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The 9 best live sound engineers in the Twin Cities

The 9 best live sound engineers in the Twin Cities
Erik Hess

Live sound engineers are the unsung heroes of this song-and-dance routine we call rock 'n' roll. They show up first, leave last, and sometimes don't even get paid as much as the bartenders they work with. Their work day consists of battling complex and fickle equipment, soothing volatile egos, and hours of attentive listening, all at volumes that would make a construction worker reach for a pair of earplugs. Not to mention, if things go wrong, they're often an easy scapegoat for critics and laypeople who wouldn't know an XLR cable from an RCA but still feel like they know "good sound" when they hear it.

So, in tribute to those hard-working men and women behind the boards, Gimme Noise has crafted this list. It's by no means a complete one, as there's a whole host of fantastic techs in the Twin Cities, but it's the least we can do. From the folks who set up two microphones and a chair, to the crack teams who manage hundreds of channels of audio at stadiums and festivals, this is for you. Thanks for all the great shows.

Chris Frymire
Chris Frymire
Courtesy of Chris Frymire

Chris Frymire

Regular gig: The Cedar Cultural Center, with his company Modern Minstrel Mixing
Age: 52
Years in Town: 40
Years in the Biz: 34
Gig Pet Peeves: Broken, or bad-sounding instruments and/or equipment. If you bring it to the gig, make sure it works and know how to hook it up correctly, otherwise, just leave it at home. Folks who bring too big an amp to a small room, and cannot seem to get their "tone" without being the loudest player in the room. Incorrect Tech Riders. Out of control egos.
Favorite Piece of Live Gear: Analog Midas Consoles, Earthworks Mics.
Favorite Local Act: There are so many good local acts to choose from, but any show with Dean Magraw in the mix is on the top of my list.

John "JB" Robert Brown V

Regular gig: The Triple Rock Social Club
Age: 35
Years in Town: 32
Years in the Biz: 15
Gig Pet Peeves: It can vary, usually I find being laid back and not getting caught up on little things is the best way to run a show.
Favorite Piece of Live Gear: For everyday throw-and-go shows I like the TC Electronic M-One Dual Effects Processor.
Favorite Local Act: The one with that drummer...

Ryan Olcott

Regular gig: The Kitty Cat Klub
Age: 39
Years in Town: 19
Years in the Biz: Sound tech for 10 years
Gig Pet Peeves: Stinky people
Favorite Piece of Live Gear: Shure SM58 Mic
Favorite Local Act: Professionally neutral. I leave my taste at the door.

 

Alex Proctor
Alex Proctor
From Facebook

Alex Proctor

Regular Gig: Icehouse
Age: 27
Years in Town: 9
Years in the Biz: 8
Gig Pet Peeves: When a band asks from stage to the crowd, "How does it sound?" and bad communication from bands.
Favorite Piece of Live Gear: Electrovoice ND/868
Favorite Local Act: Too many to pick one! On An On and Fat Kid Wednesday are two I love though.

Ron Anderson

Regular Gig: First Avenue
Age: 57
Years in the Biz: 31, with First Avenue since 1985.
Gig Pet Peeves: On-stage vocal processors
Favorite Pieces of Live Gear: My favorite piece of gear remains the Effectron II, Deltalab model ADM1024. This is a very early digital delay that has been in the Entry longer than I have.
Favorite Local Act: Mofos/Hypztrz

Randall Hawkins

Regular gig: First Avenue, Soundset Festival
Age: 46
Years in Town: 26 in Minneapolis, 14 in St Paul
Years in the Biz: 24 Professionally
Gig Pet Peeves: Quiet, quiet singers with loud loud bands, Assholes (I don't know everything and neither do you), drunken audience members that fall on FOH.
Favorite Piece of Live Gear: Our Midas H3000, Nothing like them and ours is in pristine condition, I tour with a Digital desk because the 3K will not fit in the trailer...
Favorite Local Act: Atmosphere, Cloud Cult and Zebulon Pike are the first ones that come to mind.

 

Craig Eichhorn, they way he'd like to be remembered.
Craig Eichhorn, they way he'd like to be remembered.
Courtesy of Craig Eichhorn

Craig Eichhorn

Regular gig: Technical Director of The Dakota Jazz Club
Age: 54
Years in town: I was born at Abbott Hospital in 1959, graduated from Washburn high school and was in the radio program at KBEM located at Vocational high school. I spent 12 years in San Diego working for PBS, producing concerts and doing sound for several venues. I moved back in 1989 and worked 16 years on the air for Jazz 88 and have been doing sound at the Dakota for 22 years.
Years in the biz: Approaching 40 years
Gig pet peeves: Singers that don't bring their own microphone. Are you kidding me? Spending too much time trying to make the monitors sound like a CD. Can you hear it? Performers who think I'm the enemy. No matter how rude you are to me, my only concern is making you sound as good as possible. I've been abused by some of the greatest musicians but I don't grin and bear it, I deal with it right away. Brian McKnight was extremely abusive and when I confronted him he understood where I was coming from and we now have a great relationship.
Favorite piece of live gear: Probably the Meyer speakers at the Dakota. While people want to immortalize the old Dakota, it was a shithole. To make anything sound good in there was pure luck.

Zaneta Ogar
Zaneta Ogar
Courtesy of Zaneta Ogar

Zaneta Ogar

Regular gig: Paisley Park, Dakota Jazz Club and Music & Movies in the Park. Touring tech for Shellac, Haley Bonar, and Svoboda.
Age: 26
Years in Town: 5
Years in the Biz: 3
Gig Pet Peeves: Lack of consideration for others and their time.
Favorite Pieces of Live Gear: Marshalls that go up to 11.
Favorite Local Act: There is such a wide spectrum of music in the Twin Cities that I find it impossible to choose just one favorite.

Todd Behrens, instructing the next generation
Todd Behrens, instructing the next generation
Courtesy of Todd Behrens

Todd Behrens

Regular Gig: Production Manager for Allied Audio, clients include Prairie Home Companion, MN State Fair (Leinie Lodge, International Bazzar, Heritage Square), Rock The Garden, Irish Fair, Mystic Lake Amphitheater, Bunkers, Fine Line, Metropolitan, Whiskey Junction, Epic (Allied Install), and the Cabooze.
Age: 43
Years in town: 21
Years in the biz: 21
Gig pet peeves: Lighting Guys. Kidding!!! Actually it's lateness and "The Blame Game."
Favorite piece of live gear: Avid Venue and anything L-Acoustics
Favorite local acts:(Past) Greazy Meal, (Current) The Combo, Hookers & Blow


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