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Thanks for the Dinner, David

Last night, in Santa Fe, I had a nice dinner with David Schwartz, co-founder of Mix and the man who hired me as an editorial assistant for $5.50 an hour way back in 1988.

Last night, in Santa Fe, I had a nice dinner with David Schwartz, co-founder of Mix and the man who hired me as an editorial assistant for $5.50 an hour way back in 1988. At the time, his was the signature at the bottom of this page. I had some amazing colleagues on the staff to introduce me to pro audio and to the magazine world, among them Blair Jackson, who taught me more about writing and decision-making than he’ll ever know; George Petersen, who provided a cynics’-eye view of technology and an avuncular wisdom; Paul Potyen, who brought the musicians’ perspective and showed that you can have an outside life; Linda Jacobson, a music and technology dynamo with the widest range of interests imaginable, to go with a penchant for VR dating back to the mid-‘90s and a remarkable knack for writing about complex topics and making them seem simple; and Karen Dunn, who ran the editing desk, got me an extra $100 a month when I was finally hired, and whom I still work with regularly on Mix events. There was also Hillel Resner, who taught me about the business end of publishing, a genius in marketing before most people even knew what marketing was. But David? He gave me my very first opportunity at a feature story, on The Doors movie. He was a fellow Hoosier. And he was the boss.

We didn’t actually work together that long, as David was gone by the early 1990s with the sale of Mix to Norman Lear’s Act III Publishing. But we stayed in touch over the years, some years more than others. We would hook up at the TEC Awards, AES and occasionally in L.A. while I was there on a story. At dinner we caught up again. I probed him about Santa Fe, as my daughter just moved here and David was now going on 10 years. We talked about art and music and ex-girlfriends, all the things one might expect. It was a great couple of hours.

I then left Raaga, the Indian restaurant, and walked home in the light rain, the New Mexico-type of rain where the droplets are drying as they land on your shirt. I made up an entire editor’s note in my head about our industry, from the time I first met David. About how the more things change, the more they stay the same. In this very issue, I thought, we have stories about both Tom Jones and Kandace Springs recording live with a band in the studio, with old-school analog and high-end digital. Separate generations, on the same groove. That’s our industry. I can write about that, about how the tools are different, but the art is the same. And I’ve been in the front row watching it for 28 years.

Then I thought, “Wait, that was just a nice dinner with a good friend. Of course we share Mix, we share friends, share some experiences. But tonight wasn’t about a grand declaration on the evolution of pro audio. Tonight was about some good curry and naan, some good stories and eventually some perspective on the paths our lives take.”

David is an ideas man, I realized. He never stops. Since leaving Mix more than two decades ago, he’s been in a constant state of project management, working on his own and with organizations. Some of the ideas and events have been brilliant; some not so much. But he never stops pushing new possibilities in whatever he does. At dinner I found out that he’s working with a fabulous local singer-songwriter named Tiffany Christopher and had just got back from Sonic Ranch, while at the same time he is planning a gala awards ceremony as the new chair of the New Mexico Music Commission. He’s also upping his role in developing TEC Tracks in conjunction with NAMM. Plus a dozen other things, from screenplays to industry summits. New ideas, all the time. Constantly moving forward.

I remember that same passion and drive in the conference room of Mix, many years ago. It played a large part in hooking me on pro audio. I’ve been fortunate to come across many people who have played a role in my professional life; David was the first. And I am forever grateful. Everybody should be so lucky.

Tom Kenny, Editor, Mix