At Mix Nashville, we got the chance to sit down and chat with Dolly Parton's longtime front-of-house engineer/production manager, Mike Fechner. The Backwoods Barbie tour (named after her latest release) is carrying a full system provided by Thunder Audio (U.S.) and Major Tom (UK). To view videos from our Nashville event, log on to mix
What board are you using to mix?
A Midas XL4 with all the goodies. It certainly takes up a bit amount of space, but it's just a great old classic, and with a couple of key analog pieces inserted here and there it works really well for us.
What's in your outboard goodie bag?
I have a bunch of Distressors, Alan Smart C2, some dbx — a lot of compressors; there's probably 20 in a rack. I use them on various things: vocals, drum fiddle, acoustic guitars.
What are you doing to ensure that Dolly is heard loud and clear?
One of the challenges I've had with her show is that [it is] 30 to 40 percent speaking and she uses a side-mounted cardioid mic, and you can imagine how difficult that is to put out to 18 to 25,000 people. And she can be very soft-spoken at times; the Meyer Sound MILO really helped us a lot in that department with the intelligibility and coverage. I have a Lake Contour that's right on her vocal mic and that helps out a lot in bringing out her vocals, and a nice Manley Variable-Mu on there, as well.
She's touring with an 11-piece band. How is that working out?
It's a full stage and there's a bunch of multi-instrumentalists, so a lot of inputs; there's 48-plus. I'm maxing out the board.
Are any of them on in-ears?
No, there's a row of 10 wedges on the stage. Jason Glass, our monitor engineer, makes sure it's not too loud up there.