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Hunting Gremlins: A Veteran Sound Pro Provides The View From The Stage Side
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live sound
The author “slingin’ his axe” prior to getting behind the console for a gig at the Superdome in New Orleans.

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  Business, Sound Companies, Humor, Gary Gand

Much pro audio industry humor revolves around techs versus musicians. By their very nature, techs are knowledgeable problem solvers.

The flip side of this nature are musicians who “don’t let knowledge get in the way” of their artistic pursuit. Hence the endless putdowns:

“Can you read music? Not enough to hurt my playing.”

“What do you throw a drowning guitarist? His amp.”

“Why did the drummer leave his sticks on the dashboard? So he can park in the handicap zone.”

And on and on.

Musicians aren’t clever enough to think up tech jokes, so it remains a one-sided affair. But to be fair, without musicians, techs would have nobody to work for (or pick on). Therefore one needs the other (and vice versa).

Where I come in is I’m that rare breed of musician and mix engineer. I decided early on in my music career (age 10) that I’d better pay attention and figure out what all those knobs do or I would be forever at the mercy of stage hands, janitors, and AV geeks to make sure the mic was on, didn’t feed back, shock me to death, or sound like a bullhorn. This would most certainly obliterate my “unusual amount of talent and artistic creativity” – some music critic’s quote, not mine.

I became so adept at the tech side that when I decided to retire from my night gig as guitar gunslinger in my mid 20s, it wasn’t long before former band mates started calling me up to run sound for them. This quickly led to building my own loudspeakers in the garage and then going on the road with some popular bands of the day, such as rockabilly rebel Commander Cody (“Hot Rod Lincoln”), new country star Emmy Lou Harris, and Nashville singer songwriter Larry Gatlin, to name a few favorites.

After 30 years or so, instead of taking up golf, I decided to get back to playing in a rock band. (Your fingers never forget.) With the “equipment revolution” in full rage, I could get all of the sounds and portability that we lacked in the early 1970s. No more lugging around a Marshall stack, a pair of Altec A7s, a 200-pound rack of power amps and effects, and a piano (or Hammond B3). We’ve now been playing for several years, covering all of the old terrain from clubs to concert halls, outdoor fests to opening slots with national headliners.


Source: Live Sound International

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