I’ve made a lot of studio recordings and on-location recordings, but the oddest was recording for a film shoot on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise.
Robert Mugge is known as a filmmaker with lots of music film credentials, and he hired Big Mo Recording (College Park, Md.) to handle audio for this. I have worked a lot with Big Mo owner Greg Hartman, including seven years as a main-stage recording engineer at Bonnaroo, and Greg brought me in for this project.
My station was at stage-right of the 600-seat theater, down in the bow of the ship, and Greg took the outdoor stage up on the Lido deck near the pool. Rolling decks required some creative bracing, such as winding a spare length of audio snake around the casters to block them, along with lots of gaffer tape, bungees and whatever else could be improvised. Also, a ship has no true ground, and we discovered that our UPS backup wouldn’t work. Greg faced the additional issue of salt spray, which played hell with the DTRS backup recorders. We each ran solid hard disk recorders (Tascam MX-2424s) and Tascam DA-78 recorders, all configured for 48 tracks. I had an analog mixer, and Greg ran a couple of Yamaha digital mixers.
After a full week of remarkable blues and soul music, we returned with audio intact and the results were later released on a limited-edition DVD titled Deep Sea Blues: A Robert Mugge Film About the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise.
Pep Rally Run Amok
We had been hired to record the Clemson Tiger Band pep rally, with the band performing in the middle of the football field in Death Valley Stadium in Clemson, S.C. To keep multiple mic lines down to reasonable lengths, we parked our van midfield along the sideline, but there were no AC power outlets at midfield. Not to worry: Our 10/3 power cable unreeled back to an outlet in the end-zone complex.
About five minutes before show time, the band’s P.A. tech came aboard the truck asking if he could tap into our power because he didn’t have an extension cord long enough to reach an outlet. Without thinking, we agreed. The band plugged its on-field P.A. into our truck, and up until show time all was routine.
Then as the opening announcement boomed into the stadium, our lights dimmed and the onboard voltmeter dipped to about 95 to 100, with voltage being modulated by the announcer’s voice. In our frantic efforts to dump load, we briefly considered dumping the P.A., but that would have been a show-killer, so we dumped everything else on the truck but the mixer and recorders. At the time, we were transitioning to a [Sony] PCM-F1. The Ampex reel-to-reel machine died early in the brownout, but the PCM-F1 rig kept rolling.
Encore Recording, LLC