I used to get depressed when tour ended and I was faced with the doldrums of everyday life. Like a hangover, a motionless depression that would slowly fade as I hacked through the pile accumulated stuff that built up while I was away. I still do. Sometimes I just would not even come home bouncing from one tour to the next as a combination not wanting to miss anything and the thrill of bands paying me money to turn up their sound, combined to leave me near homeless. I never set out to be a touring sound engineer but the temptation and adventure changed that and I fell in love with the motion. I have all but stopped working for other bands touring and it is no longer a financial necessity for me, nor a desire I can not resist. Except for this band and crew. My project for this tour was to never forget what it feels like. My project was to capture the slipping of my perspective over time and see if the essence of what motivated me to spend nearly two decades of my life in motion could be shared. I had no idea about the magnitude of this project I was undertaking. I had no idea of how much I would enjoy it and the best of all is the endless stream of never knowing what will happen next.
**** End Mushy 'Getting Home' Speak ****
Sound systems come in all shapes and sizes and just like transportation vehicles, there is no 'best,' there are only various versions that are better or worse for the application at hand. Attempting a transatlantic journey on a bicycle my be possible but generally it is agreed that a transportation vehicle that also floats would be more suited for the job. Similarly, utilizing a jet plane to travel to the corner market not only would be financially awkward but finding a parking space could prove frustrating, especially this time of year. Occasionally though a perfect match is engineered so well that it deserves credit and recognition. I would like to announce the
**** Ingenious and Practical Sound System Design Award ****
Our first runner up is a PA that was designed and built by an unknown craftsman. Notice the high level of symmetry, notice the height of the mix riser and impermeable vintage barricade around it. If I am not mistaken, this system consists of 14 - 15" and 27 horn drivers per side using three different bass bin designs and seven horn types. Impressive stuff and the sheer fact that they were able to offer nearly a 1 to 1 speaker to audience member ratio is a huge plus. Most likely, given the availability of the audio gear at the time, this represents the apex of practicality. Unfortunately though, there were more ingenuous methods available, even back in those days than to cluster-stack a big pile of horns at ear level right next to the band. Though I was not at this particular show, I will venture to say that it did not reminisce of the sound of angels singing.
Next in line is U2 for this gorgeous but terrible sounding orange sound ball of a system. How do I know? Well I took this picture in 1997 before mixing on it 2 nights when Rage Against the Machine opened for them. So, even though it is ingenuous, clearly it was a set designer's ingenuity and not a sound human behind it's creation which is why it - looks great and sounds bad.
Now for the winner of this most prestigious award goes to none other that our friend Al in New Orleans for creating the Ultimate Bedroom PA!
Not only is it ingenuous, it is practical as well. The 'mix position' is correctly located at a lower level than the PA system and the entire listening area is located distinctly within the optimum sonic coverage. As far as speaker to audience ratio? Well, no question that he wins that one hands down if we count horns and cones, there could be upwards of 8 to 10 simultaneous 'listeners.' Kudos Al for a job well done!
**** End Ingenious and Practical Sound System Design Award ****
Is there any other tour blog/travelogue like this one? I don't think so! Simulatneously informative and engaging, I tip my hat to your efforts as well as abiltiy to keep us posted, educate, and entertain... Even if I was deaf I would still read this thing! "I see the world through...."
Dave, The photo in the top slot of the December 20th stream is (or appears to be) a photo of a Brighton Sound PA system from Rochester NY.
BSI was a company that existed as a PA hire company in the early 70's till mid 80's and is most noted as Patti Smith's company. It's around today as a retail shop. I will forward the photo to one of the people(guy on the left is Carl Gaedt/ guy on the right is Karl Kuenning- roadie.net) in the photo, i hope you do not mind. I worked with Patti Smith and BSI for what seems like a few minutes or so.
There are a few other tour blogs
http://barking.roaddog.com/ is a Dave Stevens' blog and I found this
I am sure there are others. But I think I am in a bit of a unique situation and with this being such a large tour and such a fun and cool band that is all good with all the antics.
Thank you Jules!
Wow, First time I've seen this photo but that is definately the full Brighton Sound rig. The gig was in Canada and was called Summerfest (probably 1976 or 77) somewhere in Ontario. That is Big Carl Gaedt on the left and me on the right (wearing a Labelle shirt that I still have). I remember that it poured rain one of the days and we had to load all that PA back in the truck (what a hot wet mess). The band in the photo is probably Ian Thomas. John Prine was also a headliner one of the days. Duffy Sweeney (RIP) the owner of BSI back then was at the gig as well as Bobby Zehler.
Thanks for sharing this photo