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New Orleans Jazz Fest 2015 - It's a Wrap!

Posted May 2015

The raw energy of New Orleans' Jazz & Heritage Festival would be hard to exaggerate-it's a riot of musical color, a roaring week and a half of electricity that somehow celebrates the past, the present, and the future of jazz in one multilayered celebration. The festival itself dates back to 1970, headlined by gospel great Mahalia Jackson and jazz legend Duke Ellington-today, this unique event is home to a smorgasboard of musical genres including jazz, gospel, Cajun, zydeco, blues, R&B, rock, funk, African, Latin, Caribbean, folk, and much more.

This year, the heat turned up in New Orleans-80 degrees and rising-as the Jazz and Heritage Festival got itself ready for the 460,000 people who would swarm its fairgrounds over the next week and a half. As in the past decade, Audix was on the front lines of the festival with the engineers, crew, and musicians of Jazz Fest, supplying over 400 microphones for over 5,000 musicians and 500 acts in the festival's different stages.

Here are a few highlights from Jazz Fest 2015 as seen through the eyes of Audix Co-Founder Cliff Castle. "If you have not experienced the Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans, you need to put it on your bucket list!" he says. "It is unique in every way and there is no other event that I know of that offers such a wide diveristy of music in a mutli-stage format with unrivalled sound quality.

Fais Do Do Stage

Our first stop of the event was the Fais Dodo Stage. The stage features a huge variety of Audix mics-D Series, OM Series, you name it. The stage gets incredibly loud and is a testament to the impressive feedback rejection of Audix mics.

L to R: Brent Moreland, Charles Chopper Brady (FOH) , Audix VP of Sales Cliff Castle, Chris Brown from Soundcheck (Monitors) , and Joseph Renfore.

Gentilly Stage

Here's a shot from the Gentilly Stage, where FOH engineers Jeff Gex and Eddie Pearce were arguing over which knob to turn next during Marc Broussard's set  (which was brilliant by the way).

Congo Stage

Behind the scenes at the Congo Stage, John "Buggs" Parkinson was getting the biggest baddest kick drum sound you have ever heard.   We asked, D6?   He nodded an "Oh Yeah."

Folk Art Stage

This stage was tucked away in Folk Village. It featured a wide variety of cultural performances, all of which were captured with Audix F50 microphones. VP Cliff Castle jumps in with the performers for a quick shot between sets...

The Acura Stage

The Acura Stage is known for hosting headline acts (like the Who, No Doubt, and Elton John), and it covers a vast amount of space. The Clair Brothers proprietary PA System featured distributed arrays that allowed people to view the stage (with the help of large video screen) even from 150-200 yards away. The sound of that system was nothing short of miraculous. One of the featured acts was New Orleans' own Marcia Ball, whose piano style includes elements of zydeco, swamp blues, Louisiana blues, and boogie woogie. Marcia relies on the Audix OM6 for vocals.

Marcia Ball - Acura Stage


Marcia's FOH sound engineer Johnny Medina has been with her for 20 years. Johnny was using the OM7 for her vocals and more recently changed to the OM6 as it gives her a bit more freedom to sing off the mic. Saxophonist Thad Scott used the Audix ADX20i clip on condenser mic in conjunction with an RAD360 wireless. In addition to SCX1s, i5s, and a variety of D series mics, Johnny also uses the MicroD on snare, claiming that the MicroD is perfect for brushes and also handles the SPLs of a full-on backbeat.

Economy Stage - Piano Mics

One instrument that is paramount in New Orleans style music is the piano.  It is very difficult to mic, especially in a live setting.  Most of the performances that featured piano were being miked with the SCX25A mics (AKA "The Lollipop).   However, at the Economy stage, which featured traditional New Orleans Jazz and Blues, they were using a baby grand.  The SCX25A was picking up too much of the surrounding instruments, particularly the stand up bass.   

FOH Engineer Richard Thornton found a unique combination of miniature condenser mics that have not previously been used for that application: The Audix ADX40.  The other miniature mics that he was using weren't getting enough gain, and there were areas of the keyboard where the mics were creating hot spots. The ADX40s were the perfect fix. He set them up with DFLEX MICRO shockmount clips, which incorporate specially designed shock mount rings to hold the Micros Series mics perfectly in place. He not only got more gain, but also a more accurate sound.             

The Jazz Tent - Stephanie Jordan

One of the high points of the whole festival was Stephanie Jordan and Her Big Band. Stephanie is an outstanding vocalist who stays true to the jazz idiom and tradition. She was introduced to the Audix OM6 vocal mic at Jazz Fest 5 years ago. "I fell in love with that mic!" she says. The mic captures all the tonal qualities and nuances of her smooth silky voice, and can handle her strong, powerful riffs at just the right moment. Look for more on Stephanie on our website soon.  Pictured on stage and backstage, Stephanie Jordan with Audix Co-Founder Cliff Castle,

How Do You Use Your D4?

 

The Audix D4 was often seen on trombone at the Jazz Fest - the D4 faithfully captures the rich overtones and percussive nature of that instrument.hat bass!

 

 

 

We also caught a performance from Leroy Thomas and the Zydeco Roadrunners -if you need your spirits lifted, nothing can beat a good Zydeco band, and the driving force is that bass! It's the CabGrabberXL, a D4, and a rock solid bass player holding down that low end.

Soundcheck in 30 Minutes or Less

When a group only has 30 minutes to set up and soundcheck...! Bonsoir Catin with monitor engineer Chris Brown get their OM6 mics positioned for a quick soundcheck before their performance at the Fais Do Do Stage. One thing we heard a lot with our OM microphones was, "Can you please turn my monitor down? Too loud!" Pretty refreshing to all those monitor engineers who hear, "Turn me UP!"

"First we eat, then we do everything else." -M.F.K. Fisher

Aside from the incredible music, the Jazz Fest features a wide variety of native arts and foods. The Food Heritage and Cajun Cabin Stages bring a variety of chefs and cooks to demonstrate Louisiana's rich culinary traditions. For live demonstrations, the presenters wore HT2 headset mics in conjunction with the RAD360 wireless systems.

And so it goes ......

Seven days of music, food, art, and fine weather.

See you next year in New Orleans!

Photo: Cliff Castle with John "Klon" Koehler, founder of Klondike Sound and Director of Audio for the New Orleans Jazz Festival.

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