This past Friday I worked a show in Jim Thorpe, Penn., at a venue called Penn’s Peak. Established in 2003, Penn’s Peak kicked off with a show by Brad Paisley and since then has hosted a who’s who of national acts, including Willie Nelson, Martina McBride, Glenn Miller Orchestra, Loretta Lynn, the late George Jones, Ted Nugent, Yes, Gregg Allman, Artie Shaw Orchestra, Whitesnake and the Oak Ridge Boys. The restaurant at Penn’s Peak is appropriately named Roadies.
For those who have never been there, Penn’s Peak (capacity 1,800) is a beautiful room with an interior constructed almost entirely from natural wood. It reminds me of a huge ski lodge, except that the ceilings are much higher, and there’s an upstairs area with a balcony running around the perimeter. During warm weather there’s access to an open-air deck that overlooks Beltzville Lake, providing a beautiful panoramic view of northeastern Pennsylvania's Appalachian Mountains.
The Peak’s Installed P.A. is currently a Clair i212 line array flown six per side with low end handled by eight Clair CS-18s (rumor has it the i212s are serial numbers 1 through 12). In-house consoles are Soundcraft Vi3000s at front of house and monitor positions. Four Clair RC80 low-profile front fills are set on the downstage edge, helping keep vocals present and clear up-front, while 12 JBL MS28s do the same for the upstairs and under-balcony areas.
Amplification comes from Crown CT and QSC PL-3 Series amplifiers, with a Dolby™ Lake Processor for the left and right hangs and BSS Soundweb processing for the subs, front fills and under-balcony fills. The P.A. system is not the only aspect of the venue that was carefully planned—one of the loading bays is elevated for truck height, and the other can be opened to allow small vehicles (such as cargo vans) right inside the rear of the building so you don’t freeze your ‘arse off loading in and out in cold weather.
Soundchecks are a bit of a challenge at Penn’s Peak because the room tends to be boomy when it’s empty, but it tightens up considerably with an audience. When you put about a thousand people in the venue, clarity improves greatly and reflected sound is nicely tamed.
What really makes Penn’s Peak an enjoyable venue to play is the people who work there. I’ve worked the venue eight times in the past 15 years, and every time it’s been a pleasure. We see a lot of the same faces year after year, and that says a lot about a venue. There’s definitely a camaraderie among the staff and it extends to visiting crews. As a tour manager, I like bringing our band in because I know that we’ll be taken care of and that there won’t be any aggravation. They even unearthed a CD player for me to use at FOH. What more can you ask?