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 Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney

Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney

Kicking off June 2 at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw's Brothers of the Sun tour will play to more than a million and a half fans in 22 stadium shows over the course of this summer.

In addition to music from his extensive catalog, Chesney and his band are debuting their newest release Welcome to the Fishbowl (BNA Records), including the hits “Come Over” and “Feel Like a Rock Star,” the duet with McGraw. It’s a huge undertaking, boasting state-of-the-art P.A. and video, special guests Grace Potter & The Nocturnals and Jake Owen, and an encore that promises to rock the house.

A tour of this magnitude has serious audio responsibilities, being expertly handled by Bryan Vasquez (front of house), Phill “SidePhill” Robinson (monitors for Chesney and guests) and Bryan “Opie” Baxley (monitors for Chesney’s band). Lights, staging and P.A. are provided by Morris Light and Sound (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), and each of the three engineers is using a Midas PRO9 digital desk to handle approximately 60 inputs from the stage. Front-of-house P.A. is an Electro-Voice X-Line with XLC boxes for the delay system.

Vasquez—Chesney’s FOH engineer for the past 12 years—explains the nature of this particular tour: “We’ve done stadiums in the past, but these are back-to-back Saturdays and Sundays. We’ll roll in Friday morning for a normal stadium load-in, giving us the option of a soundcheck on Friday night. But after the show on Saturday we head for the next city, and that puts a squeeze on us. We won’t have time for soundchecks before the Sunday shows. It’s going to be run-and-gun. In order to make this work, we have two separate rigging packages out, plus some redundant peripheral gear like snakes to front of house. So we can roll in the second day with the P.A. and the lighting rig, fly it, set up the consoles and band gear and do the show.”

Chesney and his entire band are using in-ears. Drummer Sean Paddock and keyboardist Wyatt Beard have their own mixers onstage, while the rest of the band use Sennheiser 2000 Series wireless systems, with JH Audio JH16 Pro earpieces. Chesney is using the Shure PSM 1000 ear system, also with JH Audio JH16 Pros.

Supplementing the ear mixes are wedges (Nexo 45 N-12 arrayable line monitors) and fill speakers. Baxley creates “seven stereo ear mixes for Kenny’s band, but each one of those mixes also has a wedge for low end and fill, and we have sidefills for the guys downstage. We started rehearsals with just the ears, and once we got the mixes comfortable for each musician, we added what they felt was missing in the wedges and fill speakers. The ears do reproduce those frequencies, down to around 50 Hz, but you miss the feel factor, that air movement that you get in a live setting where there are a lot of wedges or where it’s a smaller stage. There’s a lot of separation between each guy on such a big stage.”

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