Learning Live Sound Production (part 1)

In 2008, I began a live sound production apprenticeship under a seasoned professional by the name of Dave Hill.

I met Dave while working at a gas station located on Lyndale Avenue in Uptown Minneapolis. I told him about my interest in music and recording. He then told me that if I wanted to get serious about recording that I would need to know the basics and learn live sound. Dave explained to me that if I wanted to have great recordings, that I simply must know how to manage sound in a live environment. Boy was he right! Without fully grasping this seemingly simple concept, I would have been lost and had no knowledge to troubleshoot when situations were dire.

Dave invited me to watch and learn from him. The first show I attended was for the band Summit Avenue at Bunker’s, located in the Warehouse District. He told me to arrive at 3pm to begin learning how to setup. I was confused as to why we had to start so early and he said to produce the best sound possible that you have to arrive early to ensure the venue’s equipment is in working order. Power, lights and gear must all be checked to be working and in the event that anything doesn’t work, it is our responsibility to take it up with the venue to secure the proper accommodations for us to do our job right, and our job is to make the bands sound great!

I arrived at Bunker’s at 3pm and Dave greeted me. First thing we did was go into the basement and turned the power on for the stage.

Next thing we did was we went to the bar and each got a shot of whiskey and a glass of water. Dave said this is just to loosen up any nerves and get the gears moving. “You only need just this one. Any more than that and you are going to get trouble.” He continues, “Don’t try to slam it all in one shot, like Americans do.” Oh, one thing I should mention here is Dave is a native of England. “Just sip and enjoy. And if you need, chase it with the water.”

Part 2