Nine of the Best Live Sound Engineers in Dallas
Here's a few of the folks who bend over backwards, often for peanuts, to produce live local music. A disclaimer: This is not a complete list -- there are plenty of great sound engineers in Dallas, and these are just a few of our favorites. Note also that this doesn't include Denton or Fort Worth -- we suspect both are worthy of their own lists.
Sound engineers tend to be an under appreciated lot; juggling indelicate fans with delicate electronics that won't tolerate a spilled drink, plus musicians (with their varying and colorful personalities). There are a million and one reasons why live sound can sound wrong, and only some of the reasons can be attributed to the FOH person. Live music production, by nature, will always have it's shares of follies and challenges throughout the show...and while some of our knob-twiddlers can certainly be more socially pleasant than others, they're far from being the bad guy most of the time. They all have to deal with being the brunt end of anything that might go awry during the precarious process of presenting live music. Really, FOH techs are just people who (just like us) are there because they love live music. Point being, they deserve a cheers and a hooray.
So here's your chance to get to know a few of Dallas' live music sound-crafters, in no particular order, mind you.
Jeff "JT" Dayton running sound at Dia De Los Toadies
Age : 40
Venues : House Of Blues, Double Wide, Trees, & several others
Years in Town : 13ish
Years in the Biz: 19ish
Gig Pet Peeves: A band (or worse, their manager/girlfriend/boyfriend) telling me how to mix them...especially when they clearly don't have an understanding of live audio! Also, when "Okay, this is our last song" becomes a 23 minute long opus.
Favorite Piece of Live Gear : Gear that works!
Age: I am 39 years old.
Venus: I am a touring engineer mostly. I have done fill in shows at Trees over the past two years on my down time.
Years Mixing in DFW: I have been mixing in DFW for 20 plus years.
Years in the Biz: I have been in the business about 22 years.
Gig Pet Peeves: Pet peeves at this point are not even an issue anymore. If you must, let me do my job and you do yours.
Favorite Piece of Live Gear: Favorite piece of gear is my ears & my intact hearing, hands down!
Chris Carmichael, also of the band The King Bucks, running sound at DaDa.
Age: 37yrs old.
Venues: Chief Engineer Club Dada . Various contract jobs and festivals in the DFW area.
Years Mixing in Town: I guess I started mixing when I was around 23 or 24 years old.
Years in the Biz: I've been kickin' around in the music industry for about 20 years at this point.
Pet Peeves: Really more of a set of guidelines. A couple of big ones are: 1) Be on time and be organized. 2) Help me and be pleasant and I'll work my ass off to make your experience as easy and fun as possible. I know what it's like up there and for an hour or so, I'm part of your band. Try to remember that.
Venues: Palladium Ballroom, Cowboys Arlington, Clearview..currently on tour with George Strait and mixing all outdoor Dallas Symphony shows.
Years mixing in DFW: Approximately since 1990.
Years in the biz: Been in this business since 1987.
Gig pet peeves: Biggest artists pet peeves would have to be insane stage volume & monitor issues. Diana Ross makes everyone leave the room for sound check. Paul McCartney has a no crew beef eating policy.
Favorite piece of live gear: The Lake Processor changed everything.
Joseph Cabrera/Dallas Metal Scene
Lee Russell Age: I am approximately 45.
Venues: Trees, Firewater.
Years mixing in DFW: 12 years mixing in DFW
Years in the biz: 28 years in business, I think. After 20 it's a bit of a blur.
Gig pet peeves:Showing up late for load in, playing longer than they are supposed to.
Favorite piece of live gear: Right now my Newtek Tricaster is my fave for making the live videos. I really like my Lab Gruppen and Powersoft Amplifiers. My delay finger is pretty awesome. I take it with me everywhere!
Heath Gage. Photo by Bill Ellison.
Heath Gage Age: 33
Venues: Granada Theatre, Latino Cultural Center, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines
Years mixing in DFW: About six years.
Years in the biz: 15 years
Gig pet peeves: Turning guitar amps to an 11, left-handed drummers. Damn those left handed drummers!
Age: Approximately old enough to know better....or 59-ish. Venues: Kessler Theatre.
Years mixing in DFW: Live, about 3 years. Studio, post production about 35 years.
Years in the biz: About 40 years, sort of off and on at first ...
Gig pet peeves: Artists who are inconsiderate of their support act. Also, disingenuous encore affect. I remember having to earn that encore.
Favorite piece of live gear: Midas Heritage Console ... a beautiful beast.
Brian Fiegelman. Photo: Justin Reed
Age: 33 years old.
Venues: House of Blues, Three Links, I also installed the PA at Club Dada, and I'm FOH/Tour Manager for the O's.
Years mixing in DFW: 9 years.
Years in the biz: 11 years.
Gig pet peeves: Bands who come in with rock star attitudes who have in no way earned it yet. The girlfriend of the lead singer telling me how to mix her boyfriends band. Or, any family member or friend telling me what person they can't hear!
Favorite piece of gear: Midas Heritage Console, Sennheiser 901 Mic.
Age: Mid 40's.
Venues: Curtain Club, Clearview, Dada, Renos, Galaxy Club, Trees.
Years mixing in DFW:Started mixing around 1993 at Trees, running monitors for Jimmy McMillions aka James McWilliams who brought me into the live part of the equation.
Years in the biz: Been engineering audio since the mid '80s with Jim King at Trey Garrity, "Hard Night's Day" bassist's, house. He had a studio which nobody had back then, in his house. Then there were the Course Of Empire records with Castell and Fryer, finally at our own studio.
Gig pet peeves: I try not to have too many. Bands are doing the best they can on a local and touring level for the most part. Peeves come from touring acts that should be a bit more professional. Keeping on time, and giving good info for what they need ahead of time would be probably the only things.
I guess when somebody asks me for reverb on their voice and the vocals up...Look I know that. OK, here is a peeve that has nothing to do with the band: Sound checking the band while monitors are being set, and the mains aren't on so no sound in the front of house yet. There is always some friend out front who immediately starts complaining they can't hear this or that to the band like a whiny little bitch. I like to unmute at full volume in those cases.
Favorite piece of Live Gear: I'm a fan of the TC Electronic reverbs and delays, higher end classic DBX compression, and waves plugins...now that you can integrate into the digital environment. Of course we are talking about live, not studio and you see these pieces all the time. For mixing FOH, Midas is still hands down the best sounding board in my opinion, but not many to be found these days. Yamaha Digi everywhere, which is fine too. Lee over at Trees and I both salivate over the new CL5 series. But perhaps my favorite piece of gear are my two ears that still work.
James McWilliams While he's not the easiest fella to get a hold of, he absolutely deserves a mention here. McWilliams ran sound at Curtain Club for a long time and likely rattled the foundation loose underneath Skilman Street Pub with booming, jet-engine mixes of bands like The Phuss and House Harkonnen. What his friends had to say most often to describe him is that "he can be a bit of an enigma!" and "he is the live sound king, as far as I'm concerned."
Adam Carter Also known as Adam 45, and the bassist for Spector 45, The Marfalites and more. Carter worked hard and gave his best to take special care of bands coming through at spots like Lakewood Bar and Grill, where he sometimes mixed the bands. With Carter (and Lakewood B&G for that matter) gone and missed, we couldn't help but think of him here.
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