New Orleans, LA (July 13, 2010)–At this year’s New Orleans Jazz Fest, the Sheraton New Orleans Fais Do-Do stage had sound mixed on APB-DynaSonics Spectra Ti consoles at FOH and Monitorworld.
The adverse tropical conditions with torrential rain and a heat index swing from 70º to 105º posed a formidable threat. As Chris Brown, owner of production company Sound Chek Music, pointed out, “If you see the photos on our Facebook page, you can actually see standing water on stage at times when the rain was blowing in.
“Our exposure was such that, at one point on this 36 to 40 foot deep stage, we had water hitting the drum riser 32 feet back,” Chris continues. “We were mixing monitors on stage under tarpaulins, but the show must go on, so, we’re up and running, and once the gear is covered and in place, there’s no reason why the show doesn’t happen.”
This is the second year Brown and crew have used APB. As he explains, “On this kind of job, the board constantly gets reinvented because we had six to seven acts a day with no soundchecks and 15- to 25-minute set changes between acts. Anybody who’s done this type of show knows it can be more difficult getting the previous act off than getting the next one on, especially if they had a great set and everybody’s loving them.
“So you have to redial, reinvent, and tweak things up quickly cause you’ll go from an acoustic singer songwriter to a heavy Zydeco act––where the SPL on stage can reach 122 dB. Musically, the color they go for is a big rolling bass, and lots of kick. The volume creeps up quickly with the vocals and the Cajun accordion that’s in the middle of all this.”
Ultimately, Brown appreciates the fact that “the APB board is familiar, with the knobs in familiar places, which means that engineers don’t have to guess when they’re on the board, unlike a digital console they may or may not be familiar with. We like reaching up and having a dial where it’s supposed to be.
“Plus the APB boards sound great. In fact, I don’t know anything that sounds as good as them in that price category. Ultimately, I want to put a console out there that’s easy to get in and out of and sounds great, which is why we use APB boards. Analog consoles seem more reliable in bad weather for us.”
Brown was Monitor engineer for the other acts, along with Mike Montero, FOH, Bryant Kirby and Chris Brown Jr., as stage techs.
Asked about the reaction of clients and artists to the Spectra consoles, Brown says, “It’s what I call the ‘invisibility factor.’ Production people are the first in and the last to leave, and if they do their job right, no one knows they were ever there. If a national act’s FOH engineer has a great show and he walks away from the board and says nothing, we’re happy. But at this festival, they all had good things to say about their experience.”
“We do a lot to put the artists in a comfort zone before they hit that stage because it’s a often a band on a tour that they may be headlining or co-headlining. They are used to long sound checks where they don’t have this “on-your-mark-get set-go” environment. A good example is the Old Crow Medicine Show. They did their set and then hung out at our stage the rest of the day to soak in the vibe. Every artist who left our stage was happy with the performance they had.”