The Broadway adaptation of Alice Walker's book, The Color Purple, recently hit the road and is currently playing an extended engagement in Chicago, with sound design by Jon Weston, a 25-year veteran of theater sound.
Drawmer signal processing equipment figured prominently in the tour. The music for The Color Purple spans gospel, blues, jazz, and rock and is performed by a band big enough to crowd any orchestra pit. Weston specified Drawmer DS404 quad gates and DS501 power gates for all of the drum kit mics along with the electric bass.
When asked about his use of Drawmer gear, specifically the gates, Weston replies, "Drawmer gates are so musical! No matter how fast I need to make the release, there's never a moment when I feel like I've snipped something off. It just sounds like a fader closing very quickly. There's never a perceptible click either, as you can get with other manufacturer's gates. The EQ on the key is so much more effective than other's as well. Drawmer gates are the gold standard because, in my opinion, they are perfect."
Weston specified a Drawmer DL251 spectral compressor for the snare and for the bass drum. "We mix two bass drum mics together," Weston explains, "one just outside the hole, one inside the drum. Then we send those through the DL251 spectral compressor. It takes a little bit of fiddling, but once we have it, it's very nice. When the drummer kicks lightly, we get this nice, warm 'puh' sound. When he kicks a little harder, the spectral compressor kicks in and the sound gets more directed. It's perfect because there are times when the music calls for drive under dialog. We don't always want a big kick characteristic because it may not go with what's happening dramatically."
In addition, seven Drawmer DA6 distribution amplifiers keep the show going. The single rack space, six-channel units handle all of the "show program" distribution for intercom and paging systems for the show. When asked why he chose Drawmer for this application, Weston answers, "Because show program is one thing we cannot afford to have go down during a show. I'm sure we've all had a bad experience with show program going down to the stage manger or the spot booth. With Drawmer and our proprietary distribution scheme, it has yet to happen."
Drawmer products are distributed in the US by Transamerica Audio Group, Inc.