All Access: Robert Plant and Alison Krauss

Aug 1, 2008 12:00 PM, Text by Sarah Benzuly


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Robert Plant (left) and Alison Krauss

Robert Plant (left) and Alison Krauss

It's exciting enough to have Robert Plant and Alison Krauss sharing one stage — performing a bunch of tunes from their critically acclaimed duets album, Raising Sand — but then they throw in a truly stellar band (producer/guitarist T Bone Burnett, guitarist Buddy Miller, double-bassist Dennis Crouch, multi-instrumentalist Stuart Duncan and drummer Jay Bellerose). It all adds up to a remarkable show where both artists infuse classic Led Zeppelin tunes with a bluegrass twang, shuttle vocals back and forth on Krauss classics, and all the while intertwine their incredible new album into the set. Mix caught up with the tour at the Greek Theater (Berkeley, Calif.) in late June. Paul Owen, VP of sound company Thunder Audio, told us about the production.

Front-of-house engineer Roy Williams is manning a Midas Heritage 3000. Outboard gear includes dbx 160s, a handful of Avalon tube compressors, a TC Electronic D-One, and Yamaha SPX990s and SPX2000s.
Monitor engineer Dee Miller is also working on a Midas Heritage 3000; his outboard complement includes an Aphex Dominator on Krauss’ Shure 700 in-ears, BSS EQs, dbx 160 and Yamaha SPX990. Krauss is the only artist onstage wearing in-ears; the rest of the musicians and Plant listen through Meyer Sound MJF212 wedges.
According to Owen, the monitor mix is “complicated as they all move all over the place and it changes from when Robert sings on his own, and then it changes when T Bone does a session on his own and Alison sings on her own, so there’s a lot of things being flown in and out.”

T Bone Burnett (right) sings through a Shure SM58, while his electric guitars take Sennheiser e 609 and 409s; his acoustic guitar is miked with an Audio-Technica AE 3100 and a Countryman 85 DI. Above: Burnett’s amp selection.

Roy Williams is pushing the co-headliners’ lavish sound through a Thunder Audio–supplied 24-box Meyer Sound system (above), which comprises 16 MICA side-hangs, HP-700s and M’elodie side-fills, and HP-700 subs; control is via Meyer Sound Galileo and SIM.

Guitarist Buddy Miller’s (above, left) vocals are miked with a Shure SM58, while his instrument takes Audio-Technica AE2500s; his steel guitar is miked with an SM57 while the Auto-Harp sees a Countryman 85 DI.  Meanwhile, multi-instrumentalist Stuart Duncan has SM57s on the fiddle and guitar; his mandolin and banjo are taken DI. He also lends his vocals to the mix, singing through a Shure SM58.

Dennis Crouch’s double-bass is miked with a Shure Beta 52 and an Avalon Pure Class-A Ultra 5 direct DI; slap pick-up takes a Countryman 85 DI. Jay Bellerose’s drum kit has a multitude of mics, including Shure Beta 52 and Beta 91 on bass; SM57s on snare top/bottom and foot percussion; Audio-Technica AE3000s on rack and floor toms; Neumann KM100s for stage-right and -left overheads; Shure VP 88 for stage-center overhead; and Audio-Technica AT3527 on ride cymbal.

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