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Sweet Tree Productions Outfits the W. C. Handy Festival with RCF

For a week in July the state of Alabama pays tribute to the “Father of the Blues” with the W.C. Handy Music Festival celebration. Now in its 35th year, the 10-day event has grown into the largest tourism attraction held annually in northwest Alabama with numerous events held through the Muscle Shoals region.

            Sweet Tree Productions was called on to assist in production of many of the live performances held during the festival. It was a busy week for them as activities were held in many different locations meaning daily set-ups and tear-downs of stages and equipment.

            The Muscle Shoals-based company was able to easily outfit the needs of the festival as they have nearly 100 RCF cabinets in their inventory.

            On the first weekend, they placed a system at the Marriott Shoals Hotel with NXL24-A column arrays stacked on top of SUB8003-AS, along with a mix of ART710-A, ART715-A and HD32-A for monitors.

            On Monday, Sweet Tree had to set up two rigs in two different towns. First was in the middle of a street in downtown Florence using NXL24-A stacked on top of SUB8003-AS. “We had compliments how crisp and clear the sound was from three blocks over,” commented Sweet Tree owner Bryan Ogletree. “The NXL24’s surprise people with how much they can do. The second show was in Muscle Shoals. That show called for four HDL20-A and six subs per side, along with ART710-A for front fills.

            For a “Facebook Live” event on Tuesday, Sweet Tree pulled out the NXL24-A and SUB8003-AS combination with HD32-As for monitors. “The band told us after the show that the monitor mix was the best they had ever heard,” says Ogletree. “We credit the natural EQ of the HD32’s.”

            On Thursday, the event at the The Shoals Theater called for a pair of NXL24-A stacked on top of the SUB8003-AS. “We needed to cover the lower level and the balcony,” says Ogletree. “Stacking, and inverting the high frequency horn placement on the NXL24s, gave us smooth sound and did a good job of covering all available space.”

            Ogletree continues, “Friday was by far our busiest day, as we had a total of four events go off without a hitch.” First, the Marriott Shoals Hotel with the NXL24-A stacked on top of the SUB8003-AS. Second, an outdoor stage with four HDL20-A and six subs per side.

            “We love the HDL20-A line arrays,” says Ogletree. “They have reduced out set up and tear down time tremendously with the well thought out and easy to use rigging system. Our favorite part is running two 20-amp circuits for eight cabinets instead of 120 amps per side that we used to have to run. We are also pleased with how well they hold up in the elements. We have had heavy thunderstorms and winds, and a few days outside with 110-degree heat index and 90-percent humidity with no problems at all.”

On another event that day, “we set up one of our hydraulic stages at the local fairgrounds for a rodeo being held there that night,” says Ogletree. “We used a 4PRO-5031 on each side paired with two SUB8003-AS, along with some HD32-As for monitors.”

            On Saturday, Sweet Tree has to set up a small DJ event at a local vacation resort utilizing a pair of ART735-A with SUB708-AS. Ogletree says a funny story he got about that system when they went to pick it up was that they were, “impressed with the coverage of all the speakers and how much low-end sound there was without sounding dirty or overwhelming, and how the high frequency wasn’t too loud and piercing as it can be with some speaker combinations. Once our crew was there to start tearing down, we discovered that the DJ had either forgotten to turn the subwoofers back on or turned them off deliberately. So the sound he was hearing was just the 735’s and he told us he was blown away.”

Along with all these events, Sweet Tree also rented a lot of other equipment and staging to local DJs, other production companies in town, and churches for their own use during the festival including:

  • A local DJ using two 4PRO-5031s and two SUB708-AS
  • Another local DJ rented a digital mixing console along with ART710-As and HD-32s.
  • A local church rented the same combination of speakers as well as 6 ART 715-As for monitors

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