George Strait and Martina McBride

Mar 1, 2013 9:00 AM, Mix, By Tom Kenny

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Martina McBride and George Strait

Martina McBride and George Strait

The adulation for George Strait has to be experienced to be believed. The stats are amazing: 66 Number Ones, 20 Platinum records, 72,000-seat sellout in Houston this month. But numbers don’t prepare you for the roar that accompanies his entrance into an arena. It’s like teenage girls greeting N’Sync in 1999, no lie…except these are cowboys, and the roar has a bigger low-end.

This is after Martina McBride, a headliner in her own right who is opening 20 of the 21 dates, and who gets four to five standing-Os a night, gets in on the action, shouting out in the middle of her 70-minute set that she’s the luckiest girl in Nashville because “I get to open for George Freakin’ Strait!” At which point the crowd goes ballistic. Crazier than you’re even thinking right now.

You couldn’t ask for a better pairing at the start of this two-year “The Cowboy Rides Away” tour: Strait, one of the last of the cowboy troubadours, and McBride, who has always had one ear in Patsy Cline and another in today, with one of the most pure and powerful voices in any genre. On a recent three-day run of Sacramento-Fresno-Las Vegas arenas, the two worked up a two-song duet—“Jackson” and “Golden Ring”—and debuted them on the second night to thunderous applause; it was rumored to be the first time in over 30 years of touring that Strait has brought an artist on stage that he hasn’t made a record with. They are obviously having a ball on this last run through the States.

The P.A., always hung in the round for a George Strait show, was supplied and supported by Onstage Systems of Dallas. It’s an original V-DOSC rig, supplemented by the addition five years ago of alternating columns of Kudos, on an inside-outside configuration, two columns of each per side in the arena setup. There are four Lake LM44 processors running Lake Controller 6.0 with Smaart 7 analyzer bridge. Other than that, the audio setups couldn’t be more different between the two camps, with McBride on a decidedly analog signal chain, complete with wedges, and Strait on ears, with an all-digital FOH and monitor package.

George Strait’s audio crew at the Avid Profile, Las Vegas, from left: Fly and FOH tech Ernie Gonzalez; production manager Paul Rogers; FOH engineer and audio crew chief George Olson; monitor engineer Josh Kaylor.

George Strait’s audio crew at the Avid Profile, Las Vegas, from left: Fly and FOH tech Ernie Gonzalez; production manager Paul Rogers; FOH engineer and audio crew chief George Olson; monitor engineer Josh Kaylor.

“We switched to the Avid Profile a few years ago, moving off the 5D, so George has been all-digital for a while now,” explains six-year Strait FOH mixer and audio crew chief George Olson, who works closely with Fly and FOH tech Ernie Gonzales. “We work pretty much entirely in the box. There are a lot of great plug-ins out there, but we’ve settled on the Maag EQ4 for vocal EQ on each of George’s four mics around the stage, then across that group of four I put a touch of McDSP ML4000 for compression, just to keep his voice up in the mix.






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