July 2016 Archives

Pro Sound Madison

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Sorry the blog has been so quiet for the past few months, but things have been quite busy with my new side venture: Pro Sound Madison.

It's been a fun, semi-exhausting, semi-stressful start, but the results have been excellent. I believe I previously mentioned some of the gear I've acquired and have talked about Kiki's House of Righteous Music, so I won't bore you with all of the details around that stuff.

The old saying, "It takes a village to raise a child," is pretty accurate when you're starting a new company (especially a company that has a bunch of huge, bulky, expensive equipment). I couldn't have raised this "child" without the help of a few really awesome people, especially Jenny, Kiki, Tony, Dan & Tara, and my pals Jeremy K and Jeremy N. None of the PSM stuff would have been possible without their help and support, and I am extremely grateful for all of them.

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Jenny has been my amazingly awesome girlfriend for a few years, and she supports (nearly) everything I try to do. On the occasion where an idea of mine is truly half-baked or completely ridiculous, she'll step-in and prevent me from going completely off the rails. With Pro Sound Madison, she has been an incredibly supportive and awesome partner. I couldn't ask for more. She's been a roadie (loading-in/loading-out gear, winding cables, etc), a stand-in (helping with sound checks, setting levels, etc), a consultant (reviewing the new website, logos, photos, etc), and a cheerleader (attending shows, giving a pat on the back, and so on). I am super grateful and extremely fortunate, to say the least, and I appreciate every thing about her. Thank you!!!! xoxoxo

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Kiki (picture compliments of Madison.com; she's standing on the left) is one of the most amazing people I've ever met. She got me back into running sound on a regular basis, which led to all of this (so I guess it's sort of a love/hate relationship... hehe, just kidding). Kiki is so supportive, positive, and appreciative - it's a joy and honor to work with her at her infamous House of Righteous Music. There was just another front page newspaper article about her today - she really is an icon not only in Madison but the music scene in general. Thank you for trusting me with your house of music, Kiki!!!

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Tony is one of those rare people that there just aren't enough of in the world any more. Tony has a super successful home repair/restoration business, yet is always willing to lend me a hand, no matter what, when, or where. He has such a wealth of knowledge, and a work ethic like none other. He has helped me out of so many pinches, I'll never be able to fully repay him. Without him and his willingness to help, I'd be completely sunk. If you ever come to a show, and you see a guy working three times harder than anyone else, and doing it all with a smile, that's Tony. Be sure to say hi, and to thank him on my behalf, because he truly is incredible.

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Dan & Tara have been lifelong friends of mine, and they have also hired me to provide sound for a regular gig of theirs. Like Jenny, Kiki, and Tony, they have also been extremely supportive, and have trusted my services without question. They are always willing to lend a hand, or to let me use their shop or tools or whatever. I really value their friendship, and feel like I take more from than I give back to them. I need to balance things out in that department... :-)

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Jeremy N & Jeremy K are newer friends, but the friendship seems like it's been in place for decades. They're both amazingly talented musicians, and they both work in the music industry, which has been a godsend for my new venture. They have not only provided me with some amazing deals on gear, they have helped me make informed purchases as well. Their band, _AshAria_ played my kick-off party despite the fact that it was an outdoor show with a major thunderstorm in the vicinity. I vow to do everything I can to help them and their band become an international name.

The Gear

I've spent the past few months scouring craigslist, Reverb.com, pro sound boards, eBay, and whatnot, trying to acquire the exact equipment that I wanted for my base system. After a lot of driving around, countless phone calls and e-mails, and several U-Haul rentals, I acquired almost enough gear to handle any situation.

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That's one of my amplifier racks, and it's filled with about 16,000 watts of power. :-)

Note to those looking to start a live sound company... be prepared to spend a boatload of money on cables and other non-sexy gear. According to my general ledger, I now own more than $2,000 in microphone, speaker, and sound processing cabling. That's *just* cabling... oye.

I have so much equipment, that I had to rent a storage unit in a climate controlled facility - my house couldn't hold it all, and it wasn't much fun lugging 100-pounds of amplifiers up and down stairs on a regular basis. Jenny and Tony say the storage unit was the best thing I purchased so far. ;-)

In addition to equipment, there were soft costs: having a logo made, getting banners printed, getting t-shirts for me and the crew, and so on. Can I also add that t-shirts, banners, and tents are ridiculously expensive as well? Not as bad as the cables, but wow...

Here's my initial logo - I'll probably change it after a while, but for now, it'll do:

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So, with a storage unit full of equipment, t-shirts, banners, weather-proof pop-up tents, and really expensive cabling, it was time to hold a kick-off show. On Thursday, June 30, I rented a park in downtown Madison, arranged for _AshAria_ to play a show, and invited about 60-70 people to help celebrate the advent of Pro Sound Madison.

I was shocked to have nearly everyone show-up, even more so because there was a massive, ugly thunderstorm due to hit the city, and right in the middle of my party. Nice... oh, and that brings up another insane cost - renting a park in Madison.

Our wonderful city doesn't make it cheap or easy to rent their facilities... you must book the park at least 3-weeks in advance, and if there's bad weather, too bad. No rescheduling or relocating, unless you're willing to pay a King's ransom to do so. Want to play music? Pay the city more. Want to have beer? Pay the city even more. Want to try to reschedule because a hurricane is about to hit the park? Pay the city even more, again.

...enough ranting... the event really did go well, even with the weather issues. It was super great to see everyone, and I truly appreciate everyone who came out to say hi and to support the new venture.

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Jenny and Tony helped me set-up, configure, calibrate, and then relocate (due to the weather) all of the system in no-time flat. I was super pleased with the performance of the system, even if it debuted under less-than-ideal conditions. It helped validate that I made some smart moves with purchasing.

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Following the party, and thanks to Kiki, I was hired to provide sound for Wisconsin Brewing Company and their 2nd annual Depth Charge release party. Depth Charge celebrates the release of a super limited-edition beer of theirs, and it does so with live music and about 1500 people in attendance. It was truly an honor to be asked to provide sound services for the event, and I'm pleased to share that the event was a huge success, the weather cooperated, and the band sounded incredible.

Thankfully I knew the band that was playing quite well, because they are not only a favorite of Kirby Nelson's (owner of Wisconsin Brewing Company), but also of Kiki's. The group, Jon Dee Graham & The Fighting Cocks have played at Kiki's more than 15 times. While they're from Austin, TX, they do tour the world *a ton* and always swing through Madison whenever they're in the area. Kiki had a show with them on Friday, July 8, and the WBC event was Saturday, July 9, so it was a really convenient thing.

Saturday proved to be quite warm; Tony and I were sweating our collective butts off within minutes of starting to set-up. Thank goodness for that pop-up tent; it provided some much needed (and appreciated) shade for us. I guess it was money well-spent.

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I received a ton of great comments and feedback from people who attended, so that was really extra gratifying. It was also super cool to be able to walk the entire facility and mix sound - I love that wireless mixing console.

Here are a few random photos from the event...

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Tony and me, just a few minutes before the sound check. Double-checking a DI (Direct In) box from the bass player's amp; it was a little wonky, so we switched to using a microphone. Photo compliments of Marty "Beef" Ballard (hey buddy!)


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Kirby and his daughter, about 40-feet in the air, using a pair of my wireless microphones to announce and narrate the events that were taking place for the Depth Charge release ceremony.


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Jenny and me, waiting for the music to start. Grateful for that tent (and plenty of ice cold water)!!


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Foreground: some of the amplifiers and signal processing gear. Background: Jon Dee singing to the audience.


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Mixing and enjoying crystal clear sound from about 200-yards away.


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Goofing around while on break, with Heidi (left; one of our good friends), Jenny (center), and me.


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A view of the mixing console and the signal processing application as the band plays in the background.


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One of the final shots from the night - the band, playing its final set.


So, as I said, the event was a great success and a wonderful experience. I can't wait to do more with the Wisconsin Brewing Company, soon - they're great folks!!

And that about wraps-up my updates. If you, or anyone you know, needs some live sound services (including DJ services), be sure to let me know! Please take a peek at Pro Sound Madison and/or follow me on Instagram at www.instagram.com/prosoundmadison.

Hope to see you at an event, soon!

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This page is an archive of entries from July 2016 listed from newest to oldest.

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