Minneapolis, MN (November 30, 2011)—Prince protégés The Family have reformed after 25 years as fDeluxe, and recently played a CD-release show with SR provider Audio Logic Systems and a pair of DiGiCo consoles.
Held at the Loring Theater, the show was the reuniting of four of The Family’s original members—“St. Paul” Peterson, Jellybean Johnson, Susannah Melvoin and Eric Leeds. After debuting in 1986, The Family’s self-titled, Prince-produced album received critical acclaim and produced the single, ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’, famously covered by Sinead O’Connor. But after a single, sell-out show at First Avenue back then, they went their separate ways. The Loring concert saw the group re-emerge under the new name of fDeluxe and celebrating the release of a new CD, Gaslight.
For the occasion, Audio Logic owner John Markiewicz and systems tech Ed Coutu brought in a full d&b audiotechnik system comprised of J-SUBs, J Infra Subs and C7 mid-high cabs, Q10 front fills, with d&b M6 wedges, plus two DiGiCo consoles—an SD8 at FOH and an SD10—for handling the group’s wedges and in-ear monitoring systems. Since 2009, they’ve purchased a total of three DiGiCo consoles and have plans for adding a fourth in the coming year.
“At Audio Logic, we take pride in the sound systems we use in production,” said Markiewicz, “and the union of the DiGiCo desk, whose sound quality is second to none, into the phenomenal-sounding d&b audiotechnik system is a marriage made in heaven. We don’t even use drive racks anymore; we just go straight out of the desk through AES directly into the amps—there’s nothing in between—and our sound quality is just fantastic.”
Initially the input list was quite large with provisions for the 7-piece band—which included the core Family members, plus guitarist Oliver Leiber, Jason-Peterson DeLaire on keys/sax, and drummer Mario Dawson—in addition to a 6-piece string section. In the end, it was decided that the inputs needed to be scaled back to a manageable 46.
“The initial stage set called for two drums sets because original drummer Jellybean Johnson (playing bass in the new band) was left-handed and wanted to sit in on a few songs,” explained Markiewicz. “As things got scaled back, we were only able to use one drum set, with the tech switching kits back and forth on those songs… Which were not played in sequence!”
“On top of that, I found out a day-and-a-half before the show that KTCA, the Minnesota public TV station, had plans to record the show, so there was the addition of a few extra mics added for that. We agreed that since we were already tracking the show at FOH using an RME MADIFace, we could simply split the feed. I set up KTCA’S engineer, Joe Demko, with a mono feed from my console to sync up in post, which would give them more control over the quality of it. Post mix engineer Brian ‘Snowman’ Powers was given an additional MADIface interface in monitor world and he tracked the whole show there.”
Perhaps one of the biggest save-the-day features for Markiewicz was the ability to do a virtual soundcheck. “Going into this, I knew it would be a show that we’d have to fly by the seat of our pants on,” he laughed. “The venue was fairly small and the group was very large and I thought it was best to put everybody on in-ear monitors. Because of budgets, we weren’t able to provide full production for rehearsals, so mixing FOH was going to be very much on the fly on the day of the show. When it was mentioned that Scott Fahey would be doing monitors I was thrilled; he’s an absolutely phenomenal engineer. I decided to give him the SD10 for rehearsals, which is an excellent desk to mix in-ears on. By getting him the console early, he was able to mix the ears and whatever wedges we ended up using and I was then able to take his preamp settings and recorded tracks and do a quick virtual soundcheck on my own back at the shop on an SD8. I was able to build scenes for the individual songs, and set up a fair amount of things so that I could get through the show as easily as possible without the benefit of a full production rehearsal. When I got the set list on Friday at load-in, I was able to put the scenes in order, set things such as my gates from song to song, Gain-Track off what Scott got at rehearsals and it allowed me to fine tune each song. It gave me a leg up so when I heard the songs for the first time on the night of the show, I was 80% there. And quite literally, it flew from there. We stepped into soundcheck, ran through 3-4 of the songs, and next thing you know, we were into the show. The virtual soundcheck feature really saved my butt on this show, and I think it’s one of the best features of the console, period.”
From the band’s perspective, Peterson—who is touring during the hiatus with Kenny Loggins and Oleta Adams—was thrilled with Fahey at the helm. “The in-ears sounded so incredibly clear and Scott did a great job of interpreting what I needed to hear. The integration of the DiGiCo board into what we were doing was so important. Having that flexibility and different options with the effects sends and such really freed us up to do what we wanted to do—with no holds barred. It was a pleasure to have such great people and the best gear so we could just concentrate on the music portion and the bond and camaraderie that we have as a band. So many cool people came out of the woodwork to help with this project, not only with the recording, but on the live portion, as well. People I had known for years from the old Paisley Park days and guys like Scott Fahey, who is my favorite monitor guy on the planet. To do it at such a high level with the DiGiCo system was a dream come true for us, and the credit goes to John who managed it all.”
Audio Logic Systems