[Dixielandjazz] Sound Engineers

Jim Kashishian jim at kashprod.com
Thu Jun 9 02:36:50 PDT 2005

Bob Ringwald wrote:
I sometimes think that there is an organization of amateur sound persons who
get together at conventions & figure out how they can best screw up a
musician's performance. 

Made me laugh, Bob.  Naturally, we've had those kind.  How 'bout the ones
that insist on raising the fader of each soloist, inspite of the fact you
give strict instructions that once the balance is made, they shouldn't touch

I was once on the stage for a large tv show with a show band, and a bit of
the show featured Gerry Mulligan's group (while we sat reverently behind!).
Gerry backed away from his mike at one point on purpose.  UP went the
volume!  He backed away more, and again, the engineer raised the fader!
After various efforts at backing away, Gerry finally turned his back to the
mike (& audience) to get the desired effect he was hoping for!!!

Anyway, funny you should give your long list of things sound guys/gals like
to do, when we had the perfect sound man last night.  We played a dinner in
one of those huge halls where they do exhibitions for conventions.  2,000
people were seated.  Now, a jazz band for dinner music can be a disaster in
such a huge hall, if (a) the band has little sense, and (b) the engineer has
less sense!

Well, we know how to do our part, and this guy was 100%!  

Sound check:  normally the band is told to arrive and then the sound truck
shows up...meaning about a 2 hr wait.  Nope, this was all set up & tested
(yes, each mike actually worked!).  A monitor for each of us?  Yes!  Band
squeezed into our normal jazz club area, although the stage was huge?  Yes!

Bang, bash, clink, clink.  Ok, drums.  Tinkle, tinkle, ok piano.  Dong,
dong, dong.  Ok, bass.  "You like your monitor mix?"  Yes!  Voice, bone,
trumpet mics tried out, and mix fine in the monitors.  Ok!  "Play me a
tune", says the mixer.  We did.  Done!  Less than 30 minutes.

That was at 1pm.  Came back at 10pm for the dinner (dinner is late in
Spain!).  Had time for a quick snack and a beer ourselves, got the money for
the gig (important part!),and began playing at 10:45.  Finished at 12:15.  A
large part of the diners had their seats swivelled around to see the band
better by the end of the meal.  Why?  The band is decent & the sound was
decent.  It's a double act!  Anything different can be a disaster.

Nothing whatsoever had changed in the monitor mix from our sound check up to
the concert, which is unusual.  Never can understand why things change by
turning off the equipment & turning it back on, but it usually does!  That's
one thing you forgot to put in your list, Bob!  Sound for the diners?
Dunno, but can only gather it was as good as the wonderful, clear sound we
had.  They were using those huge, flying stacks of speakers.  Didn't see
anyone putting their napkins in their ears, which is a good sign!   :>

(Oh, and we were projected on two monstrous screens on each side of the
band.  I could see one of the screens & they got a great shot of the
trumpeter's Real Madrid (football team) ring while showing his flying
fingers!  Very tasty video work!)

We all decided that if we were big time, we would have doubled this sound
guy's usual pay to get him to travel with us!

Next Saturday's gig is a private garden birthday party. Sound guy is me, so
I'll bash anyone in the band that complains!    :>

Nice to be able to report something nice from time to time!


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