sound for film & video

Waffles and Moonshine Tour ’13

On the road with Meredith Video Studios for The Next Great Family Band

JANUARY 3 – BOSTON: “You’re sitting on a chair… in the sky!”

In one of my favorite comedic commentaries on modern life, Louis CK observes: “Everyone on every plane should just constantly be going, ‘OH MY GOD!!! WOW!!!!’ ” Having not flown anywhere for quite a bit, it’s what I’m thinking at that magical moment the lift gets under the wings and the wheels leave the tarmac. I’m on my way to three locations well below the Mason-Dixon, and looking forward to studying the local accents, re-experienceing some fine down home cooking, and deducting one week of New England January from the sum total of my life (upon departure to the airport It was all of a hearty 9 degrees Fahrenheit).

Before I’m too far gone, however, Dodge gives me a little parting gift: as we reach altitude I’m treated to a snow-frosted tour of Northern New England, with the Merrimack River, Lake Winnipesaukee, the White Mountains, and the Green Mountains all in a single panoramic view.

In the carry-on space under the seat in front of me sits a new Sound Devices 664 with the CL-6 expander  — not the most dignified place for such a wonderful bit of machinery, but far preferable to the cargo bay.

JANUARY 4 – TUPELO, MISSISSIPPI: Waffles and Moonshine

MORNING: Congratulations! After a dozen trips to the south you’ve finally had your first Waffle House breakfast!

EVENING: Should you find yourself in Tupelo Mississippi and free for the night you want to head straight for The Blue Canoe, where the following will happen:

After battling some hairy tech issues the house sound guy will give you a perfect board mix, and somehow you will manage to drop the room mics in exactly the right place in the middle of the packed crowd. The band will blister, you’ll coil your cables, get everything safely back into the Pelican, and you’ll actually get to sit down and enjoy a couple of drinks, a bit of flirting, and the rest of the band’s set. A fellow of dubious sobriety will ask your exec producer if room can be made for dancing, and exec producer will make… it… HAPPEN. Then the house sound guy will decide he likes you well enough to bring out a little mason jar of very authentic moonshine he’s got stashed in his kit. You’ll give it a sniff, swoon at caramel-oak aroma, take a healthy-but-respectful sip, and your good day will get even better. You’ll then offer the jar to the DP. He will give it a sniff, misunderstand your intent, and the somabitch will shoot every last drop before you’ll get a chance to offer it around to the rest of the crew, never mind give yourself another respectful sip.

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Team NGFB takes Tupelo with the Homemade Jamz Blues Band.

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Best bar bathroom graffiti EVER!


What is this quaint New England Main Street doing on the outskirts of Atlanta? I mean, they even have their own Fall Festival — what’s more New England than that?

Within the first ten seconds of meeting the house sound guy it’s blazingly apparent the experience will not culminate with the sharing of convivial spirits, be they emotional or distilled. He does, however, provide us the second perfect board mix of the trip.

The crew is now punchy enough to shout “Waffle House! Drink!” upon each sighting of yellow and black tiles above the horizon. This being the south, the cry goes up on an average of every seven minutes.

Holla to our waiter Jesus at Ray’s Steak House in Atlanta, who intuits that we want to drench our bread pudding in both Chambord and lemoncello, as well as possessing a voice that could find its way to a shotgun mic without trouble in even the loudest of restaurant locations.

JANUARY 6 – REX, GEORGIA: Southern Hospitality

BAND MOM: “Sweet potato soufflé, collards, large lima beans, roast with gravy, mashed potatoes, glazed carrots, squash and onions, mushrooms… yummy yummy… coleslaw, yeast rolls, and cornbread.” This is the Sunday lunch offered up at the home of The Regulars Band. And she doesn’t even get around to listing the sweet tea, sweet potato pie or any of the other sweets on offer. All remaining resistance to overeating on the trip is utterly vanquished by this onslaught.

The crew spends the evening taking in Argo. Let’s see: producer, associate producer, director, DP, writer, location manager, transportation coordinator… hmmm… and which department isn’t represented here? Yeah, even the bleedin’ CIA treats sound like an afterthought…

Holla to the ‘tender at The Sound Table who makes my exec producer happy with an improvised champagne cocktail and then tacks on complimentary shots of Fernet Branca, even though we’re there no more than ten minutes.

JANUARY 8 – TAMPA: “I give you three guesses. It’s the name of a fish.”

Winter turns to summer, as we travel three color bands towards the red on the weather map. Regional variations dictate that “Waffle House! Drink!” be replaced by “Strip club! Drink!”

We do an acoustic duo during an art benefit at a magnificent-but-empty house for sale with a view of the bay (and a price tag to match). Perfect planning by the DP means we grab the boys rehearsing on the porch with the sun setting over the water behind them, and he makes it look better on screen than it did in real life. The copious input capacity of the 664/CL-6 combo gives me the opportunity to go nuts with isos (board mix, vocal lavs, guitar lavs, omins) and by some miracle introducing all of it into the mix little by little results in a lovely, spacey stereo rough rather than mush. We’re in the process of grabbing some crew photos when one of the guests commandeers the clapboard and proceeds to do nameless and somewhat inebriated things that shouldn’t oughta be done with a clapboard.

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Ian and Evan, being for the benefit of Mr. Art. (Photo: Amy Summers)

DP John Houghton explores the space. (Photo: Amy Summers)

DP John Houghton explores the space. (Photo: Amy Summers)

The team has enough energy left to find closure in one of those modern speak-easies that are so popular with the kids. (Password was not “swordfish”.) First time I’ve ever seen a self-lighting menu. The executive producer is really starting to embrace the craft cocktail thing. I’m already quite happily sated with a Gin Fizz and an Aviator buzzing through my system when she throws down the gauntlet: “So, what are you having for your third?” I think I may have created a monster. That would be cool…

The Next Great Family Band premiers February 17 on Cozi TV.

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