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Sister Hazel Plays to Hard Rocks

Dubbed “The Hard Rock Park Road to Myrtle Beach Tour,” Sister Hazel headlined a traveling exhibition of The Beatles’ famed Magical Mystery Tour Bus in support of the brand’s future 140-acre Hard Rock Park in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The tour hit Hard Rock Cafés between New York and Atlanta before a finale at the Myrtle Beach site.

Recording engineer Ken Kelly was on hand with Sennheiser and Neumann microphones and a TRUE Systems Precision 8 mic preamp system at the Memphis, Nashville and Atlanta shows to record the all-acoustic performances for a follow-up CD to Sister Hazel’s 2006 release, Absolutely. In addition, Hard Rock filmed the shows and took Kelly’s stereo feed for the audio. Hard Rock will feature portions of the performances on a DVD documentary.

Kelly assigned Neumann supercardioid KMS 105 condenser mics to lead singers Ken Block and Andrew Copeland. The vocal harmonies for the rest of the band were captured by Sennheiser supercardioid e 945 dynamics.
Kelly placed a Neumann cardioid KM 184 small-diaphragm condenser each near the stools of bassist Jett Beres, lead guitarist Ryan Newell, Block and Copeland. The KM 184s variously picked up acoustic guitars, acoustic basses, mandolins, dobros and a partially electrified lap steel, which was also captured by a Sennheiser e 906 flat against a Fender Champ. The acoustic guitars were also DI’d.

Drummer Mark Trojanowski assembled a unique kit for the all-acoustic set. Mics for his kit included a Sennheiser e 602 II large-diaphragm dynamic, e 901 boundary-layer condenser and Neumann KMS 105s.

In addition to capturing the music, Kelly also needed to capture the audience’s enthusiastic reaction to the music. He placed a Sennheiser e 914 high-grade condenser on either side of the stage facing out and blended their output into the final mix.

Kelly kept the rest of the recording chain simple and short. All of the drum microphones went through a rack of API 312 pre’s. A few Neve pre’s took care of the vocals. The TRUE Systems Precision 8 was assigned to all of the DIs, backing vocals and acoustic mics. From the preamps, Kelly converted the signals with Apogee ADX16s and Rosetta 800s before recording in Pro Tools HD3.