All Access: Brian Setzer Orchestra

Feb 1, 2006 12:00 PM, Photos and text by Steve Jennings

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Setzer sings through a Shure SM58

The Brian Setzer Orchestra rocked the Luther Burbank Center in Santa Rosa, Calif., as part of their fourth annual Christmas Extravaganza tour. Setzer and band had the sold-out crowd dancing to songs from their latest release, Dig That Crazy Christmas, and other tunes in their rockabilly/big band repertoire when Mix caught the show in late December.

Front-of-house engineer Jon Ostrin

Front-of-house engineer Jon Ostrin uses a Yamaha PM5000, using all 44 mono inputs and all eight stereo inputs. “Of the 32 aux outputs, I'm only using a few for effects sends,” Ostrin says. “It gives the opportunity to accommodate acts with multiple stereo in-ear mixes. Mixing 18 musicians on 44 inputs is obviously a challenge, but the experience of mixing this band has made me a much better engineer and given me a new respect for this type of music. After years of mixing such artists as Toto, Sammy Hagar, Van Halen and many others, I get the opportunity to take a whole different approach.

Setzer's guitar amps take a Shure SM57 and KSM 27.

“To close-mike the 13 individual horns, a drum kit that needs an overall room sound, an upright slap bass, Brian's signature guitar sound, vocals and then create a final live mix that is truly just one full natural sound is a lot more fun than work.”

Ostrin is carrying a few pieces of outboard gear, including a TC Electronic 2290 and M5000, Eventide H3000 and a Lexicon PCM70. “I use eight channels of Drawmer DS201 noise gates for the drums, although you'd barely know the mics are gated at all due to Bernie Dresel's dynamic style,” Ostrin adds. “But the most important piece of gear I carry is a Lake Mesa unit for system EQ.

“With this act, I like to concentrate on mixing the show rather than chasing inputs all over the stage, and the band is so consistent and tight that they allow me to focus on hitting every single little nuance and solos throughout the night. It requires a lot of focus from song to song — not in effects changes, but in keeping with the dynamics and giving the audience an amazing sound experience.”

Monitor engineer Tim Engwall

Monitor engineer Tim Engwall mixes on a Midas Heritage 3000, citing features such as the clean, warm mic preamps, lots of headroom and tight, accurate EQs. His rack contains 12 channels of QSC PL 236A amps driving Clair Bros. 12am monitor wedges; six channels of Crown I-T 6000s driving three-way stereo Schubert Steradian trapezoid sidefill cabinets; and 12 channels of BSS FCS960 graphic equalizers for wedge and sidefill mixes.

Bass player John “Spaz” Hatton has a stand-up double bass, two pick-ups (one for note and one for slap), a stereo instrument cable from the bass into a rack module on the bass head, and balance adjustment for note and slap. Note and slap signals then go into two separate Countryman DIs.

For background vocalists The Vixens, Shure Beta 57As are employed. “They work well for [The Vixens'] soft vocals over the loud orchestra,” Engwall says. “For the horns, I use Shure wireless SM58s and Beta 98s. They provide good low end for a small mic and they are mountable, allowing the band to swing their horns and go crazy. For flutes and clarinets, I use the AKG C430 — a small mic with a crisp sound and pickup pattern that works for us.

“I really dig what a dynamic audio challenge this band provides. The various instruments allow for various miking techniques and creativity. With sounds from soft flutes to slammin' bass to Brian's rippin' guitar, there can be a lot going on. This band can really wail, making it a pleasure to mix. At the same time, my approach, like the music, is straight-ahead. With 18 people onstage needing to hear themselves, paying attention to detail is big.”

Drummer Bernie Dresel

Bernie Dresel’s kit is miked with Shure B52As (bass drum), SM57 (snare), KSM 109 (hi-hat, ride), SM98s (toms) and KSM 32s (overhead). For the cocktail kit (top), miking is a Beyer M88TG on bass drum mounted internally and a Sennheiser E604 on snare and toms.






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