A few weeks back I was hired to play a Derby party. I did not know the host, nor did the host know me, I was suggested by someone else who could not do the gig.

A few days after being hired the host called and wanted to know if I would mind adjusting the schedule to allow for a band to play in my agreed on time slot. I discovered he had been trying to hire an up and coming country artist before calling me and it didn't look like it would happen, then at the last minute he became available.

I offered to bow out and allow the host to just have the band but he insisted he would not change anything without my approval, and he was more than willing to have two acts, we would make it music all day and night except for the running of the Derby.

I knew going in the party would be held regardless of the weather, utilizing both the in and outside of the home. The designated music area was a covered porch that ultimately became closed in with temporary tarps draped down one side as we had rain all day. Initially the guest list was estimated at 75 to 100, but became 100 to 150 at party time.

I arrived about 30 minutes early to set up and the bands equipment was already occupying the end of the porch designated as the stage area. Porch was about 14 feet by 40 feet. They had set up in minimal space leaving room for me just in front of their drum set. I brought the S1 and the Compact, feeling confident there would never be more than 40 or so people on the porch. The band was sequestered in their tour vehicle, and I preceded to setup.

I decided to use the S1 in the monitor position with line out to the Compact. The S1 was slightly in front on my right, the Compact was in an open spot about 4 feet back left. As far as sound level is concerned the S1 is/was not needed, I used it because I prefer the sound and eq control it provides without the complexity of running a mixer.

We started with 3 ceiling fans and one industrial floor fan going full on because of the heat and humidity. About 40 minutes in I asked that the floor fan be turned off as it had cooled a bit and we didn't really need the air or the noise. Later, one by one the ceiling fans were reduced to slow speed as well, though they didn't make much noise.

If my time slot had not been changed I would have taken a Model II and planned a more energetic program of music, as it was, I played a laid back 3 hours in two sets with minimal banter as people arrived, socialized, ate, drank, and bet on the races. 

I received lots of compliments from the attendees on the sound, and kept a good mix of folks on the porch and never felt ignored or out of place.

It was interesting to watch the people look at the dual 15"s set on 18" subs and wonder whether or not to sit close. As the first set progressed it became apparent that the porch was well covered with sound and it was not too loud to sit close. The S1 and Compact were a perfect combination for this gig and I was happy with my decision. However, I wondered myself if the porch would become uninhabitable when the band started.

O..

 

Original Post

I thought when I wrote the above, that I would get back here the next day to talk a little about the band. Been busy.

The band was Walker Montgomery.

As I was setting up I noticed there was no back line, no monitors and, they had a DiGiCo console and peripheral gear. Still, we have all seen small bands overpower a small venue more often than not, and even though I knew the pedigree of the front man I had never heard the band. In a way, I expected the worst.

If you remember, the Ky Derby ended in controversy and it took a few minutes to get the band started. Walker took the stage and, to the surprise of his band played a couple of tunes solo. Based on observing communication with his sound man, I think he just wanted to get his vocal right before playing with the whole band.

Now I've made it no secret that I'm not a big fan of modern/new country music. It has been described here as melody deficient and I agree. I have other complaints as well. Compression and auto tune take the life out of live music, I don't care who is playing. Sadly, it seems auto tune has become a desired sound, even when it might not be needed for correction.

Anyway, the band started playing and the sound man had it dialed in almost immediately. I'm guessing the console is pretty much programmed and they had the song list taped to the floor. The sound man seemed to mostly just be monitoring, though I did see him make a few adjustments. I had the impression he was in control and happy to have pros to work with.

The sound? Musicianship? Great! The band is young hipster types in appearance, but absolute pros in performance. It was the most professional performance I have ever seen outside of truly professional concert venues. 

The band consisted of Walker and three pieces. Drums, bass and electric guitar. Walker held an acoustic guitar but it seemed more prop than music. He played only occasionally and then it really wasn't in the mix.

The guitar player and bass man both had pedal boards. I am not an electric player and I didn't take notice other than to not disturb them while I played. The drummer had a basic set with an electronic pad beside the high hat that he used for programmed percussion sounds. I was surprised, in a way amazed, at the music they were able to make and the variety of good sounds, well blended and easy to listen to. They were not jamming. Everything was well rehearsed, clean, clear, and interesting. Only real complaint, almost too good to be live.

After hearing the band, I would have liked to talk to the guys and asked some questions about the console, IEM's, and their pedal boards, but I knew they were going to play past my bed time so I left early, in the rain.

Don't know how far Walker Montgomery will go. He has connections and opportunity young musicians everywhere would die for. Time will tell. Check him out.

O..

 

Hi Oldghm,

Thanks for these wonderful, thoughtful, thought-provoking posts.

A few thoughts:

"Walker held an acoustic guitar but it seemed more prop than music. "

When I see and act like this, I wish it was more of a show, and specifically a show with some action on the guitar. That's a big part of a live show. I want to see the craft played live.

"Only real complaint, almost too good to be live."

If I want perfection, I'll listen to a studio recording. In a live show, I want to feel, immediacy in the moment, spontaneity, an element of risk because the performers interacted with the environment, engaged with the audience, and there was something unexpected in the outcome. 

ST

Hi ST, 

I agree. These guys reminded me of Eagles concerts I've been to in the past. Every note is pre planned.

I admire and am impressed with the talent level it takes to play like that but I too prefer the vulnerability, and spontaneity of in the moment interaction.

The drummer was the most disciplined I've seen in awhile, perhaps ever. He was just as deliberative as the guitarist or the bassist, never seemed to be playing busy, simply for the rhythm, but consciously making good music.

I suspect there is a management deal in the background making decisions that they hope will position Montgomery on the top of the music charts.

All that being said, it is quite a feat for three musicians to create the feel of quality, multitrack, studio recordings and testament to their discipline and above average talent.

O..

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