Last night after church service, we threw a going away party for our long-time sound guy, Joe, who will be moving a couple of hundred miles to the south in San Luis Obispo. Joe has run sound for me since 2001, when it was just me playing solo for our fledgling service. Twelve years later, we’re playing to a packed house, and I’ve got a full band with several singers each week. While our growth has a lot to do with the band’s various participants, if it hadn’t been for Joe’s tireless efforts in making sure we had quality gear and a well-maintained PA system (which he spec’d out and even built many custom pieces), and even making sure our mics and monitors were set up before we did our pre-Mass rehearsal, we would be just another ho-hum church band, and probably a lot smaller. Joe even trained a team of teens and adults to take over his work, and the teens even run the board during Mass. He was a great mentor; he’s a great friend and he will definitely be missed.
For our venue, having sound reinforcement was and continues to be essential because we can’t crank up our amps. Our stage volumes can’t be too loud because we have people sitting pretty close to our performance area and we’d blow them out with volume. We even have to put a plexiglass cage around our drummer to direct his sound upwards, and he has to play with rods as opposed to full sticks – well, at least for most of the service. But we do open it up on the last song, which is usually a rocker. 🙂
The point to all this is that any band that has had a sound tech knows the tech’s value. In addition to helping maintain gear, they’re also responsible for making sure the band sounds good during performance. A band can have all the talent in the world, but if they’re not sounding good through the PA, talent doesn’t matter. Of course, the sound tech should be able to “hear” the mix and balance it out, but most I’ve worked with have been pretty good with that, and where they haven’t been that good, they’re open to input.
I’ve heard of people fighting with their sound guy; especially guitarists. 🙂 I’ve debated with them in the past, but I do realize that they’re out there, and I’m not, so I tend to trust what they’re hearing.