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Coconut Groove Band Rocks the Carolinas with DL32R

Charlotte, NC—August 2016… For 20 years, the Coconut Groove Band (CGB) has performed a huge repertoire of well known songs, ranging from easy listening to soul, R&B, Americana, rock, pop—you name it. Until recently, they relied on a 12-channel, analog, powered mixer, and to some extent it did the job. “The old mixer was a workhorse,” recalls guitarist/vocalist Rick McClanahan, “and it had effects, but it was big and heavy. We use powered speakers, so carrying around a powered mixer was wasteful. More important, we wanted to expand and move into the future. For example, I’ve always wanted to record or shows in multitrack, and I’ve never been able to do that.”

Then a friend told McClanahan about the Mackie DL32R rack-mount digital mixer. “We checked out the DL32R,” McClanahan continues, “and we got the bug and picked one up. It’s a really cool tool! It sounds great, and it does everything we wanted. My partner, David Harper, plays keyboards, sings, and mixes front-of-house from his keyboard rig onstage. He can program synths backward and forward but he had no experience using a digital mixer. It didn’t take long to figure out the DL32R, though.”

Another advantage of the DL32R was having plenty of monitor mixes. “David and I use wedge monitors—I’ve never been comfortable with in-ears—and I put guitar and vocals in my mix. The other guys use in-ears. David sets up and controls the main front-of-house mix using an iPad Air and Mackie’s Master Fader™ app. The rest of us use iPads to control our monitor mixes but we’re locked out of the main mix so we can’t accidentally mess it up.”

A four-piece band with guitar, keyboards, bass, drums, and strong four-part vocals, the Coconut Groove Band maintains a busy schedule, playing a wide variety of local and regional gigs. “We save mixer scenes for all of the places we play,” McClanahan notes. “It’s a great time saver when we return to the venue.”

The DL32R’s size and weight are also important benefits for CGB. “We have three different drummers we use at various times, and I own the drum kit, which is one of those compact, stackable kits,” McClanahan explains. “Going with the stackable kit and downsizing from the analog mixer to the DL32R enabled us to get rid of our trailer and save a lot of hassle, fuel, and money. The DL32R is in a small, road-ready rack that’s light and fits in a small space. After all the years I’ve had to unload that heavy mixer, carrying the DL32R is a beautiful thing.”

The DL32R’s ability to record in multitrack is huge for McClanahan. “I carry a small 1 TB hard drive, and I just plug it into the DL32R via USB, set how many tracks we want, hit Record, and we’re off,” he confirms. “Later, I drop the tracks into my DAW, and if I find a really good performance, I mix it down. Now we can make demos and maybe even release a live album. I never thought I’d have that ability without spending thousands of dollars on more gear. It’s really cool to have it incorporated into the mixer, and the Mackie DL32R made it possible.”