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Roundtable: Living The Sonic Dream – Who Would You Most Like To Work With, And Why?

"Inspired music and fabulous musicians – that’s the reason I do what I do… and if any of their production managers are reading, let’s talk!" -- Becky Pell
As you might imagine, this fellow (and his former band) are mentioned a couple of times in this article. (Credit: Steve Jennings)

Let’s change it up for our panel this time out: If you could run sound for any artist from any time period – who, when and where? Of course, we can’t break the space-time continuum, but let’s have some fun – what specifically, artistically and otherwise, are your reasons for wanting to work with (insert favorite artist name here) above all others?

Andy Coules: For me there’s one band that stands head and shoulders above all others. Not only were they a great band that wrote some amazing pop songs that entertained millions, but they’ve influenced generations of musicians and their legacy still resonates. I refer, of course, to The Beatles.

They may be more known as the band that pushed the boundaries of songwriting and what was possible in the recording studio, but they started out as a raw and raucous rock ‘n’ roll combo in the clubs of Liverpool and the Reeperbahn in Hamburg – like many bands, they honed their craft in small, sweaty rooms packed to capacity.

Unfortunately, as they grew in stature, they soon discovered that the sound systems of the time simply weren’t up to the task of reinforcing their increasingly large live shows. Couple this with the hysterical screaming of the fans and gigging soon became an unpleasant experience for band and audience alike.

Therefore, if I were somehow able to go back to those heady days, then surely I could take a modern sound system with me? Imagine what it would be like to mix that rock ‘n’ roll music at Shea Stadium in 1965 with a line array and a digital desk…

Michelle Sabolchick Pettinato: A great and really tough question. I’ve been very blessed in my career to have worked with so many incredible artists and also have had the pleasure of mixing two of my favorite bands – Styx and Mr Big.

Oh but there were so many other artists that I would have loved to mix, Led Zeppelin at Earl’s Court in 1975; I can only imagine the energy of the audience was something to behold and the band was riding high on the success of “Physical Graffiti,” one of my favorite Zeppelin records. By all accounts, it was one of their best performances.

Another would be Queen at Rock in Rio in 1985. Queen’s “Night at the Opera” and “Day at the Races” are hugely responsible for me wanting to be a sound engineer. To be a part of such an incredible moment of rock history mixing one of the all-time greatest bands on the planet, I can’t imagine it could get much better than that!”

Samantha Potter: Mid 1990s Whitney Houston, hands down one of my favorite artists of all time. That era was the epitome of modern R&B. Her amazing one-of-a-kind vocals would have been an absolute pleasure to mix live. Her voice is one in a millennium and I’m just happy to have been alive at the same time to hear it. She’s probably the only artist whose death I still haven’t truly accepted.

I would want to mix her at Wembley Stadium, which is where I saw the best concert of my life. It goes without saying that her backing band would be creme of the crop. All her hits, the maturity in her voice, the experience, and that jaw quiver in her vibrato. The huge drums, the deep bass, the crystal-clear vocals – unmatched.

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My favorite gigs are the ones that give me goosebumps and Whitney would deliver that. If it were the ultimate concert, Kelly Price and Faith Evans would also come out and sing Heartbreak Hotel in full fur.

Michael Lawrence: Paul McCartney, hands down. As a small child, the music of the Beatles, Wings, and Paul’s solo albums permeated my household. As such, I’ve always enjoyed his music with a bit of reverence due to its presence during my formative years.

As an adult, not only am I an enormous fan of the music, but also am very inspired by McCartney’s career as the pinnacle of success as a musician, songwriter, and performer. Despite the absolutely iconic and historic back catalog, Sir Paul continues to write, record and perform new music for no other reason than that’s what he enjoys doing. I think there’s a real lesson to be learned there.

I’ve attended a Paul McCartney concert, and it’s striking to see the people that make up the audience – folks of all cultures, ages, and backgrounds. Hit after hit, the songs mean so much to people. What a fun time it would be working on that show. Plus, he’s a Beatle!

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