Paul “Pappy” Middleton
“I’ll fill in if another sound guy is sick or has a family emergency,” offers Paul “Pappy” Middleton, Bonnie Raitt’s tour sound engineer since 1986. “I love to help out but, other than that and my time at Palmyra, I only go on the road with Bonnie.”
And Bonnie only goes on the road with Pappy.
You’ll typically find Middleton either recording bands inside Palmyra Studios, his “vintage analog” North Texas enclave, or upon a live sound stage somewhere in the world with one of the best guitarists and voices in music today: Bonnie Raitt. Her silky tones are matched only by the depth of her guitars and that one-of-a-kind bottleneck slide, and only Pappy can mic up and hear those tones each night as intimately as Bonnie does.
“I’ll go up and squat right down behind her during a soundcheck to hear what she’s hearing,” says Pappy. He has also provided tour sound for an array of voices over the years including Chris Isaak, Julio Iglesias, John Prine, and Bonnie’s 1999 “Bleeding Hearts” tour with Jackson Browne, Shawn Colvin, David Lindley, and Bruce Hornsby. “That Bad Cat amp of hers will just kick me right in the butt! She’ll look right over her shoulder at me and smile as she plays, and I’ll nod to her, ‘Yeah, I know what you’re feeling.” Bonnie just really loves to feel her guitar amp, and as well she should. She is a remarkable player, and I’ll be the first to agree with her: It is all about feel.”
Loud Guitars & Smart Microphones
Bonnie’s guitar amp helps decide Pappy’s longtime vocal mic of choice: the Audix OM5. If you’ve had the chance to see her in concert in the past 10 years, then you’ve heard Bonnie through the OM5. She recently did a show with a chorus line of some of today’s top vocalists performing live duets with her.
“They all brought in their own live vocal mics,” Middleton explains. “All great condenser mics, but none of which have any place onstage with a ripping electric guitar or bass cabinet! Their mics each picked up pretty much everything on stage. That’s why the OM5 is, for me, the most naturally live, ballsy mic around for vocals. It’s really rich on the low end, the midrange is smooth, and then it finishes with that beautiful sweet top end to it without picking up anything else there upon the stage. Can I say that all of our shows have just sounded immense with the OM5 up there on Bonnie?”
Yes, Pappy, you can say.
“That is exactly why I went to the OM5 for Bonnie in the first place, and I’ve stuck with it ever since.”
Visit Pappy Middleton’s Palmyra Studios website to get a further idea of how he’s using his Audix D6, CX-111, SCX-1, and OM5 mics on the road and in the studio.