Kirk Willie — FOH for John Michael Montgomery — raves about his experience mixing on Total Production Group’s ShowMatch system
FRAMINGHAM, Mass. — The latest installment of the Country Freedom Festival took place Feb. 22-23 at Windsor Beach in Lake Havasu State Park, located in Mohave County, Arizona. The two-day festival is a celebration of America, and honors all who have served and are serving in armed forces, including active military, veterans and first responders. The lineup for this event included a wide range of performers including Matt Farris, Wyldsky, the Presley Tennant Band, Whey Jennings (grandson of the legendary Waylon Jennings) and the headliner, multi-award-winning country artist John Michael Montgomery.
Cerritos, California-based full-service AV rental company Total Production Group (TPG) handled the concert production including staging, lighting, trussing, generators and fencing, and employed their ShowMatch line array system from Bose Professional to handle the sound reinforcement needs for the various artists performing. “As a long-time ShowMatch rental house/provider, when planning for this latest Country Freedom Festival, I was confident the Bose rig could handle the job,” stated TPG owner/partner Steve McAllister. “I’m consistently impressed with the performance of the ShowMatch system.”
The system included two hangs of 11 ShowMatch line array modules each; 14 ShowMatch SMS118 single 18-inch subwoofers configured as two four-high ground-stacks (one located beneath each main hang); with two additional three-high cardioid-configured sub stacks in between, each topped with front fills. Consoles for FOH and monitors included two DiGiCo S31 Digital Consoles.
Veteran sound reinforcement FOH Kirk Willie, who has worked for numerous artists over the years including B.B. King, Ricochet, Ashley Tisdale, Montgomery Gentry, Lee Ann Womack, and for the past nineteen years, as FOH for John Michael Montgomery, experienced ShowMatch for the first time at the festival.
“I was completely under the gun at this show and barely had time to do a sound check,” stated Willie. “We got to the venue late and were going on at 5:30pm, and I actually first got control of the PA to tune the system at 4:50pm — not really much time! When I first fired it up, TPG had the system set flat. Regardless of whose PA I am using, I always have to notch out a few frequencies for John’s vocal since he has a deep voice and uses a Neumann mic — and I know how that mic is going to react to any PA. So I Smaart’d the system and within five minutes I was playing house music, and from the time we hit ‘go,’ I immediately noticed the clarity of the PA.”
“What is really interesting to me is if you make an adjustment on the console to the ShowMatch system, you immediately hear it,” Willie continued. “There are a lot of systems out there where I can turn a knob three-quarters of a turn and not hear any change. And a lot of that’s because it’s over processed. But when I made an adjustment on ShowMatch, I heard it — even small adjustments. Regarding John’s sound, I want it to be as close to the sound of the record, because that is what people are used to and expect. And with ShowMatch, I was very happy. We had about 5,000 people at the show, and there was plenty of coverage with lots of headroom. I was very impressed.”
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Photo caption: Kirk Willie, front-of-house engineer for John Michael Montgomery, pictured at the Country Freedom Festival Feb 23, 2020 at Lake Havasu State Park.