New Orleans, LAâ€“â€“One of 12 at this yearâ€™s New Orleans Jazz Fest, the Sheraton New Orleans Fais Do-Do stage is dedicated primarily to Louisiana music with a mixture of local and national headliners performing zydeco, Cajun, blues and rock music. The acts are presented back to back with very quick set changes.
If that wasnâ€™t enough of a challenge, the adverse tropical conditions with torrential rain and a heat index swing from 70Âº to 105Âº posed a formidable threat. As Chris Brown, owner of production company SOUNd CHeK MUSIC, pointed out, â€œIf you see the photos on our Facebook page, you can actually see standing water on stage at times when the rain was blowing in.
â€œOur exposure was such that, at one point on this 36 to 40 foot deep stage, we had water hitting the drum riser 32 feet back,â€? Chris continues. â€œWe were mixing monitors
on stage under tarpaulins, but the show must go on, so, weâ€™re up and running, and once the gear is covered and in place, thereâ€™s no reason why the show doesnâ€™t hap-pen.â€?
Besides knowhow and a localâ€™s knowledge of the conditions, Chrisâ€™ confidence also stemmed from using APB-DynaSonics Spectra Ti consoles for FOH and Monitors. This is the second year Chris and crew have relied on APB, largely because of their flexibility, familiarity of layout for guest engineers, and ability to withstand inclement weather conditions.
As he explains, â€œon this kind of job, the board constantly gets reinvented because we had six to seven acts a day with no sound checks and 15 to 25 minute set changes be-tween acts. Anybody whoâ€™s done this type of show knows it can be more difficult get-ting the previous act off than getting the next one on, especially if they had a great set and everybodyâ€™s loving them.
â€œSo you have to redial, reinvent, and tweak things up quickly cause youâ€™ll go from an acoustic singer songwriter to a heavy Zydeco actâ€“â€“where the SPL on stage can reach 122 dB. Musically, the color they go for is a big rolling bass, and lots of kick. The vol-ume creeps up quickly with the vocals and the Cajun accordion thatâ€™s in the middle of all this.â€?
Ultimately, Chris appreciates the fact that â€œthe APB board is familiar, with the knobs in familiar places, which means that engineers donâ€™t have to guess when theyâ€™re on the board, unlike a digital console they may or may not be familiar with. We like reaching up and having a dial where itâ€™s supposed to be.
â€œPlus the APB boards sound great. In fact, I donâ€™t know anything that sounds as good as them in that price category. Ultimately, I want to put a console out there thatâ€™s easy to get in and out of and sounds great, which is why we use APB boards. Analog con-soles seem more reliable in bad weather for us.â€?
Founded in 1970, The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell features over 500 bands on 12 stages over seven days including national and international headliners that require their own engineers.
Chris was Monitor engineer for the other acts, along with Mike Montero, FOH, Bryant Kirby and Chris Brown Jr., as stage techs.
Asked about the reaction of clients and artists to the Spectra consoles, Brown says, â€œItâ€™s what I call the â€˜invisibility factor.â€™ Production people are the first in and the last to leave, and if they do their job right, no one knows they were ever there. If a national actâ€™s FOH engineer has a great show and he walks away from the board and says noth-ing, weâ€™re happy. But at this festival, they all had good things to say about their expe-rience.â€?
â€œWe do a lot to put the artists in a comfort zone before they hit that stage because itâ€™s a often a band on a tour that they may be headlining or co-headlining. They are used to long sound checks where they donâ€™t have this â€œon-your-mark-get set-goâ€? environ-ment. A good example is the Old Crow Medicine Show. They did their set and then hung out at our stage the rest of the day to soak in the vibe. Every artist who left our stage was happy with the performance they had.â€?
APB-DynaSonics is dedicated to the design and manufacture of superior quality analog mixing console, rackmount mixers and related products. For more information, please call 973.785.1101 or visit us as www.apb-dynasonics.com.