This year’s CMA Music Festival at Nashville’s Riverfront Park had Morris Light & Sound (Nashville) handling audio production for the event’s largest outdoor free stage with one of the biggest opening day crowds on record of 44,000.
More than 162,000 fans passed through the gates to watch performances at the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage, outfitted with new NEXO STM line arrays, PS15s, RS18 Ray Subs, 4×4 NXAmps, 45 N-12 line monitors, Yamaha CL5 digital consoles and Rio3224 input/output boxes—all connected via a Dante network.
The stage kicked off with the Block Party concert featuring headliner, Joe Diffie. Thursday was a full day of performances that began with a high energy show from CMA Award-winning recording artist Sara Evans followed by performances by numerous top country artists.
Eric Elwell, who mixed front of house for Joe Nichols, states, “I was really looking forward to an opportunity to drive the new NEXO STM rig. My good friends, David Haskell and John Mills at Morris Light & Sound, have ears I trust implicitly, and I’ve always had fantastic experiences with NEXO, so when they showed me the rig and the design behind it, I couldn’t wait to mix on it.
“It’s detailed, but not in a hard or hyped-kind of way. It felt like an F1 racecar… just so responsive. I worked there on the second day at the River Stage, and by then the Yamaha/NEXO team really had the rig singing. It was fantastic, with rich warmth and detail all the way to the top of the hill. Very hi-fi, which I love.”
“I was very impressed with the consistency of the definition of all the vocals, even with all the different engineers that mixed over the course of the four days,” adds David Haskell, president of Morris Light & Sound.
Elwell had utilized the new Yamaha CL5 digital console once before, subbing for a friend on a tour last fall. “I was impressed then by the purity and clarity. The mic pre’s are fantastic, and the plug-ins give you everything you need to add ‘a little something’ extra.
“On the Joe Nichols mix for CMA Fest, I got to use the Rupert Neve Design Portico 5043 compressor across the stereo buss just to add that final “glue” to the mix. The sounds of the plug-ins are just like the real hardware I’ve used in the studio… glorious!”
Russell Fischer, freelance monitor and FOH engineer who has mixed front of house for Taylor Swift, The Mavericks and Toby Keith, mixed monitors for several different bands. He enjoyed working with the Yamaha CL5 in this large festival situation.
“I like the flexibility and ease of use of the Custom Fader Banks; it made for very quick navigation of critical inputs during the festival at the monitor mix position,” Fischer says. “Also, I found the Premium Rack devices very useful.”