When banjoist Dale Reichert needed new monitors for his band, Art Stevenson and High Water, he turned to Kent Laabs, president of SoundWorks Systems, Inc., for guidance. A group of award-winning bluegrass musicians who are passionate about their unique sound, the band was seeking a wedge that would feed their music back to them as accurately as possible. What they got were four FBT StageMaxX 12Mas and a sound that, according to Reichert, helps them make better music.
“I’ve known Kent a long, long time,” said Reichert. “He’s the trusted sound source here in Wisconsin, in my opinion. Normally, when you go and talk to him about equipment, he’ll do what he always does; he’ll present a bunch of options and say, ‘you need to come in and listen to them – and then we’ll talk about your needs and your budget so you can make an informed decision.’ But when I asked him about monitors, he said, ‘You need to just try these FBTs.’ I’ve just never seen him do that.”
Trusting in Laabs’ word, Reichert says they borrowed four new StageMaxX 12Mas on approval. They took them to a gig, plugged them in, started playing and were immediately impressed.
“I never even listened to the monitors ahead of time,” the banjoist admitted. “I just took Kent’s word for it because I trust him that much. What we heard was unbelievable. It was such a vast improvement over what we had been using for years; it was like night and day. We played one of the best shows we’ve ever played using our own PA in ages, and it was all because we could hear ourselves make the music that we actually make instead of some close approximation. They were gorgeous. They were clean. They just returned exactly what we were playing into them. And because we could really hear the music we were making, we played better music. I knew right away those FBTs were not going back to Kent.”
High Water, a four-member band based in Babcock, Wisconsin, has won awards from the Minnesota Bluegrass and Old Time Music Association for favorite male and female bluegrass vocalist, and has received a nomination for favorite banjo player. Their audiences range in numbers from 50 – 3,000.
At the many bluegrass festivals the band plays, sound is often provided for them. Needless to say, Reichert was thrilled to use their own wedges during this year’s Bluegrass in the Pines, a popular bluegrass festival that High Water hosts annually in Rosholt, Wisconsin. The three-day festival featured eight acts and attracted about 1,000 attendees, daily.
Reichert said the monitors impressed performers and sound engineers alike at the festival.
“Usually, at Bluegrass in the Pines, we hire Audible Streams, LLC for sound and lights. This year, we asked Aaron Olson, Principal Sound Engineer and Owner, to swap out his regular monitors for our FBTs. By the end of the festival, Aaron was so impressed that he made arrangements to use the FBTs for his next big gig, the Labor Day weekend acoustic music party, Jackpine Jamboree.
We play over a different set of monitors just about every week as we go from festival to festival. We tried the FBTs and they’re simply the best we’ve heard. So when the High Water band provides our own sound, that’s what we want to hear. Funny thing is, after hearing the way they sound, other professionals are starting to feel the same way.”