Saturday, January 14, 2012

Old vs New At The Stafford Centre

The Stafford Centre (in Stafford Texas, just southwest of Houston) is a very nice and modern facility for concerts, conventions, etc.
It was country music legend Ray Price's birthday (87 ?) and we opened the show with a 45 minute set.

The hall seats around 1400 (sold out, and the tix weren't cheap), so this is merely a rear corner view:
All the abstract angles and projections aren't just for looks--they come from computer simulations on the behavior of soundwaves in the space, to tame reverberations and keep the frequency response consistent in as many seats as possible. Rooms like these aren't boomy or muddy, and the people in the back can hear just as well as those in the middle.

Keeping with the theme of professionalism, the stocked mini-fridge in A Beautiful Mess's dressing room even had a bottle opener stuck to the side for our beers.

You always see these round unfrosted bulbs surrounding dressing room mirrors in the movies, even though they aren't much help. Tradition I suppose.

If you look closely, the trash can is labeled "stage left". The yellow floor stencil says "DO NOT BLOCK" because there's an exit door behind the can.
It made us happy to load our gear in and out of Exit Stage Left.

I should have taken a picture of the other stencils that said something about a drop zone and had skulls--if the counter-weights that let you move light trusses easily were to fall, these marked the landing zone where you shouldn't stand unless you have a death wish.

Big acoustic basses weren't loud enough once guitars and vocals got amplification, and were a pain in the ass to transport. That's why Leo Fender designed the first successful electric bass in the early '50s.
I never had any desire to play one of these monsters, and I don't much care for the sound either.

This is more to my taste, whether I'm playing bass or doing sound.

Natalie Rose and A Beautiful Mess cranking it out, featuring Steve Gonzalez.

We weren't allowed to fully present our own hard-hitting modern electric sound lest we offend the grey-hairs and fatigue their hearing before Mr. Price's much more organic and subtle acoustic presentation. I whole-heartedly concurred (which surprised more than a few people) and in fact had already reached the same conclusion long before seeing all of the extra violin players reading sheet music during their soundcheck.
Gotta do what's right in each situation. Bad soundmen have egos and agendas unrelated to right now.
ABM + Nat Rose get to hit it as hard as we feel appropriate at OUR shows, and that's as it should be.

So with zero conflict or drama--total cooperation all around--I'm still wondering why we suddenly lost the wonderful monitor mix established during soundcheck in the middle of our first song.
Nobody in the band could hear Natalie onstage well enough, then her monitors came back too loud and we had feedback twice-3 times, and the boys never got back what they needed.
I raised an extremely polite version of hell twice with no results, but we played on like the professionals we are and won an encore + standing ovation, so nobody cares much anymore besides me.

I've never screwed an opening act and never will, but it's a long standing tradition among the insecure and small-minded in this business. I'm sure anyone with a job has been sabotaged before, so you understand.

Meeting the fans and selling product in the lobby afterwards.

I had just finished the mixing board shot in my last post and was skipping down the stairs (yeah right) when The Legend himself passed before me on the way to his own exponentially bigger autograph and merchandise fan session:
Following in such a talented and successful man's footsteps is a humbling experience, even when just trying to steal a photo let alone forge a new career. I was a little freaked out getting this shot, remembering all the times I saw RP on Hee-Haw etc.

Country music will never be the same as I remember hearing it on AM radios back in the good old days, but at least it's still healthy and will survive in one form or another.

1 comment:

Dave said...

What a great post. Kudos.