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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

In all, there were 150 conditions governing what type of infrastructure could and could not be used. “

No generators, structures, or wires, nothing you could climb on, nothing with fuel. And no testing time; you have to set it up and it has to work perfectly,” Goldstein says.

The solution: individual negotiations with owners of surrounding buildings to get clearance to drill holes in those buildings and crane-mount loudspeakers that would tap into existing A/C infrastructure to power a unique microwave system to transmit signal. And although the system has changed since then, MSI has been contracted to provide sound for the event every year.

Goldstein’s passion for audio manifested itself initially while he was growing up in Baltimore. “When I was 11 my grandmother bought me a bass guitar. There were no bass amps that were worth anything back then, so I built my own and taught myself what sounded good and what didn’t.”

He went on to gain a reputation as a bass guy, he adds. Correspondingly, MSI always set the bar very high for bass devices, providing some of the most powerful of the time and prompting a member of the Commodores to comment, “A lot of guys got bass, but MSI’s got the thunder.”

Early Touring
By age 16, Goldstein was working as a musician and as a sales manager for a local electronics company, a combination that led to his first job as an engineer/DJ, a regular weekend gig in the summer of 1966 at Baltimore’s inner harbor.

Working from midnight to 6 am, he soon got to know the staff and owners of numerous local nightclubs, and it led to a house gig at Club Venus, host to numerous well-known acts of the time. “That was when I started Maryland Sound,” he adds.

A view of some of the line array towers deployed by MSI for more than 2 million in attendance at the inauguration of Barack Obama, the 44th president of the U.S.

When Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons came through in 1968, Clair Brothers asked Goldstein to tour as their mix engineer. Studying architecture at the University of Maryland at the time, Goldstein jumped at the chance, becoming one of the first touring engineers for the company.

Although he wanted to be an architect, he also wanted to be a sound engineer, and there was no formal training available for audio. “I took engineering and music composition courses, but you couldn’t really put a useful group of classes together.” Instead, he opted to continue his education in sound on the road. His first lesson: expect the unexpected.

“I had a bunch of Altec Voice of the Theatre (loudspeakers), power amps, and a mixing console made up of Altec rack mounts strapped together with a treble and bass control on every five mics.” All packed, he adds, “in my brand-new blue Dodge Maxi Van.”

After his first show, at Temple University in Ambler, PA, Goldstein got into his van and headed for the next gig.

Just as he was coming out of the Lehigh Tunnel in his sparkling new ride, around 3 am, he felt something hit the front of the van.

“I hear BAM, pull over to the side of the road, and there’s blood and guts all over the side of my new van. And there, in the middle of the road, about 150 yards back, is this headless Black Angus steer. He must have lifted his head just as I hit. If I’d been driving a foot and a half to the left I’d probably be dead.”

Goldstein found the head wedged into his front bumper, but what first occurred to him wasn’t how to pull it free, it was what to do with the rest of the beast.

“My family would buy a quarter of a steer for, I think, $1,800 to $2,000 back then. I thought, my god, this thing’s worth 8 grand, so I’m trying to figure out if I can strap it on the van. You’re not thinking, right? Then I realize I’m going to be out on the road for six months and it’s going to stink by tomorrow, so I gave up.

“My first day on the road,” he adds, laughing, “and I said, ‘well, this is going to be an interesting life’.”

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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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