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How We Got Loud, Episode 9: Lee Brenkman, Great American Music Hall

Veteran with over five decades working in iconic San Francisco Bay area venues such as the Avalon Ballroom and the Great American Music Hall talks about his work and experiences, as well as innovator and entrepreneur Bob Cohen, co-founder of Clear-Com and much more.
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The San Francisco Bay area was very influential on the music scene in the late ’60s and early ’70s. In Episode 9, host Chris Leonard talks with Lee Brenkman, who has spent over 50 years working in many of the iconic venues in the region, such as the Avalon Ballroom, Family Dog on the Great Highway and the Great American Music Hall.

A highly influential person in live sound history is Bob Cohen, who was the co-owner, co-manager, and sound engineer for the Family Dog, the San Francisco concert promoter that ran neck-and-neck with Bill Graham. Cohen went on to start his own sound company called Lumiere Productions. He also invented the modern-day intercom system and founded the company Clear-Com with Charlie Butten. Lee Brenkman was there in the shop as Bob and Charlie were drawing the schematics out on butcher paper.

For the last 47 years, Lee has worked at the Great American Music Hall as the house sound tech, later becoming the sound department head. We spent a fair amount of time talking about the progression of gear through the years there, along with some memorable shows like Duke Ellington’s last San Fransisco performances, Robin Williams’ HBO Special, and more.

Presented by veteran audio professional Chris Leonard (also a co-host of the Signal To Noise podcast on PSW), How We Got Loud features stories about the people, technology and passion that built the history of live sound. Go here to access all episodes.

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