In November 2015, ZZ Top guitarist/vocalist Billy Gibbons released his debut solo album, Perfectamundo (Concord Records), a project inspired by his early studies in Afro-Cuban music. Perfectamundo blends Afro-Cuban influences into a mix of blues, rock and jazz. For the album and subsequent tour, which continues into February, Gibbons formed a band called the BFGs; the touring lineup comprises Mike Flanigin (keyboards and bass), Martin “G.G.” Guigui (keyboards), Alex “Guitarzza” Garza (percussion and guitar), Melanie DiLorenzo (drums) and SoZo Diamond (drums).
“Having such great musicians onstage is the best part of putting the mix together,” says front-of-house engineer Jake Mann of Clair Global, who has toured with ZZ Top for 10 years, first as a P.A. tech and then monitor engineer. “I’ve seen Billy in the ZZ form for many years, so it was great to see him in a different light.” Clair Global is supplying Gibbons’ tour with a basic mic and stage-cabling package.
“Billy wants a raw, gritty, dirty, blues-sounding vocal that is heard, but not out front,” Mann notes. “The [Telefunken] M80 has the best rejection and is very smooth in the low range. As we are on house gear each day, the chain is usually just a comp and away we go. The guitar is what’s is all about, so that sits toward the top, but not in front. We’re using a Beyer M160 and it has been giving great results.”
According to monitor engineer Marcel Fernandez: “We’re using three stereo in-ear mixes for our two drummers and percussionist. For the two keyboard players we’ve been using a pair of Fostex 6301B [speakers]—they’re so small that you can hide them in front of the Hammond lid. We also feed a bass amp from the console to reproduce some synth bass sounds from the backing tracks. For Billy we’re using a pair of wedges downstage. Believe it or not, he likes the stage as quiet as possible so he can listen to the house mix and the audience.”