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A Classic Summer Sequel: An Engineer Takes Us Behind The Scenes On The Steve Miller Band-Peter Frampton Tour

Discussing tour reinforcement techniques with the crew of a summer tour mixing analog and digital technologies for two rock 'n' roll legends.

By Jim Yakabuski October 8, 2018

The audio team for the Steve Miller Band-Peter Frampton tour at front of house. Front row, left to right: Tom Martinez, Scott Boorey, Jim Yakabuski. Back row, l-r: Sean Brady, Kyle “Baz” Bazinet, Jamie Carter, and Matt Fitzgerald. (Credit all images: Steve Jennings)

“Over the years, I’ve developed an approach that delivers consistent and repeatable results. The entire process revolves around paying close attention to even the smallest details. I work closely with our system technicians to ensure a very accurate prediction followed up by an extremely precise deployment.

“During setup, I work in (L-Acoustics) Soundvision to further analyze and predict the overall system performance,” he continues. “Once up and running, we go through system analysis and tuning. I shape the main system with a consistent frequency response from day to day, which provides predictable results for the mix engineers. I pay close attention to proper time alignment, transition zones and overall volume.”

Miller Monitor Engineer James “Jamie” Carter III

When I queried Carter about when he came on board to mix monitors, he answered very precisely: “I’ve been with the Steve Miller Band since March 12, 2012.” From the outset he did ample preparation for his role. “I closely studied the artist’s history and style,” he explains. “So out came the LPs (record albums), and I also sat down with a guitar and learned the material. Through this process I gained the knowledge for a musical approach to the mix. As a musician, I prefer this avenue to an artist for communication.”

Carter is running an Avid D-Show system configured with 64 ins and 24 outs, operating on software version 3.0. “This system was designed by Steve McCale and brought from Steve’s studio, where it was being incorporated as a monitor system during recording sessions,” he expounds.

Plugins are the basic Avid package, enhanced with products developed by Eventide, while drums, keyboard and guest mixes are controlled via the Avid PQ Mixer option that’s also employed by Fitzgerald for added mix control when Frampton joins Miller on stage for a blues jam that’s a crowd favorite. Performances are multi-tracked to ProTools via an Avid HD Native interface. Outputs are routed via Sennheiser SR 2000 Series wireless systems feeding Future Sonics MG6HX and MG6 Pro in-ear monitors.

Jamie Carter in his world for handling Miller band monitors, including an Avid D-Show mix system.

I asked Carter about his approach in working with an artist of Miller’s caliber. “The technique that I rely on the most is becoming an invisible member of the band,” he says. “The gear and venue are purely limited physical aspects; the music, arrangements, and emotional portrayal are my main focus. The end goal is to make the band feel as if they’re playing in the given environment, which enhances their musical experience and expands the range of possible dynamics, resulting in a greater continuity for performance.”

Clearwing Productions Crew Chief Sean Brady

Brady has been working with the Steve Miller Band for the past two years as part of the Clearwing Productions team, collaborating closely with Martinez as well as Clearwing PA tech Kyle “Baz” Bazinet to get the system implemented and optimized for every show. As previously noted, it incorporates all L-Acoustics loudspeakers, as well as amplification and processing.

The typical configuration of the main left-right arrays is six K1 modules above ten K2s flanked by arrays of eight KS28 flown subwoofers. Side coverage is supplied by 12-module Kara arrays, with eight ARCS II and six X8 loudspeakers on the deck for front fill. All are driven by a combination of LA8 and LA12x amplified controllers.

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About Jim

Jim Yakabuski
Jim Yakabuski

Jim Yakabuski has spent more than 35 years as a live sound engineer, working with artists such Van Halen, Journey, Avril Lavigne, Peter Frampton, and many others. He's also by author of "Professional Sound Reinforcement Techniques," which provides a collection of tips and techniques for mix engineers. It's available via Amazon.

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