By Marissa Willman
As one of four co-owners of SIR Equipment Rentals’ Palm Desert branch, Randy Hewitson spends many nights setting up audio and lighting equipment at star-studded private parties and sold-out concerts in the valley.
While many would say it’s a dream gig, Hewitson insists it’s not as glamorous as it sounds.
“There’s a lot of stress involved [because] things go wrong all the time. There’s nothing really glamorous about it all,” Hewitson says. “Whenever we go do jobs we’re usually the first ones there and the last ones to leave. It’s a lot of hours, a lot of the time and a lot of lifting. It’s not what people think.”
“But it’s better than flipping burgers,” he adds with a chuckle.
Hewitson has seen his share of the rich and famous as a full service backline provider, whose services include audio, lighting, musical equipment and staging rentals for events ranging from birthday parties and speaking engagements to festivals and concerts. He’s provided rentals for birthday parties where celebrities like Snoop Dogg perform or, more recently, a private Kenny Rogers concert at Bighorn.
“There’s something going on every night of the week,” he says of the desert’s private party scene.
Hewitson, who also owns Musician’s Outlet in Palm Desert, delved into the musical equipment rental business when he received a call from The Commodores in 1990. The group needed musical equipment for a private party they were scheduled to play in the desert.
The Commodores gig was just the first of what would become a second business for Hewitson. Over the years, more phone calls came pouring in for equipment rental and Musician’s Outlet Rental Equipment, or MORE, was born. In 2006, Hewitson merged his operation with SIR, a national backline company that was looking to expand to the Coachella Valley.
Now, SIR provides backline equipment for Coachella Valley staples such as the City of Palm Desert’s annual 4th of July fireworks display, the Rancho Mirage Art Affaire and Palm Desert’s Summer Concert Series.
With the holy grail of local music festivals in full swing, Hewitson says the Coachella Music and Arts Festival is SIR’s current dream gig.
“I’ve been trying for years to get [Coachella]. I almost got the backline gig for it this year,” he says.
Several years ago, SIR worked on five Coachella stages. Hewitson, who has been in ongoing talks with the festival’s producers, is keeping his fingers crossed that SIR will provide backline services for Goldenvoice’s landmark festival next year.