The Way We Work Our Craft


@Derek great idea about unifying the backing tracks with the keyboard level. I am going to do that. Thanks! I believe level consistency is the key, and like @FredProgGH said, stage volume is key. Our band has, what we call a monitor practice, where we reset our monitor mixes to a cooperative level, as we tend to drift over gigs. I am also the soundman, so I can’t stand delayed sound check due to lack of stage volume control. You need to see an example of myself. Be careful, there is bad language.


Oh, that video is a classic. I have known that guy and worked with him. And I’d say on the couple gigs I’ve actually been hired to run Front of House I’ve been him. Apart from the fact that I actually do try to help the band. Most bands are beyond help though- bar bands, at least. Obviously the kinds of gigs I think most of us are involved in now are on a different level…


Love it! I’ve come across all of those (inc. when I have done the odd sound job myself). I failed though: I did not get grumpy enough! :slight_smile:

The submixing backing track with keyboard is as a result of the school of bitter experience when you hear a desk recording and realised that it was more backing track than keyboard going to FOH as the sound man did not realise what he was getting on the two, so I decided to take the choice away if I did not know the sound man well and he did not know us and the material well. With Tim as he mixed us quite a few times, I was happy to let him have them separately.

The other reason for doing it is (now the Art of the grumpy muso) when the in house PA that the venue insists on using and looked OK channel count wise is not fully working, so you end up short by a channel or two! I always carried my Mackie mixer as a spare as well in case we needed to sub-mix.

The last but one in-house PA gig we had, I ended up having to bail the Sound man out due to a screwed up stage box or snake, which was giving us no foldback on one channel. I managed to use some male/female adaptors and repatching of the stagebox/snake to use a input line as an output line. At least I got a beer out of it.


I had my own “Art Of Grumpy” last Saturday. Was hired for a grand opening of a large venue. Really nice place, in a very affluent area. Had a really nice, brand new, sound system, and a FOH guy, who happened to be the owner’s 18 yr old son, no mixing experience…I mean NONE !! All the money that was put into this packed venue, and this kid didn’t know how to turn the system on. I think the sound installers gave him a 6 minute course in how to run things. I became very grumpy, got things going, and mixed from the stage on an iPad, while the son was outside getting stoned. I asked for more money for running our own sound after the owner was bragging to us about how well his son made us sound. Long story short…I got more money and an offer to be the FOH. My grumpy turned to laughter. Another great music venue being run by clueless people. I give it 6 months to close the doors.

Grumpy Corky


Love it. I ended up doing my last bit of mixing as I was selling an old mixer (rarely gigged) to a mate of mine starting a new seven piece band. They had their first warm up gig booked in a local small golf club but no PA (long story). When talking through the mixer features, it was clear that it was not sinking in, so, with the fact that they had no PA, I decided I had better help.

So the mixer I was selling was used, and I pushed two Keyboand amps into use as an emergency PA for vocals, viola and harmonica, along with an old Peavey Powered/Slave monitor set retrieved from the attic for foldback.

What made me smile regarding the “Grumpy Sound Man” Video, was that this was one band, where where you wanted to hear just one person, everybody else fired up!

They were all bitching about the fact that Fred now couldn’t hear Joe (I had two monitors amongst seven, so the vocalists got them) - they were used to sitting in a circle in a living room!

But I got them through it and they were all pleased in the end to have done their first gig. I was pleased how well it sounded when I heard the recordings people made on phones. All nicely balanced. That reminds me, I am still owed for the mixer :slight_smile:


On the topic of FOH mono vs stereo, I’ve nearly always taken the stereo approach. I’m always careful with what goes where and who hears it though and that varies massively depending on the band/artist and venue.
Ten years or so ago, I worked with an Aussie Pink Floyd tribute band called Think Floyd. I did their mixes in multichannel surround. At one point, I had the whole Pink Floyd collection with some albums on multiple formats. I had DSOTM on pink SQ encoded vinyl, open reel, CD, cassette, DVD Audio (Alan Parsons original discreet quad mix in 24/96) and SACD.
Think Floyd usually performed three sets. The first was classic early tracks like Shine On, the second set was a fair part of The Wall and the last set was the entire DSOTM album.
I designed a custom mixing rig for these gigs and had discreet panning for each channel and true multichannel FX (surround impulses for reverbs, discreet delays with multichannel i/o). I tend to be a perfectionist and did all I could to recreate the album surround mixes as accurately as possible live. The band loved it, the audience loved it and so did I. It was a blast watching the audience turn their heads and follow the plane crash in On the Run as it moved from the rear right of the venue, over their heads and crash on the left of the stage.
Same thing with the multichannel ping pong delay I used for the vocals on Us and Them.


Two things that make me very grumpy as a musician toward the sound man. 1) Hey sound man, did you know that your mix needs some help due to (rolled off highs/muffled, subs resonating the natural frequency of a room like an echo chamber etc)?!! 2) He responds, “Says who?” (OMG you mean you didn’t know that it was poorly mixed? You really suck!). Stay grumpy! Drink vodka. 007 does.


I usually send stereo pairs to our mixing desk (Mackie DL32R) - easy to manage with one fader in our mixing software. But for FOH, I usually assign our stereo out to a matrix output, which allows us to adjust stereo width for FOH depending on location and gig size.

Of course this also means that I religiously check all my patches for mono compatibility.




I’m with Howifeel in that I too will never, ever play Freebird again. Over the years, I have always tried to stay out of the sound man’s way when we had one and tried to stay away from the board when we needed one, but invariably, one must broaden one’s horizons. I am very old school in my approach to sound. Much like a house, you can buy a brand new one, move in ready, or you can buy a fixer upper. I chose the latter.

A while back, I bought a couple of Peavey cabinets and yanked out the old speakers, horns and x-overs and put in new ones, and even re-covered them in the process. They are 500 wts. per side. I also have two wedge floor monitors that I use as backups and some Hotspots take their place. I put some top hats in the wedges so they mount on stands/poles.

A few months ago, one of our subs died mid-gig and I needed one fast. I found a guy on Craig’s who was selling a lot of PA gear and he had two Seismic Audio 18" subs. I know what you’re thinking, and it was the same thing I was thinking. He hooked them up and I had to admit, they sounded pretty decent. The price was super right, so along with a few other items, I brought them home. Two days later, they exploded…you were thinking it right? Seriously, two days later, I hooked them up at the next gig and was surprised they held their own. The subs are still rolling right along and also serve as backup since they each have a satellite amp that can power the backup cabinets in a pinch.

Recently I purchased a Behringer X Air XR16 Digital Mixer to replace a Mackie mixer that bit the dust. I have an analog backup just in case. This is my first foray into digital mixing, but the capabilities are way cool and. I love it so far. Power is a Behringer EP4000. Soon the cabinets will give way to powered, lighter ones.


Had to cut that off due to spotty hotel internet. Returning tomorrow to see what Irma left for us in the sunshine state.

Just wanted to add that this is a whole new venture into the digital/Midi/Cantabile world and I’m loving every minute of it.


Been awhile since this subject was visited, but thought I would share an observation of the music scene I am experiencing.

I’ve performed in a few of the local medium to large venues in recent months. All used FOH in the past, but things are changing. In some, FOH is available, but the venues are demanding we provide a sound person, with no extra $$ for the expense. Needless to say, they are not on my contact list anymore. In other venues, the huge sound system and boards are available, but we cannot use them, as they no longer employ a sound person, and we have to provide our own PA. I am also seeing a decline in customers in these “once packed hot spots”. Some have changed owners, but I think the biggest problem is the venues failed to change with the times. Karaoke saved some of them for awhile. Bringing in “name” bands at the end of their career worked for maybe 2 yrs. Now they struggle to keep the doors open, and some have already become a large dive bar, with portions of the building walled off.

It is affecting the way I have to book, and many times the music I play. Although I still play live an average 3-4 days a week, I have to constantly rehearse to keep up with music demands, but being a curmudgeon allows me to rebuke compromise. At least, 80’s music is currently having a local resurgence, but still wondering what the future of live local music will hold…my solo act ain’t what it used to be, but with a good looper, I might get a few coins in my hat on Beale St.:grin:


It’s all going to s**t. :smiley:

Actually, the dive bars seem to be having a hey-day around here. It’s all small- a small (but cool) band with a small PA in a small place with a HUGE beer list. There’s sort of a thriving music scene in town of people that don’t really give a crap if they get paid any more.


With my experimental 3-piece, we have migrated to the small, neighborhood bars that have some class. No obnoxious drunks passed out at the tables or bar fights. I actually make the same money there (tips only) as many of the larger clubs paying a going rate. More fun too.

I believe that is what will be the new norm for live local music. My neighbor across the street has a folk band that can only get no pay gigs. They maybe play out 3 times a year. Their last gig was at a pizza joint on a Thursday night, 25 miles away in a town with about 800 people in it. I went to see them, and was one of 8 listening. They did get a pizza and a beer out of it. I play several free gigs a year for charity stuff, but not starving enough yet to play for food.


I’m not sure there is such a thing as a suburban neighborhood bar with music here anymore. There’s about four venues downtown that are fairly decent and two super dives that, ironically, get the coolest bands.


Still quite a few here, but live music has been cut back to 2 or 3 days a week.


We have one music venue in my town. A few pubs put on music, but that is not the same.

The music venue struggles. People just don’t go out now, due to a combination of the smoking ban, cost of transport if you do not want to drive if you want a drink, cost of cheap super market booze (often sold as a loss leader), and young people drink much less now than we did. My daughter and boyfriend rarely go out as they are saving like mad for a deposit for a house, but having said that, I don’t think they would go out much more, and of course once they get their house they will hav a mortgage to service.