From the Studio to the Stage with Keb'Mo'
Every time Kevin Moore puts out an album, he gains a new wave of fans. The urbane bluesman — better known as Keb’ Mo’ — has gone from playing obscure clubs in south central L.A. to filling halls across several continents. His current tour in support of his new album, Suitcase, has him bouncing between Europe and North America, alternating between headlining and sharing the stage with the likes of Taj Mahal and Robert Cray. At the FOH and monitor helms are two Digidesign® VENUE live sound systems.
Both Moore’s longtime FOH engineer, John Schirmer, and monitor engineer Roland Ryan are mixing the shows on D-Show® Profile™ consoles. As Schirmer explains, the VENUE systems are a welcome addition for an artist like Moore.
“I’ve toured with pretty much every digital console there is,” he says. “On some of them, I’ve actually bypassed the preamps completely, because they just didn’t sound right. VENUE is sonically superior to any other digital console.”
The acoustic guitar factors heavily in Moore’s sound, with arrangements that are spare, tight, and organic, making sound quality and imaging even more important. “These days fidelity is important in every show you do,” says Schirmer. “I can’t get away with hiding stuff behind a distorted drum kit. With VENUE I don’t have to play damage control, hiding this with that — I can mix to mix.”
VENUE’s native support of the wide range of TDM plug-ins is an important factor to Schirmer. “Being able to use emulations of vintage compressors really makes my life easier,” he explains. “I can really bring out the detail of the instruments, using plug-ins I’m familiar with. Using VENUE lets me bring some of my studio chops to live mixing, and my live mixing chops to the studio. It all melds together for me, and that helps me be a better engineer.”
Indeed, VENUE’s compatibility with Pro Tools® also plays an important role in the creative process. “Kevin uses Pro Tools|HD in his project studio at home,” says Schirmer. “In fact, we used Pro Tools to track and mix the last record. Kevin has been mixing exclusively in the box since the introduction of Pro Tools|HD. We’re using Pro Tools somewhere pretty much every day.”
Schirmer continues, “Taking the VENUE system on the road allows us to track every show. We’re looking at bringing those shows to the studio, mastering them, and making them available online to his fans.”
Schirmer cites the VENUE system’s Virtual Soundcheck as a major workflow benefit over other consoles he’s used. “Being able to use the live tracks from last night’s gig, compare reverbs, EQs, and set up my mix, that’s just incredible,” he says. “Even if we were lucky enough to get as long a sound check as we want — and how often does that ever happen? — it’s still not the same. A band is never going to play with the same feel and intensity during sound check as they do in front of the crowd. With Virtual Soundcheck, I can loop a piece of last night’s performance, let these guys go have dinner, and pick stuff apart that I’d never have time to do during the gig.”