House of Blues Gets a Lift

House of Blues Gets a Lift

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Dallas House of Blues, the latest incarnation of the house that Jake and Elwood Blues built, mixes a funky atmosphere with top name music talent and a lively Southern-inspired menu that includes voodoo shrimp and po' boys. Located in the old White Swan warehouse near the Woodall Rogers Freeway, the club serves up live music nightly with a seating capacity of 300 in the dining room and 1,625 in the main hall.

Though the place was originally a warehouse, the dock wasn't set up for the kind of traffic this radically different tenant has to handle. According to House of Blues facilities manager Joshua Kibbe, "we have just one door into the back from the dock and from there we have everything that is going to played, served, worn or used in the club going across this dock."

That means a variety of vehicles pull up to the dock ranging from refrigerated trailers to UPS trucks to laundry vans. The House of Blues dock needed a versatile means to handle this variety of loads, and for this location two Kelley Hulk® Hydraulic Dock Lifts were the answer.

Laura Harrison of Corgan Architects, the firm that designed this major remodeling, hit a snag when it became apparent they had only a 24" dock height on the existing building. This area was not originally designed for a dock so a solution had to be put in place to deal with just about anything that was to load/unload at the House of Blues.

Having worked with Kelley in the past, Harrison reached Director of Lift Products Doug Mcleod to offer up ideas for handling these loads. "The best approach in my mind," recalls Mcleod, "was to go with one of our Hulk Dock Lifts."

The area they had to work with called for a hydraulic lift with a 6' x 8' platform with some additional features. Unlike a typical restaurant, the House of Blues hosts national musical acts that come to the club mounting their full stage show, carried into the facility in large cases containing instruments, amps, stage lighting and backdrops. To handle these loads Mcleod recommended the KDL68-8, a hydraulically activated scissor lift with an 8,000 lb. capacity to handle any thing that pulls up to the House of Blues dock.

This is a heavy-duty industrial dock lift, made of high tensile steel tubing for maximum strength. For the House of Blues dock the two pit-mounted, hydraulic lifts keep traffic moving in and out of the club efficiently within a pretty tight space and tight schedule.

"If this was a typical theme restaurant efficiency wouldn't be that big of an issue," notes Kibbe. "But here we have a different band performing every night with a lot of equipment that has to move in and out quickly."

Names on the Dallas House of Blues roster of national acts include the Dave Matthews Band, Taylor Hicks, Bowling for Soup, the Deftones and the groups that perform at their popular gospel brunch.

"That’s quite a stream of equipment cases coming in and out on a daily basis. We need a reliable way for the band trucks to access our facility."

The Hulk Hydraulic Dock Lift design brings the dock to the trailer and can handle truckbed heights from 28" to 60" high, and can raise or lower right to where the operator wants it using its dual powerful hydraulic cylinders in under a minute. The operator has full control over the lift dock motion with the  pre-wired, NEMA-4X push button hand-held control.

This capability brings added safety to the House of Blues dock, over which much of their traffic – especially the heavy band equipment cases – are caster-mounted loads and manually pushed along. The lift reduces the ramp angle to the back of the trailer so that the roadies can control the speed of the roll for the equipment cases going off the truck, prevent back strain going back in when the show is over.

The lift has an upper limit switch to prevent the crew from raising the lift above the height of the loading dock. Due to the tight space on the dock, the power back is wall mounted. Safety features on the Hulk Hydraulic Lift include removable, mandrel form tuning handrails, beveled toe guards, a maintenance safety strut, safety chains across the operating ends and a safety tread plate steel deck. Velocity fuses on the lift cylinders prevent the lift free falling if hydraulic power is lost.

In the entertainment business the motto is "the show must go on." Thanks to the Hulk Hydraulic Dock Lifts at the Dallas House of Blues, it will.

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