JR Richards and the Chuck Alvarez Band perform on the flight deck
The crew of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis had been working for almost two months straight without a day off when the commanders decided to give the crew a full-scale party on July 4, 2006. The Chuck Alvarez Band featuring JR Richards of the band Dishwalla got the call, along with comedians Dave Mishevitz, Gary Brightwell, John Bizzare and Blake Clark, all part of the Comics on Duty tour.
Steve McNeil, president of Mac West Group in Long Beach, Calif., also got the call, and his job was to provide the sound system for the show. “They told me I could bring 2,000 pounds of gear because they were also flying in watermelons and supplies for the big party. And we had to be completely self-sufficient. There was no Radio Shack to run to once we were out there.”
McNeil packed his Sabine 2.4GHz Smart Spectrum wireless systems and Graphi-Q2 multifunction processors as key elements in the sound reinforcement package.
Once the gear was packed, the band and crew settled in for the short ride to the ship. “Coming in for that landing was amazing,” McNeil remembers. “All the gear was packed into a turbo-prop COD (Carrier Onboard Delivery) plane and we came in at 170 miles per hour.
Sabine Wireless receiver at front of house, with ship’s number
“We were about 100 miles off the Pacific coast of Mexico and we were there for three days,” he continues. “We had a tour of almost the entire ship; the crew was incredibly accommodating. We even saw the War Room. The Stennis has a crew of over 5,600, including the air wing. They were a big help in our setup. They constructed a stage for the show and helped place all the gear.” The stage was placed on the almost 5-acre deck, right in front of the main superstructure of the ship.
Sabine’s 2.4 GHz Wireless Systems were used for lead vocals, the comedians and the announcers. “The Sabine Wireless performed flawlessly; no need to adjust a thing. The stage was right below their main radar array, and we had trouble with all our wired connections due to leakage from that high-powered radar signal. But the Sabine Wireless was never affected; it worked great.
“We used several Graphi-Q2 units with built-in FBX Feedback Exterminator for system processing. In fact, JR Richards had a problem with his UHF in-ear monitors, but was able to pull them out since the wedges sounded great. It only took me five minutes to ring out three mixes. I also used the Graphi-Q2 on the house because the Commanding Officer did not want to address the troops from the stage but from in front of the speakers! Not a problem; in fact, the Graphi-Q2 fixed some of the issues with the bounce coming from the steel backdrop of the ‘74’ [referring to the official number of the Stennis: CVN-74].
“The day after the show, we packed the COD for the trip back, and the takeoff was quite an experience. There was even a moment of weightlessness as we rocketed off the deck,” recalls McNeil.
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