Neil Cowley Trio – deep space, or down to earth?

Continuing my pledge to be more proactive with my updates….today we are with the fabulous Neil Cowley Trio. Talented bunch exploring a deep space theme with a combination of traditional and electronic instruments, samples, synths, iPads….it’s not rocket science….or is it?

Not much to report here from a technical standpoint. Small village hall gig so important to get the volume coming off stage balanced with the PA. Henry made deplomatic negotiations with bass player Rex Horan, no egos were bruised and a decibel settlement was reached amicably without any fisty cuffs!

Actually, I’m completeing this blog update post gig and I’m slightly starstruck to realise via Wikipedia that Neil was one half of a band called Fragile State (The Facts and the Dreams…amazing electronica/jazz album) as well as Brand New Heavies and Zero7 to name but a few of his past incarnations that resonate with me. Perhaps I should have done my homework before hand, although it would have probably served me no good….going a little quiet infront of an artist you admire is always a bit awks! Soo glad I skipped the opportunity to meet Lou Rhodes…but thats another story.

Meeting your idols is something I do with great caution. They could turn out to be complete prima donnas, or in the very least having a bad day that leaves a lasting negative impression. Luckily Neil, Rex and Evan Jenkins are some of the nicest jazzers you’ll meet on the circuit. (Not wishing to be a “jazzist” but lets be honest there are plenty of aloofists floating about the scene). Greetings with warm handshakes, exchanged names on arrival (you’d be amazed at how often this small yet important detail gets skipped…note to self), jokes a plenty, a sense of mockery about their own work (soundcheck was subtly hilarious..can’t explain it in words). These guys are the cream of the crop. Professionally, musically, generally….fact…no dream!

Henry is continuing to become good friends with the DL32R system, as well as  being a good listener to some of my spoutings of “wisdom” regarding how to go about monitor mixing in such a way as to minimise volumes on stage. I’m afraid I can’t share that particular tip…it’s one of our trade secrets that sets us apart from the crowd.

This was a good gig. Promoters…book this band! You’ll have no BS and fabulous music…no brainer….(and while you’re at it, book us to provide the PA! I’d work with these fine gentlemen again any day of the week.)

Dualing iPads! Mackie DL32R

So after 20 years in live sound with shamefully very little documentation of my work portfolio, I’ve decided to start a blog. (Let’s see how long the good intention lasts). Usually we are too busy at a given concert to document our happenings, and after the gig the moment and inspiration has passed.

Excuses over…onto todays event. We (Rob Ellmore and the newly appointed Henry Moody) are at the 47th Guiting Power Festival in the Cotswolds providing sound for their series of concerts.

Spot the multicore

We are using the relatively new (to us) Mackie DL32R wireless mixing solution to provide front of house sound and separate monitor mix duties via two iPads controlling a single mixrack. This is to be Henrys debut as a monitor engineer, and his first ever monitor “desk” will be an iPad! (How times have changed… must have the dial-up modem chat with him one day!) Also testimony to the excellent and intuitive interface the Mackie MasterFader app provides.

He was smiling seconds before I took this picture!

The beauty of the Mackie system allows multiple devices to control the mix rack, so having set monitor levels for the musicians Henry was quickly promoted to mixing FOH while I was set the important task of negotiating some mighty pies for lunch from a nearby trader. I know my place!

There are no multicores to run, all connections are made on stage which seriously speeds up the set-up time. The whole system was up and running ready for 11am soundchecks and a noon kick-off.

It’s a great platform for training too because I can see what Henry is doing on my own screen and intervene if/when needed! Hence the dualing banjos/iPads! Fitting because onstage we have Hot Fingers with Emily Campbell complete with banjo and a sousaphone providing the ooomph!  The concert was rounded off with an excellent second set from the Paul Richards Trio.

We have our FBT / Renkus Heinz Qube QSA system providing FOH and db technologies Arena 12 monitor speakers driven by Crown amplifiers with custom DSP profiles.

Packdown only took one hour from last note played, to closing the rear doors of van, partly due to FOH control consisting of:

  • 1 gazebo
  • 2 camp chairs
  • 2 iPads
  • 2 lovett pies (well, the empty boxes at least)

One final noteworthy advantage of wireless mixing is the liberation brought about by being able to have your mixing desk about your person at all times. No more 100 yard dashes back to the sound desk to save something from feeding back while you’re halfway across a field with a face full of pie. This is the future.

“Dear Mackie..can you now please focus your efforts on every other aspect of PA systems…making them all wireless, smaller and lighter?”

Thanks muchly,

Rob Ellmore & Henry Moody