Mohave County, AZ (March 12, 2020)—February brings with it Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day, but for many country music fans in the Southwest, the real highlight is the annual Country Freedom Festival. This year’s edition took place Feb. 22-23 at Windsor Beach in Lake Havasu State Park, located in Mohave County, Arizona. The two-day festival drew an estimated 5,000 people as it offered up a wide range of performers including Matt Farris, Wyldsky, the Presley Tennant Band, Whey Jennings (grandson of the legendary Waylon Jennings) and the headliner, multi-award-winning country artist John Michael Montgomery. Providing staging, lighting, trussing, generators and fencing for the event was Cerritos, California-based full-service AV rental company Total Production Group (TPG).
Mixing for the event was handled on DiGiCo S31 digital consoles at both FOH and monitor positions. In terms of house sound, TPG fielded its Bose ShowMatch line array system. “As a long-time ShowMatch rental house/provider, when planning for this latest Country Freedom Festival, I was confident the Bose rig could handle the job,” stated TPG owner/partner Steve McAllister.
The system included two hangs of 11 ShowMatch line array modules each; 14 ShowMatch SMS118 single 18-inch subwoofers configured as two four-high ground-stacks (one located beneath each main hang); with two additional three-high cardioid-configured sub stacks in between, each topped with front fills.
Veteran sound reinforcement FOH Kirk Willie, who has worked for numerous artists over the years including B.B. King, Ricochet, Ashley Tisdale, Montgomery Gentry, Lee Ann Womack, and for the past nineteen years, as FOH for John Michael Montgomery, used ShowMatch for the first time at the festival.
“I was completely under the gun at this show and barely had time to do a sound check,” stated Willie. “We got to the venue late and were going on at 5:30pm, and I actually first got control of the PA to tune the system at 4:50pm — not really much time! When I first fired it up, TPG had the system set flat. Regardless of whose PA I am using, I always have to notch out a few frequencies for John’s vocal since he has a deep voice and uses a Neumann mic — and I know how that mic is going to react to any PA. So I Smaart’d the system and within five minutes, I was playing house music, and from the time we hit ‘go,’ I immediately noticed the clarity of the PA.”
“What is really interesting to me is if you make an adjustment on the console to the ShowMatch system, you immediately hear it,” Willie continued. “There are a lot of systems out there where I can turn a knob three-quarters of a turn and not hear any change—and a lot of that’s because it’s over processed. When I made an adjustment on ShowMatch, I heard it, even small adjustments. Regarding John’s sound, I want it to be as close to the sound of the record, because that is what people are used to and expect, and with ShowMatch, I was very happy.”
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