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All Access: Jill Scott

R&B singer Jill Scott and her 14-piece band have been on the road touring in support of Scott's latest album, The Real Thing: Words and Sounds Vol. 3,

R&B singer Jill Scott and her 14-piece band have been on the road touring in support of Scott’s latest album, The Real Thing: Words and Sounds Vol. 3, released this past fall. The tour is hitting mid-sized venues across the country, from Boston’s Orpheum Theatre to Detroit’s Fox Theatre and The Grove of Anaheim, Calif. Mix caught a sold-out February show at Oakland, Calif.’s grand art-deco Paramount Theatre, where the soulful diva kept 3,000 fans on their feet all night with her sultry blend of fierce funk and smooth grooves. Sound for the tour is being provided by Masque Sound (East Rutherford, N.J.), and includes a Meyer Sound MILO system (24 boxes), with eight d&b B2 subs and D-12 amps; monitoring is via Firehouse powered F-12s and XTA 226s.

Scott sings into a Neumann KMS 105. “Jill has a full stereo mix in her Future Sonics ear monitors,” says monitor engineer Jim Roach. Scott also has four wedges on two mixes: “The outer pair of wedges has a band mix, and the inner pair is just her vocal.”

Photo: Steve Jennings

Front-of-house engineer Lorne Grabe (second to right, with, from left: monitor engineer Jim Roach, system tech John Gaczewski and monitor tech James Good) has been with Scott since her last European tour. His Digidesign VENUE D-Show board is set up for eight stereo buses and 64 channels. As there are quite a few musicians onstage, he uses groups to stereo and then to the matrix. “That way,” he explains, “I can put anything, anywhere. I can put a vocal-heavy mix where I need it to be.” As for effects, Grabe uses some comps, but not much; instead, Grabe works off of the room’s natural reverb. “If you have a good mic and a good player, you don’t need much as far as outboard.

“I mix off of the VCAs and let the band do the dynamics,” Grabe continues. “I follow Jill just like the band does. Mixing the show keeps me on my feet during the whole show — I’m very busy.”

Drum/percussion tech Detrick Lowman checks the set. Drum mics include Neumann U87s on overheads, Sennheiser E908s on rack and floor toms, Yamaha Subkick and Audix D6 on kick, Neumann KM 184 on hi-hat, and Sennheiser 441 and Shure SM57 on snare. Congas, timbales and bongos are miked with Audix D2s and D3s.

According to keyboard/bass/guitar tech Corey Reeves, the guitar and bass players are the only performers who get their monitor mixes on wedges.

There are 14 performers onstage. Monitor engineer Jim Roach gets the most out of his Digidesign VENUE D-Show, using 52 inputs and 30 outputs feeding various hard-wired and wireless in-ears, wedges and FX. “The only outboard piece of gear I have is an Aphex 8-channel mic pre to get my console the extra inputs I need for communication mics around the stage,” he says. “I’m using the onboard gates and comps on drums, Fairchild 660 plug-in on guitars, Purple Audio MC77 plug-in on bass and [Digidesign] Smack! on vocals.” More plug-ins are used for effects: Digidesign Re-Vibe on vocals and flute, and Reverb One on drums; and TC Electronic VSS3 reverb on Scott’s vocal.

“So far, the biggest challenge has been keeping my eyes on 12 musicians and vocalists,” says monitor engineer Jim Roach. “It’s a big group to look after; they keep me on my toes and I love it.”

Jill Scott Tour Photo Gallery