All Access: Zac Brown Band

May 20, 2010 5:52 PM, Photos and Text By Steve Jennings


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The Best New Artist Grammy winners for 2010, Zac Brown Band, are out on their Breaking Southern Ground tour and sharing the love onstage with three up-and-coming Atlanta-based artists who have been signed by Brown to his Southern Ground Records label: Sonia Leigh, Levi Lowrey and Nic Cowan. Each stop features various combinations of the musicians integrated throughout: The Zac Brown Band will make appearances during each artist’s set and invite them to join the full band later in the night. Mix caught up with the good times at Sacramento, Calif.’s, Arco Arena.

Front-of-house engineer/production manager Eric Roderick mans an Avid/Digidesign VENUE Profile board with an FOH rack loaded with a Pro Tools HD 96-channel recording interface and two Stage Racks with 96 analog inputs/16 analog outputs. “Frank Sadler is our Pro Tools tech who does our stage patch and makes sure that Pro Tools is tracking every night,” Roderick says. “We multitrack and archive every show.

From left: Eric Roderick, Pro Tools tech Frank Sadler and Special Event Services’ P.A. tech Preston Soper

From left: Eric Roderick, Pro Tools tech Frank Sadler and Special Event Services’ P.A. tech Preston Soper

“For plug-ins, I use Digidesign/Bomb Factory Fairchild 660 on vocals and some acoustics, Bomb Factory BF-3A leveling amp on the left/right bus, Digidesign’s Smack! comp on some acoustics, Revibe and Reverb ’verbs,” he adds. He also puts into play Line 6 Echo Farm delay, DigiRack EQ 3 and Joemeek VC5.

Audio and lighting are provided by Special Event Services (SES), with P.A. tech Preston Soper on hand to tune the L-Acoustics system. The main P.A. comprises 12 V-DOSC per side coupled with three dV-DOSC per side. Subs are 12 SB-218 double 18-inch subwoofers; near-fills are four EAW UB-82e speaker enclosures; out-fills are four over four L-Acoustic ARCs per side; amplification is Lab.Gruppen fP 6400 amplifiers; and drive is XTA DP488 processing.

Monitor engineer Jake Bartol is also mixing on a VENUE Profile with a FOH Rack used as a monitor rack and two Stage Racks loaded with 96 analog inputs/16 outputs. Plug-ins comprise Fairchild 660 comp on vocals, and D-Verb on vocals and some instruments. “Not a lot,” Bartol explains, “I keep it simple.”

Monitor engineer Jake Bartol

Monitor engineer Jake Bartol

Zac Brown plays a djembe drum that is miked with a Sennheiser e 908 D on top and an e 902 on the bottom. His guitar is a Fender Super Reverb that sees
Sennheiser e 906 mics on the amps. Steel drum takes an SM57.

Zac Brown (vocals, guitar, percussion) sings through a Sennheiser SKM935 G2 wireless mic.

According to drum tech Kevin Leahy (inset), Chris Fryar’s kit is miked with Sennheiser e 908 Ds on all the toms, Shure Beta 52 on the kick, SM57s for the snare top and bottom, Sennheiser VP 88 for overheads and Sennheiser e 614 for the hi-hat and the ride.

Jimmy De Martini’s fiddles take Fishman V200 pickups.

Guitar tech Mike Mason’s primary focus is on Brown, who alone plays roughly 10 guitars for a typical show. “Clay and Coy manage their own instruments mostly,” Mason says. “They’re very hands-on individuals who enjoy the process. Barry Waldrep was brought in to work as the sole guitar tech. During the pre-tour rehearsals, we began to realize that he would not be able to maintain the position of guitar tech, as well as contribute to the show as a support band player. Barry is an amazing instrumentalist whose passion is music. I volunteered to help him during the show so he could play, which later led to me having a much larger role in the guitar tech world. We also have Matt Mangano, who is our bass tech and plays bass for our support bands. He is a phenomenal player and, like Barry, has helped educate me in the way of tech’ing.”

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