The Outfit

For two years in the late 80’s I ran the sound system for a rock/blues band called “The Outfit.” Every instrument of a rock or country band is amplified. Each instrument has it’s own amplifier that acts as a monitor for the player. If you can’t hear yourself play, you can’t play. Each amplifier is then run by microphone or directly into a large junction box and through a large cable called the “snake.” So are the drums. The snake cable takes the sound back to the sound board. You’ve probably seen the guy sitting behind a large board full of dials and switches at a concert. This is the sound man. Or woman.

The sound board has a separate channel for each instrument and voice. Each channel has controls for sound quality like bass, mid range and treble. Some special effects like reverb are also included. You also have volume and gain and balance. The sound man controls every aspect of the sound. A good sound man can take an average band and make them sound pretty good. A lousy sound man can take a really good band and make them sound like crap. Therin lies the importance of the job. The sound man needs to know every song the band plays. The instruments need to be blended together to create a harmonious sound. The lead instrument whether it be a guitar, banjo or keyboard needs to be turned up at the beginning of the lead part and back down again when the lead part is over. Bass, treble and midrange sound controls need to be adjusted to keep the sound as true to the original sound of the song whether it’s a cover or an original. The sound man needs to know all the nuances of each song in order to make it all come together so people enjoy what they’re hearing. The sound then goes back from the sound board to the main speakers on each side of the stage.

So this is what I did for The Outfit. The band played every other weekend or so and we always had a good time. All of us were pretty even tempered and got along well. The most important thing is that we all loved music. If you don’t have it in your soul, the is no sense playing. The band eventually broke up and we all went on to play in other groups. Even though we’re all in our 50’s we still all play music. For musicians who really love what they do they will always do it if they can. Music has always been a large part of my life and I think everyone should learn to play something. It’s never to late.

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