FOH engineer David Morgan suggested miking James Taylor with a Shure KSM9. New York (October 25, 2007)--As the latest legendary singer/songwriter to embrace the "Storytellers" concert format pioneered by Ray Davies a decade ago, James Taylor has been entertaining fans recently with his One Man Band Tour, which intersperses a full concert set of 20 songs with a rich monologue, highlighting events spanning his life. Helping bring those stories and songs to the audience nightly is a Shure KSM9 microphone.
David Morgan, One Man Band's front-of-house audio engineer, suggested the switch to the dual-diaphragm mic. "The first thing I wanted to examine before I started touring with James was his vocal sound," Morgan recalls. "He had made a switch to personal monitors some time ago. Regardless of who I'm working with at any given moment, I always try to put myself in the performer's place. I knew the mic he was using as well as any mic, and since it has a pattern approaching omni at either end of the frequency spectrum, I reasoned that if I were him, I'd want a vocal mic a bit more suited for use with in-ear monitors. The off-axis information coming into the mic wasn't ideal in this application."
Morgan had been experimenting with the KSM9 since its prototype stages in 2004 when it didn't even have a name. Impressed with the vocal quality after using it on the Bette Midler tour that year with backing vocalist Margaret Dorn, again in 2005 at a Katrina benefit concert given by Simon & Garfunkel, as well as with James Taylor's backing vocalists during the 2005 Summer's Here Tour, Morgan brought the mic in full production trim with switchable cardioid/supercardioid versatility to the first One Man Band rehearsals held in Taylor's barn in Lenox, MA in 2006.
"The KSM9 has a realistic quality to it I've never experienced with a mic built for live sound applications," Morgan says. "It's clean, transparent, sweet-sounding, and honest. Not at all hard to manage either, and for James Taylor, it works perfectly with his personal monitors, which was one of my main concerns. Quite often, mics with tight pattern control like this one come back off-axis hard and distorted, but such is not the case with the KSM9. Everything sounds amazingly true. It's easy to fall under the illusion that you're not even listening to a microphone at all."
Lacking a huge input list as such due to the show's rather singular character, Morgan fleshed out the One Man Band stage with other offerings from Shure including a pair of KSM44s on Larry Golding's piano.
"What I'm trying to do in a most basic sense is give everyone in the audience the impression that they are sitting in their own living room listening to James and Larry Golding playing just for them," Morgan says of his approach to the show. "In order to create that kind of intimacy, you have to have realism. I'm getting just that from these mics, and in the case of the KSM9, this may just be about the best thing from Shure since the SM57."