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In Profile: Maryland Sound’s Bob Goldstein, Doing Really Big Really Well

“Doing shows is our first, primary love. There’s nothing better than a great sounding show.” - Bob Goldstein

By Kevin Young September 14, 2011

Bob Goldstein in the Maryland Sound shop

It’s fair to say that Bob Goldstein loves a challenge, and the bigger, the better.

“We do really, really big, really, really well. Everyone puts in the effort. There’s no quit,” he says.

Consequently, when Goldstein talks about his life and career, he does so by relating anecdotes that focus on the challenges – personal and professional – that he and MSI have proudly met over time.

Some are a result of the incredibly complex jobs he delights in taking on, while others are the product of a love affair with the arts that dates back to the very beginning of his career, from when he first began playing bass guitar in local Baltimore-based bands in 1961.

That love has always fueled his work in audio, he explains, as well as an abiding interest in history, art and architecture that has, literally, caused him to lose a fair bit of sleep over the years. “As long as I was on the road, I never did a tour bus. I’d always make a point of driving through places, going to museums and historical sites. It was tough because I never slept, but I liked driving the truck because it allowed me to stop and see things.”

As a result, Goldstein has a wealth of stories well worth telling. Stories that range from good, like the company building its first MSI “Super-board” from scratch for an early Andy Gibb tour in 30 days, to downright ugly, like an early misadventure with electricity that prompted him to rethink his pursuit of a career in music.

“When I was 15 I picked up an electrical cord. I had a bit of moisture in my left hand and the thing exploded and burned all the skin off of it. I had a gig the next night, and it’s hard to fret a bass with the skin burnt off your hand. So I realized right there, this is a really fragile existence.”

It was that realization that would ultimately lead him to a life on the road and the founding of MSI, a company that has gained a reputation for taking on jobs considered virtually impossible, and doing so with a degree of calm that has often prompted clients and competitors to shake their heads in disbelief.

Taking It On
Anyone responsible for sound reinforcement in large outdoor venues faces challenges, including huge storms and often punishing timelines. But some that MSI has faced trump weather and scheduling issues in a big way: chief among them negotiating security while trying to provide sound for more than 2 million people – the largest audience to attend a civic event served by an outdoor system in the history of the U.S – for the January 2009 inauguration of U.S. president Barrack Obama. (Go here to see our Photo Gallery of the system for the inauguration.)

Then there’s the Times Square New Year’s Eve extravaganza, which had never had sound reinforcement prior to 1998-99. It was an event other companies approached for the job considered impossible, but also suggested organizers speak to a “crazy company from Baltimore,” who might just take it on.


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About Kevin

Kevin Young
Kevin Young

Freelance Music and Tech Writer, Professional Musician and Composer
Based in Toronto, Kevin Young is a freelance music and tech writer, professional musician and composer.

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John Mayberry says

Glad to see that Bob’s still ready to go…

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