BUENA PARK, Calif. (May 11, 2017)—MerleFest celebrated its 30th anniversary this past April and is long considered one of the premier music festivals in the country. Held on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, the festival was founded in 1988 in memory of the late Eddy Merle Watson, son of American music legend Doc Watson. MerleFest is a celebration of ‘traditional plus’ music, a unique mix based on the traditional, roots-oriented sounds of the Appalachian region including bluegrass and old-time music, and expanded to include Americana, country, blues, rock, and many other styles.
The festival hosted over 100 artists performing on 13 stages during the course of the four-day event. This year’s artist line up was a who’s who in country, blues, Americana, and rock with a bit of James Taylor thrown in. In addition to Taylor, artists performing included The Zac Brown Band, The Avett Brothers, Bela Fleck, Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives, just to name a few.
SE Systems (Greensboro, North Carolina) once again handled production for 11 of the stages, and this year provided two new Yamaha RIVAGE PM10 Digital Audio Consoles for front of house and monitors at the Hillside stage. Five stages used Yamaha digital consoles including two CL5s with two Rio3224-D input/output boxes at the Americana stage and two QL5s at the Creekside stage along with a Rio3224-D input/output box and RPio622 and RPio222 box, made for a 128 x 16 system. Yamaha PM5D digital consoles were used as mains and monitors at the Walker Canter and Austin stages.
“I had two days of training on the RIVAGE PM10 before I used it at MerleFest,” states Slobodan ‘Boban’ Petrovic, front of house engineer at the Hillside stage where the crowd swelled to 8,000 for the Avett Brothers performance. With 26 years under his belt as a recording engineer in Serbia and 17 years mixing live sound (ten of which for SE Systems), Petrovic said he used a Yamaha PM5D for many years. I always loved it, and that did help me ease into the new PM10 technology. We had a few guest sound engineers at the Hillside stage that used it for the first time, and were up and running easily and confidently. I used many of the new plug-ins like SILK on all channels according to the real needs of the source, and very often, it did eliminate the extensive use of filters. It turned out as an amazing, clean sound from any digital console that I’ve ever experienced.”
Petrovic said Yamaha product development has a logical pattern. “A recognizable flow of features with new technological advancements give me confidence when I am dealing with something new, and I can easily follow the developers’ ideas and directions.”
“One thing I loved was being able to name channels, adds Ray Stanley, long time freelance monitor engineer for SE Systems who worked the Hillside stage. Fast and simple, no need for board tape. And second, if not first, using the custom fader function in a festival situation instead of chasing inputs through multiple layers, enabled me to combine them on one surface very fast.”
A NEXO GEO D line array was used at the Creekside stage. The system was configured as three line array towers with five GEO D10 top boxes on each fly bar and two GEO subs stacked ground level underneath. NXAmp 4X4 power amps with integrated NX Processor TD Controller powered the GEO D system. Watson, the largest of the stages, used sixteen 45N12 NEXO monitor wedges with four more used on the Cabin side stage. “The GEO D line array system is perfect for the Creekside stage which is primarily an acoustic stage,” states Bryan Smith, SE Systems. “The clarity of the NEXO GEO D and 45N12 wedges was noticed by musicians and festival attendees alike,” Smith said.
For more information on SE Systems, visit www.sesystems.com.
For more information on Yamaha Digital Audio Consoles and NEXO Systems, visit www.yamahaproaudio.com.
PHOTO CREDIT: Bryan Smith, SE Systems
PHOTO ID: Slobodan ‘Boban’ Petrovic at RIVAGE PM10 at Hillside Stage