Justin Hess has been mixing Lucero’s live sound for three years, and he’s seen the group go from a four-piece roots rock group to their current incarnation as an eight-piece Memphis soul band, adding keyboards, pedal steel and horns. The increase in sonic volume and dimension has also led to a growing fan base. A few years ago, the band played 250- to 500-capacity clubs; now out supporting their recent album Women and Work, Lucero recently completed a run opening for Social Distortion, and they’re headlining 1,200-person venues around the country. They’ve also been able to add a dedicated monitor engineer, Joseph Brown, to their crew.
“We have twice as many pieces onstage now,” says Hess, who carries backline only on the road. “Lucero has a certain raw sound; that’s their roots, and I kind of like to keep it that way, but since they started to change their sound a little bit, I do try to make their shows sound like the newer records. Ben [Nichols] sings into a Beta 57, and the main thing is for me to keep his vocals on top of everything, including the horns. They have some hardcore fans who want to hear all the words. The more they can hear the words, the more they’ll sing along and the more energy there is in the venue, and the more fun everyone will have.”