Ole Red Las Vegas radiates country with Elation lighting

Clair Global Integration and Bryant Woelk lighting design a recipe for success at newest Blake Shelton country music venue.

Country music has its own personality – a blend of storytelling, down-home rhythms and heartfelt spirit that resonates with listeners from all walks of life. If you’re looking for a place to hear live country music day or night while enjoying a fabulous meal on the Vegas Strip, Ole Red is your ticket. The recently opened restaurant, bar, and live music venue in the heart of Las Vegas is setting a new standard for country entertainment in Sin City, thanks in part to Clair Global Integration (CGI) and an innovative lighting design by Bryant Woelk, Owner/ Senior Lighting Designer of FXLighting LLC, featuring state-of-the-art lighting from Elation.

The Blake Shelton inspired Ole Red, operated by Opry Entertainment Group, offers patrons a full experience with live music, delectable dining, and a vibrant bar scene. The first Ole Red opened in Shelton’s hometown of Tishomingo, Oklahoma, in 2017 with Las Vegas the entertainment chain’s sixth location.

Concert experience
Clair Global Integration procured audio, lighting and backbone control for the new venue and handled system design, installation and programming. Bradley Cronenwett, Senior Lighting Designer at Clair, oversaw the design phase to ensure the systems fulfilled the client’s brief and high standard. “Although Ole Red operates as a restaurant, the client wanted to capture an immersive feeling like you were sitting in a seat at a concert, but with hospitality,” Cronenwett states. “It’s a high energy, fun environment and everything about it is really a cut above.”

Successful collaboration
Ryman Hospitality Properties, who own Opry Entertainment Group, has entrusted CGI to successfully execute all of the Ole Red venues, a strong and enduring partnership that has helped to ensure unparalleled entertainment experiences across all Ole Red locations. Clair worked closely with Andy Roy, Assistant Director of Production and Technical Services for Opry Entertainment Group, to ensure all the needs were met on the Las Vegas project.

Clair brought in Bryant Woelk to carry out the lighting design for the Vegas venue, the designer’s first collaboration with Clair, Ryman and Ole Red. Woelk, who brought with him experience designing for similar projects, says he had full creative freedom to create the lighting atmosphere and took much of his inspiration from frequent visits to an Ole Red near his home in Orlando, drawing on the venue’s style to tailor an immersive experience for the larger Las Vegas location.

Main stage
Featuring an ever-changing selection of country talent, including occasional sets by Blake Shelton himself, Ole Red Las Vegas hosts live music on a main stage from the time doors open in the late morning until they close late at night. Spread across three levels—a ground floor with two balcony levels overlooking a main stage— all are laid-back dining areas where guests can experience concert-caliber country music from their seats.

The main stage lighting features a full concert rig working from balcony rail pipe surrounded by atmospheric lighting. Woelk comments, “For our workhorse fixture we wanted a nice moving light and chose the Fuze Spot which is mainly used for front light but also gobo texture wash on the stage and for a nice moving light spot to fill the air. DARTZ 360 narrow beam moving heads, on upstage booms, were chosen for their beam effects without overwhelming the audience, a perfect balance of a nice tight beam but not blinding to the eye.”

Woelk specified the lighting but says he didn’t require fixture demos as he knew exactly what he wanted, having used the majority of the fixtures before. The exception was the Colour 5 Profile ellipsoidal, used for stage wash on the main stage and for IMAG purposes. Because it’s such a large space, IMAG is used heavily across a large 37-ft-high LED screen so the lighting design also had to be IMAG friendly, Woelk says.

The Colour 5 Profile fulfills another very unique role as well. A signature decorative piece of Ole Red venues is a real farm tractor that hangs upside-down, about 50 feet above the crowd. As a conversation piece and photo target, it needed to be properly lit, which Woelk does using three of the fixtures.

Full blown honky tonk
Woelk says the goal of immersing patrons in a concert-like atmosphere across a three-story venue offered its own unique challenges. “You want to be sure that everyone has a view to the stage from all three floors, but especially from the top floor that posed a challenge. It’s a live concert venue and restaurant but most importantly it is an interactive space so I added several lighting positions over the tables in the house to play along with the stage lighting to make it feel immersive and allow the audience to feel like they are part of the show.” Among the standout fixtures used are the SixPar 100 and SixPar 300 for audience wash and stage lighting, respectively, the SixPar 300s providing top light from a throw of 35 feet. Lighting is used throughout the entire venue on all three floors, from the stage all the way back to the bar, an immersive atmosphere that clearly inspires guests to dance, transforming the space into a full-blown honky-tonk.

Up on the roof
The Ole Red Las Vegas rooftop offers a casual but swanky restaurant environment during the day and a luxurious rooftop lounge at night, a space that can also be used to host private events. With live music, DJ sets and even line dancing classes, not to mention an unbeatable view of the Las Vegas Strip and Bellagio Fountains, it is a popular space.

The rooftop features a bar and small stage and because it is outside, posed a different set of challenges. Woelk explains, “Coming from Florida and understanding inclement weather and the need for IP-rated fixtures, Vegas posed a different reason for having IP-rated fixtures in the form of sand storms. Needing IP-rated fixtures for an environment that rarely gets rain may seem a bit strange but keeping sand and dust out of the fixtures was very important.” Proteus Rayzor 760 function as a moving head wash while IP-rated SixPar Z19 IP luminaires wash the entire stage, delivering stunning visuals for the rooftop stage while withstanding the unique challenges of outdoor performances.

Providing atmospheric haze and mid-air projection canopy in both the indoor and rooftop spaces is a Magma Prime hazer from Magmatic atmospheric effects. The all-purpose fazer provides full-coverage dry haze that is impressive for such a small unit. “It is super light yet has a lot of output for such a small hazer,” Cronenwett comments. “It outputs a fine mist of beautiful even haze that enhances the ambiance and adds depth to the lighting effects.” Small enough to position virtually anywhere, it consumes little fluid and auto self-cleans for unobtrusive operation.

Ole Red Las Vegas has been extremely popular since opening its doors in January 2024 with lines reportedly out the door on most nights. With a concert-like atmosphere and high-quality dining all in one location, it is setting a new standard for country entertainment on the iconic Las Vegas Strip.

Elation gear:
13 x Fuze Spot
12 x DARTZ 360
21 x Colour 5 Profile
12 x Proteus Rayzor 760
80 x SixPar 100
12 x SixPar 300
36 x SixPar Z19 IP
2 x Magma Prime
2 x Magma Fan