Step By Step: A Growing Company Does Festival Double-Duty

New Directions
The Cincinnati market for production is showing growth, Cambridge notes, with a steady increase in festivals and street fairs offering live entertainment that requires production. The Major League Baseball All-Star game (and all of the festivities that surround it) is coming to the city next year.

There’s also a strong arts community with world-class symphony, ballet and opera, several theaters that host a steady schedule of live performances, and a new casino in the city along with several others within an hour of downtown.

Despite the optimistic outlook, Cambridge stresses careful planning. “As a business owner, I’m looking at how to make more from our existing inventory, and every decision to add inventory must be carefully considered. What to spend, how much to spend, what it’s going to mean over the long-term—these factors have to be analyzed,” he says, adding that his father, an engineer with a great head for numbers, has been exceptional in mentoring him on the power of the spreadsheet to carefully track costs such as depreciation and taxes.

It’s perhaps a bit of a different future than he imagined when coming out of college with two degrees but just a single (required) economics class under his belt. Yet the delicate dance between plying the audio trade and being informed on matters of commerce is essential for those seeking to also run the business.

“We’re in a simple supply and demand industry,” he states. “That’s what drives the decisions. The goal is to have every band and every engineer show up for every gig, look over what you’re supplying, and say “Great. We’ll sound good today.”

Columbus-based Phil Fox Band was one of almost 80 acts on the Buckle Up Festival bill.

NEXO and Yamaha Commercial Audio have proven to fit very well into this vision, he adds. “They’re extremely supportive and very available, and we really appreciate it. You can easily reach informed people on the phone, even on their cell phones at odd hours, when you have a question or a need. They’re really strong on training, and have even helped us in reconfiguring our amp/processing racks for different systems and scenarios.”

He also shares an anecdote about a time when a couple of processors malfunctioned the day before a gig, with the company shipping replacements overnight with no questions asked except a follow-up inquiring if the situation was back on track. “There are some other factors in play with Yamaha and NEXO, such as rider-friendliness, and the gear is very affordable in terms of what you’re getting for your money,” he says. “This type of 1-2-3 punch is what has gotten and held our attention.”

Walking The Grounds
Cambridge points to Yamaha consoles as fitting very well within his company’s worldview. “It’s exactly what you need. Solid, reliable, a load of functionality in a package that most folks are familiar with, and of course, great sound quality. Also efficient to pack, and kind to the budget.”

Event Enterprises has invested in Yamaha M7 and LS9 digital consoles, and continues to see a great return of them, and is now looking to the future with the CL and the new QL Series. In fact, every stage at both Buckle-Up and Bunbury had a Yamaha board for house and monitor mixing, accompanied by Rio stage boxes.

Nicholas Radina and Grant Cambridge at one of the QL5 consoles at the Bud Light Stage.

Cambridge notes, a bit wistfully, that he hasn’t had a chance to mix on one of the new QL consoles yet due to being occupied with management duties. “But the feedback from all of the engineers who’ve used the QL consoles here is that they’re digging them,” he adds. “The similarities and consistency with the other Yamaha consoles is great, while having the new effects packages and other advantages means more tools in a friendly, familiar package.”

Despite the misting rain that continued to fall (it thankfully ceased toward evening), we visited each stage to experience the various systems and take in several performances. The Amphitheatre Stage, sunken into a “concrete bowl,” was outfitted with the aforementioned Alpha E loudspeakers, and while they’re an “older” technology, they can still get it done.

Moving along, the Lawn Stage was flanked by the (also aforementioned) GEO S8 arrays, groundstacked on the wings next to the CD12 cardioid subs, while the performances on the humble Acoustic Stage were appropriately amplified with a couple of EAW KF Series loudspeakers. The River Stage, literally on the north bank of the Ohio River, presented another concrete bowl setting, with JBL VerTec arrays subcontracted from a local vendor flying left and right.

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