That dream can now become a reality at the Northeast State Bristol campus.
The Business Technologies Division of Northeast State has announced the addition of a technical certificate program in Entertainment Technology -- Sound and Lighting. The 24-credit-hour program will offer classes starting in fall 2014.
"We believe that it is a great program for Bristol with it being the birthplace of country music," Department Head Jeff Little said. "With all the applications of live music and music festivals, there is always a production element to all of that."
The certificate is designed to provide students with the basic knowledge and real-world applications for sound and lighting production. This includes small business management, live sound, recording engineering, concert lighting, electronic/digital music, equipment maintenance and basic concepts of computer operations.
"We try to bring as much real world application as we can in the areas of audio and lighting," Little said.
Bristol seems to be the perfect fit for a program like this with the numerous shows that happen in the area and the notoriety that comes with the city.
"Being in the middle of the birthplace of country music is why being on this campus will be the perfect place," Little said.
The campus, located on the third level at 620 State Street, is about to undergo renovations inside the building for a recording studio and live sound and lighting area.
An added bonus of the program is the need for professionals in this job market.
"There are job opportunities for students," Little said. "The industry is really looking for people with some knowledge about the industry and with experience."
Typical job opportunities include those related to lighting system production for events and concerts, and setting up audio systems for event, concert and recording productions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment for these types of technicians will grow about 9 percent over the next 10 years.
The program will be in good hands during its inaugural year as Little has been in the music business for most of his life.
Originally from Boone, N.C., and a graduate of Appalachian State University, Little has been a musician his whole life and grew up playing with acclaimed artist Doc Watson.
Little also worked in Nashville for many years as a musician and manager, working with several national artists including Keith Urban, Montgomery Gentry and John Michael Montgomery.
As a tour manager, he saw the need for experienced lighting and sound people first-hand.
"Working in our industry for a long time it always seemed like an apprenticeship type of industry, but we found that there were folks that this is truly what they wanted to do for a living and they just needed a pathway," he said. "This will provide them with the path.
Little has already been at the helm of a program and watched it grow from its infancy.
In 2004, Little and his family returned to the Blue Ridge area where he was director of the Music Industry Program at Guilford Technical Community College in Jamestown, N.C., until taking the Northeast State position.
Coming to Bristol was a chance he couldn't pass up.
"Having the opportunity to work here in birthplace of country music and work with Northeast State, it was just a great opportunity," Little said.
Registration is now open and classes will start during the fall semester. Students interested in admission to the Entertainment Technology certificate program may contact Little at 423-354-5216 or email jtlittle@NortheastState.edu or contact the Office of Admissions and Records at 1-800-836-7822 or e-mail admissions@NortheastState.edu.