“I have a stereo set of two matched M60s on the lip of the stage,” explains FOH mix engineer Luke Milanese, “and I change the placement slightly every night, trying to get the sweet spot for the band’s in-ear monitor system, so that they have ambient reference to their liking. Then I take those mics and I put them into our nightly live recordings that we upload to Nugs.net at the end of every show. Those performances are streamed ASAP and available for purchase right away.”
Greensky Bluegrass is a five-piece bluegrass/rock group founded in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 2000. The band has evolved over the years, growing from three to five members, adding electric effects and touring with a full light show. While the band is known as “not quite” bluegrass, they describe their sound as “our own version of bluegrass music, mixing the acoustic stomp of a string band with the rule-breaking spirit of rock & roll.”
After 18 years together, up to 175 shows per year, nearly 1,000 different setlists, six studio albums, and a litany of live releases, the band embodies more than just music for members Anders Beck (dobro), Michael Arlen Bont (banjo), Dave Bruzza (guitar), Mike Devol (upright bass), and Paul Hoffman (mandolin).
“We have two principal singers and songwriters, although everyone contributes to the songwriting,” Milanese continues. “Paul Hoffman plays mandolin and sings and writes, and Dave Bruzza plays guitar and sings and writes. Paul Hoffman was singing into a familiar dynamic stage mic for years, but when I took over the gig, we tried out a whole pile of mics at production rehearsals. Telefunken was nice enough to give me a handful of models to try. Once Paul started singing into that dynamic M80, I knew right away it was going to change everything, and we’ve never looked back.”
After an early 2020 tour and series of nightly recordings, the band has sequestered themselves during the lockdown and are participating in virtual festivals and recording at home, where both Hoffman and Bruzza have M60 FET condensers. Most recently, Greensky Bluegrass is streaming a series of live sets, recorded in St. Louis at The Pageant venue. “The Leap Year Sessions,” filmed in 4K by Trey Kerr’s 201 Productions (noted for hi-res audio and video multicam productions with the band Phish) and available here.
“Since there is currently no touring, 201 Productions is set up to bring bands into the Pageant, socially distance and sanitize and record multi-track shoots on a regular basis,” Milanese says. “So we went in for seven days and recorded nine sets of music to be released.”
After strong initial success with TELEFUNKEN microphones in 2009, Milanese was experimenting on a past live project with the soul pop band Lake Street Dive. “We eventually added M60s so that every condenser on stage was an M60. That’s when I first started using them as room mics and high-hat mics. Then everywhere there was a condenser space, we tried to use that mic. We ran them in an XY pattern for overheads on the drums. It made the entire in-ear mix just more cohesive in every way. We thought it was placebo at first, but then we put some different mics back out on the lip of the stage in place of the M60s, and the difference was remarkable. Hands down, everyone on the stage couldn’t believe it. That experience is what pushed me towards the M60’s when I started working with Greensky Bluegrass, and I’m really glad I did.”