Tour Profile: Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw

Jul 1, 2012 9:00 AM, By Steve La Cerra

Brothers of the Sun 2012


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photo of Phill Robinson, Bryan Vasquez, Bryan Baxley

From left: Phill Robinson, Bryan Vasquez and Bryan Baxley

Robinson concurs, saying, “The fills and wedges help keep up the energy onstage. When we started doing bigger shows three or four years ago, we built a ‘T’ out to the audience, and it was simply not possible to carefully watch both the band and Kenny while Kenny was out on the T. That’s why we split up the monitor mixes. When Kenny’s in front of the proscenium in the sound field of a 60-cabinet P.A. system we have to make sure that the energy stays the same and that there’s no feedback. The start of the show is a little nerve-wracking because Kenny flies in from front of house on a rig that puts him 12 feet above the crowd, directly in front of the P.A. With a giant P.A. that can fill a stadium, it gets interesting some days to make it loud enough without feedback.”

“As Kenny flies around,” Vasquez adds, “I’ll pan his vocal very slightly to the left as he is in front of the right side of the P.A. and vice versa. After working with Kenny for 12 years, I’m able to kind of anticipate problems before they happen.”

photo of Kenny Chesney

Chesney’s vocal microphone is a Shure Axient AXT200 wireless transmitter with a KSM9HS capsule, set to hypercardioid. According to Vasquez, “Kenny likes to cup his hand around the capsule of his vocal microphone. The amazing thing about this Shure is you don’t get that change in tonality, or the feedback, that you get with other microphones when cupped. There’s no outboard processing whatsoever—I just use the preamp in the Pro9, and I try to use as little compression as possible so I can let it breathe.”

It may come as a bit of a surprise that all three engineers use minimal processing, almost all of which is onboard the Pro9s. Baxley says that he uses one of the Pro9’s onboard Klark Teknik reverbs in an unconventional manner for the top snare drum microphone: “You know how you can dial in the LF or HF on the reverb? We’re actually using that on the snare top mic to get a little bit more 250 Hz out of the snare—we’re doing it with the reverb, not the EQ. I have the reverb inserted on that channel and I use the dry/wet mix to make sure that the level of the snare is the same whether the insert is in or out. It sounds crazy that I am using a time-based processor on an insert, but it works.”

Baxley also notes that he does not use gates on the drum mics because Paddock plays brushes in one or two spots and likes to be able to back his dynamics way down without worry that he’ll hear gates popping in and out. Mics for the drum kit include Audio-Technica AE5100 for hat and ride, ATM650 for snare bottom, AT4081 ribbons for overheads (“They sound like you’re standing next to the kit,” states Baxley), Heil PR28 for toms, Shure SM57 for snare top, and Shure Beta 52 and Yamaha SubKick on the kick drum.

Vasquez notes that some of the guitar amps are “placed offstage and some of the guys have cabinets behind them. The offstage cabinets are placed inside big foam-lined boxes with Shure SM57s—30 years and still working! Bassist Steve Marshall has an 8x10 cab onstage, but I take my signal from the balanced line output of an Avalon Vt-737, and he uses the other output for his rig. I don’t mike the cabinet, it’s just the Avalon.”

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