You might say that Carson Hand was born to be a music man.
After all, the grandson of noted Columbus jazz musician George Corradino -- leader of the popular local Cavaliers Orchestra, The Notables and one-time school system band director -- grew up singing in his church choir.
His mother, Marie, encouraged him to take guitar lessons in the first grade, using a guitar from his grandfather. That led to piano lessons in the sixth grade, and playing the trumpet and picking up the drums.
"She knew how big of an impact music was in his life," Hand, 23, said of his grandad. "I think she wanted to get me started into it. Little did she know it would turn into more than that."
Never miss a local story.
In fact, it has become a successful business, Fade to Black Productions, that Hand and friend, Zach Watts of Columbus, launched about six years ago. It includes a party DJ service with eight part-time employees, soundstage setup and playing in a cover band called Cracker Jack Prize.
The Columbus native, who survived a bout with liver cancer at age 16, also is a University of Georgia graduate and is now pursuing a master's degree in Columbus State University's online program. Through it all, he is very happy that his entrepreneurial spirit allowed him to make it through school without working "a real job."
The Ledger-Enquirer talked with Hand recently to discuss his job as a disc jockey, sound and lighting technician, and participation in a band that plays more than two dozen gigs a year.
Tell us a little about your grandfather?
He's kind of a multi-instrumentalist. He was a band teacher for a long time at Hardaway and Columbus, and he was eventually the director of music for the school district, when they had that. Most of what he plays is woodwinds -- saxophones and clarinets -- but he can play it all.
He was a major influence on you?
I can always go to him for advice ... He has ignited the passion for music, performing and entertaining people inside me and has guided me in all of my musical endeavors, and for that I am forever grateful to him.
Your parents, Marie and Phil, also have been a great help along the way?
They have always been there to offer advice or help me work through problems I ran in to. They have helped haul equipment and even done some of the grunt work from time to time. My dad shared his many years of corporate business experience (at Realtree) with me when it came time to make business decisions. And I have learned so much from him about how to be a good businessman and treat people right.
Your personal musical interest runs the gamut?
It does. I think that's what kind of fuels all of it, my personal interest in music and just in entertaining people ... I like pretty much all music. I'm not a big hard rock or heavy metal fan. I grew up on country music, so I love that. It just depends on what mood I'm in. I like good classic rock and then at other times I enjoy the pop and hip hop that's popular today.
I would presume having a broad appreciation for most music helps a DJ on the job?
Absolutely. For me, different kinds of music bring about different emotions for people. When we are providing entertainment for people, we want to bring out those emotions based on music that we play. I think it's important for people -- not just DJs -- but for all people to have that appreciation for music in general, not just the kind of music they like.
How do you tell if the night is a success for a DJ?
A lot of times you can tell by just the reaction of the crowd as to whether you feel like it's been a successful night. We always follow up with our customers after the event. We like them to know that we're concerned about their satisfaction, and we also ask for their feedback. We're always trying to improve what we do. That's how we continue to get better.
How did you get started with the sound and lighting stage setup?
In addition to having a passion for playing music, I've always re
ally had an interest in the technical side of it. I guess I got started in church running sound for bands or events that we had. I love the technical stuff, and I have a pretty good ear for it. One of the coolest things to me is running sound and hearing a band sound really good. Knowing that I had something to do with them sounding good is a rewarding experience.
Which has more potential, the DJ service or sound and lighting?
We do way more deejaying, and right now that's the bulk of our business and that's where most of the success is just because it's a lot easier to pull off a DJ gig than it is sound and lighting. With sound and lighting you've got to worry about having a sound system big enough for the band and the venue. Microphones and cables, everything is just on a much larger scale. Whereas with the DJ setup, you've got pretty much a basic sound system and one microphone. Having said that, I love doing that live sound and lighting stuff, and we've started getting into that a little bit more when we're available.
How about pricing a DJ event?
Most events are about three hours long. We've got it down to where we can set up in an hour and a half and break down in an hour. It varies from event to event. Some events we do that are a private party, we would start at like $400 for three hours or less. College events and proms are more like $1,500. Then you've got regular school dances that are about $300 or $400. Corporate parties are a little bit more.
How many gigs will you do this year?
We should end up with almost 80 by the end of this year. That's DJ and sound and lighting. That's not including the band, which we'll do between 20 and 30.
It sounds like music definitely transcends your commercial work?
I also have a deep passion for worship music and leading worship. For me, the way I worship best is when I'm playing and singing worship music, and this is a passion I hope to do for a long time.