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TalkBack | Letters to Mix, March 2009

Read Mix Readers Letters to the Editor, March 2009 issue


While I was in college in New York City in 1978, I worked in the morning as a lifeguard for a swim program at the “Y” on Lexington Avenue and 53rd Street. One day I happened to look back through the window behind me into the waiting area where I saw a man, an older Asian woman and a young boy. Not thinking anything of it, I looked back at the pool and then froze. My mind was racing as I thought, “No, it can’t be him.”

So when I had a break, I casually walked up and asked if he was here for swimming lessons. He answered in that legendary, unmistakable voice: “They’re not for me, they’re for my son.” The little 3-year-old was Sean. Of course, as a New Yorker I had to be cool and couldn’t show how excited I was. So I just said, “That’s great. It’s good to start them early. Good luck.” He warmly thanked me and I went off to school on cloud nine after a brief yet unforgettable encounter.
Mathew Price, C.A.S.
Production sound mixer

Eds. note: If you’ve ever met one or more of The Beatles in person, e-mail your story to
[email protected].

Mix readers tell us about the craziest place they’ve ever recorded.

Out to Sea

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.
Mark Williams

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.
Ed Snape
Encore Recording, LLC

A Mix reader tells us about his most memorable live gig:

I had a pretty significant show to do in Miami and didn’t think my Yamaha MC2404 board was going to be sufficient for the job and so I rented a 40-channel Allen & Heath board (with a Whirlwind snake). I also brought my Yamaha and a nice old Peavey 16-channel mixer with me, just in case.

The venue was an old church that had been converted into a community center. I got as far from the stage as I could without running cables all over the place. I rigged a good spot for my outboard rack and had an old drafting table for the desk, so I thought I was comfortably away from the “public.”

I was seriously wrong. An intoxicated gentleman had just purchased a 32-ounce beer in the lobby and decided to get close to my station. The dude tripped and poured the entire beer directly into the console. It shorted the board to the point that it just shut itself down. Thankfully, I had the two backup desks with me. After about a 20-minute delay in swapping equipment, I had the audio back online and erected a huge barricade around me.
Bruce W. Hansen

Was postponing the FCC change-over to June a positive decision, or did it simply add to consumers’ confusion? E-mail us at [email protected].