Jeff Bridges is an Academy Award winning actor with a passion for music. A talented songwriter, Bridges tours with his group, The Abiders, named after a famous line in his movie, The Big Lebowski. The band’s performances benefit from the efforts of his tour manager, Sven Holcomb; front-of-house engineer Tyson Leonard; and from an audio system incorporating an Allen & Heath GLD-80 digital mixer and several ME-1 personal monitors.
Holcomb and Leonard had previously specified FOH and monitor mixers and monitor loudspeakers with a touring rider. However, Leonard says, it took a lot of soundcheck time to get a good balance in the house and to dial in the monitors to everyone’s satisfaction.
“We had two goals,” Leonard says. “We wanted Jeff’s performing experience to be flawless. And we wanted to deal with the stage level, which detracted from the mood of quiet songs and caused occasional feedback.”
To meet these goals, Tim McClelland of Pro Sound & Lighting in Portland, Oregon, recommended Allen & Heath’s GLD-80 digital mixer and ME-1 personal monitors. The GLD-80 would be small enough to travel in the band’s Sprinter Van or to take on fly dates; yet it had plenty of inputs and all of the digital features they would need. The ME-1’s could provide individual monitor mixes using either in-ear monitors or stage monitor loudspeakers and would eliminate the need for a separate monitor engineer.
Jeff Bridges and The Abiders perform at Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley, Calif.
Each band member now has an ME-1, including Holcomb, who plays guitar. Bridges says he likes the ME-1’s ease-of-use and its tactile knobs and switches which he prefers to an iPad-based mixer. He chooses in-ear monitors or monitor loudspeakers based on the feel of the venue. Holcomb uses the ME-1 from his “guitar world” position to listen to the band and deal with any problems quickly.
“With the stage volume down,” Holcomb says, “it really opened up what the band is able to do.”
Leonard says he is a “hands-on FOH engineer,” and that the GLD-80 is extremely flexible and helps him mix the variety of music played by Bridges and his band. He assigns fader positions based on usage and uses soft buttons to activate mute groups. He uses layers for effects sends and returns; or he may dedicate an entire layer to a specific song. He tunes each show with the GLD’s extensive EQ and records via the mixer’s Dante card to his PC. Setups are easy with the GLD’s “virtual sound check” after connecting a single Cat-5 cable from the Allen & Heath AR2412 AudioRack on the stage.
Leonard says the GLD-80 sounds great and was easy to learn. Holcomb adds, “The house engineers at some shows look at our setup and seem a bit skeptical. But after they see the show, they’re amazed at what we’re doing!”