SE Systems has wrapped up work on the 2018 MerleFest Music Festival. For the past 31 years we have provided all the audio, lighting, video and staging for the festival. This year’s festival had a few new and improved areas that really had an impact.
Video was one area that an instant glance would be followed by a double take. We upgraded our complete line of Video screens used on the Watson Main Stage. This was the debut of our new Absen 3.9mm video walls. We hung three screens, two on each side of the stage and one behind front-of-house mix station. Each screen measured 16.40’ x 9.25’ with a pixel pitch of 3.9mm. This has a minimum viewing distance of a little over 12 feet. It was crazy to be able to watch content from so close, the detail was incredible. It was like watching your big screen TV and not a concert IMAG. Audience members were glued to the screens, they made every seat, the best seat in the house. The screen on back of the FOH mix station gave the back seating area an up close view of the programing. To see the detail of Jerry Douglas or Tommy Emmanuel’s blazing licks would inspire any musician. MerleFest was a very successful launch of our new video panels that performed at the highest level, even in the rain we experienced on Thursday. In addition to the screens we used a total of 7 different cameras, controlled and switched by our team in our custom video trailer.
Another new partner at MerleFest was DiGiCo Consoles. They provided some brand new digital desks to be used throughout the Festival. We have been a DiGiCo user for years and this year they stepped up and wanted to be the console provider at the Festival. For ten out of the eleven stages we provided production, DiGiCo consoles were on the job. In addition to our own SD10-36’s, SD10-24’s, SD9’s and SD12, Digico sent us an SD5 for the Watson Main stage along with SD12’s and SD21’s for the other stages. These are top-of-the-line digital desks that appear on many riders we see, what a treat to have DiGiCo as a MerleFest partner.
For the second year DPA Microphones brought in an assortment of their high-end microphones to be used on the Watson Stage. The brand new d:vote CORE 4099 was available to be used on Acoustic Guitars, Banjo’s, Mandolins, Brass and stand up Basses. These mics deliver a high SPL with a great rejection to feedback. In addition to the instrument mics, a Drum package was also used to mic up the backline drum kit. The DPA mic technology is top notch in the audio world. Their ability to handle very loud SPL’s and deliver a natural sound makes sound engineers life much easier. They were a hit on the Watson stage.
A final word and observation about MerleFest 2018. This year my band was given a set to play on the Dance stage. First, it is an honor to be asked to be a part of this huge festival where over 70,000 people visit over 4 days. The top-notch players and past alumni is a history of American music. From Doc and Merle’s legacy to the torch carriers of Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas and the many others who have graced the MerleFest stages over the 31 years of this Festival. I got to really feel and be a part of the MerleFest experience. This is hard to describe until you experience the feeling of playing on the MerleFest stage. The second treat was having SE Systems running the Sound. Our guys are some of the best audio engineers around and when you give them tools like Digico consoles and JBL Vertec Line Array speakers, the magic happens. We had a great set with many complements on the sound. It felt really good, a highlight of my musical career.
MerleFest 2018 is in the books with plenty of music and memories for all levels of musicians and fans. Looking forward to the 32nd MerleFest 2019.
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