Mark Dowdle, FOH engineer for Steely Dan, with the tour’s Martin Audio MLA System.
New York, NY (September 11, 2014)—For Steely Dan’s most recent U.S. and Canadian tour, “Jamalot Ever After,” the band was supplied with a Martin Audio MLA sound system, provided by OSA International, Inc.
Returning to mix Steely Dan is Mark Dowdle, whose extensive credits include Elton John, Gloria Estefan, Fleetwood Mac, Tina Turner and Jackson Browne, to name just a few. Last year’s tour included a stop at Ravinia Festival in Chicago, where Dowdle mixed on two 7-box MLA arrays, the first year of a new OSA installation and the first new PA in a decade at North America’s oldest music festival.
For this year’s 56-stop tour, MLA was used throughout the run. “The coverage is very smooth, especially its shading,” Dowdle said. “You can walk up on the PA in the front and it sounds just like it does in the back of the room. Everything is more defined, so that automatically translates into the stereo field being more discernible. MLA gives me dynamic range, clarity and definition so that I’m able to position and layer sounds in the stereo field which you can really hear where they all are.”
The Steely Dan tour traveled in two trucks, carrying consoles and backline (including a Steinway grand) in one, and lights and PA in the second—26 MLA and 2 MLD down-fills, as well as 18 MLA Compacts, plus 8 MLX subs and 6 W8LMD used as front-fills.
The tour played Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Energy Arena and New Orleans’ UNO Lakefront Arena using the 14-box MLA main arrays and 9-box MLA Compact side arrays that they carry. “The LA Forum was the only venue on our 56-show itinerary where we had to add PA,” said Mitchell Keller, Steely Dan’s production manager for the fourth year running. “It’s quite impressive that on a two truck tour we can carry enough PA to do arenas.”
The rest of the itinerary ranged from sheds and theaters to casinos. “The smallest venue was Humphrey’s in San Diego, putting in two subwoofers and ground stacking six MLA per side,” Rowe explains. “We recently did four shows in a row with single point hangs using ten MLA enclosures.”