WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA, July 21, 2010 — In the sweltering June heat, over 75,000 excited concert fans descended upon Manchester, Tennessee, for the ninth Bonnaroo Music and Arts festival, June 10-13, 2010. With headliners including Jay-Z, Dave Matthews Band, Stevie Wonder and Kings of Leon, and a grand total of 160 acts over four days on five main stages and a number of side tents, this year's Bonnaroo was bigger than ever. Backstage, many of the festival's acts were asked to lay down tracks in a purpose-built recording studio, outfitted with the help of Guitar Center Professional (GC Pro), the outside sales division of Guitar Center that focuses on the needs of professional users. The recorded tracks were mixed and mastered immediately and transferred to the radio tent next door for broadcast on radio stations nationwide.
The studio, appropriately dubbed “Hay Bale Studio” after the dozens of hay bales positioned on the exterior for sound rejection, was operated by Nashville's The Toy Box Studio, and Toy Box's producer/recording engineer Lij was at the helm for the sessions. The whole backstage studio/radio area was overseen by Asheville, North Carolina-based Music Allies. In the weeks leading up to the festival, the studio's gear equipment list was compiled by Lij, his two assistant engineers, and GC Pro's Nashville-based Account Manager Chad Evans, who was also on site along with GC Pro Artist Relations Representative Adam Hudson.
Among the gear supplied by GC Pro were a Solid State Logic AWS 900+ SE console; ProTools HD multi-track with Digidesign and Apogee converters; a number of Focusrite ISA mic pre's; a Lexicon PCM96 Stereo Reverb/Effects Processor and a tc electronic M-One Dual Effects Processor; microphones from AKG, Mojave, Heil and Shure; and a full backline of instruments, including acoustic and electric guitars, Fender amps, drums, etc.
All in all, 44 of the festival's artists recorded tracks in the studio, including Tori Amos, the Black Keys, John Prine, Phoenix and others, most playing three songs. The schedule was fast-paced, so there was really only enough time to get set up, check the levels, and perform three songs live, before each band was whisked away to the interview booth, also in the “Hay Bale Studio” trailer, to make room for the next act in the tracking room. “With everything moving so quickly,” noted Evans, “we designed the system to mix everything live to two-track for broadcast. You had to commit and get the sounds as good as you wanted, let them run through the song, and commit to the mix in pretty much 30 or 40 minutes. The recording was the mix-down process, live on the spot, so you don't have time to fool with anything.” Within an hour, the performances had been mixed down to two tracks and prepped for broadcast from the radio tent next door. Approximately 30 radio stations nationwide featured these “Bonnaroo sessions” over the weekend, from Los Angeles to New York. The multi-track sessions were also preserved and given to each artist, for future use if desired.
“It was an amazing experience,” noted Evans. “I can't say that I've ever been in a place and met that many great musicians, producers and engineers all in one weekend. We helped sponsor the studio in 2009, and immediately after last year's festival we started talking about how we could step up our involvement, which led to the great partnership with Lij and crew. We look forward to being involved in a big way for future Bonnaroos, because it's one of the most important events going forward with music. It's a breaking point for a lot of acts, and GC Pro needs to be there, doing what we do best.”
For more information, please visit www.gcpro.com.