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#390466 - 07/24/05 09:46 AM the gig from hell: Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
where02190 Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 5402
Loc: Weymouth, Ma. USA
One of my regular summer gigs is a city series of concerts in a very nice park. Some oldies, some rock, some folk, some local orchestras, etc. All good stuff, all pretty easy. Then came Martha Reeves. A pickup band that I know well, all good players. No problems there. She comes in for rehearsal with them, and she is miles, I mean miles from the mic. OK, maybe she just doesn't want to give it away, after all we are outdoors in a public park. I I kill the FOH, (hey it's rehearsal) and go onstage. My buddy dave doing monitors says she keeps asking for more and more of herself in the wedges, so I ask her "manager" I use the term quite lightly) if shes holding back or what. He says "once the Vandellas get here she'll get up on it and give you so much you'll be begging her to back off. So, about half way through rehearsal, they show up. No change, except now she wants even more of herself in the wedges.

After rehearsal I was going to approach her, but some local ploiticians beat me to it, so i ask one of the Vandellas, who tell me not to worry, she'll be all that and more for showtime.

Her backup band plays about a 40 minute set prior to her, I got a nice mix, all is well. A 20 minute intermission for the city to sell ice cream and pizza, and it's showtime. I back it down a bit, say quick prayer, and off we go. She never gets any closer than 2 feet to the wireless SM58 she's singing through. I'm screwed...so I kill everything except the keys (direct) and a hint of kick drum, and proceed to fight physics to get her vocal audible. everything above 3k, gone, 400hz, gone, the eq curve was embarrassing. Now, while not the best of rigs, it's a decent JBL rig with more than enough to cover the venue and do 90-95 with tons of headroom at the mix, which is pretty way back on a sloping hill. Well, except when the audience clapped, it never broke 80, and I stopped counting at 50 the number of people who were asking (some politely most not) to turn it up.

What a disaster. Fortunately all the city folks understood the problem, as I voiced my concern early on in the day during rehearsal. It's sad that a woman of her stature in the music community, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, doesn't have some mic technique. I mesan seriously, she never got closer than 2 feet to the mic, and when she played tamborine (which was alot, but fortunately never while singing) I had to drop the mix massively or everyone got killed with tambo. I got plenty fo band and backup singers through her mic, except for the afore mentioined touch of keys and kick that I added.

Oh well, can't win em all.....thanks for letting me rant, and let this be a warning to anyone with upcoming shows with her. While there is potential for the show to be superb, her mix technique destroys any potential of a decent mix.
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#390467 - 07/24/05 10:14 AM Re: the gig from hell: Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
lrossmusic Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 05/29/00
Posts: 907
Loc: Washington DC , UNITED STATES
That's interesting, she came through DC last weekend and I got a call to be in a local backing band. Something told me to turn that one down and I did.

Somehow I could just picture these long drawn out reheasals with her and some of the other acts going through some lame primadona(sp) BS with the poor band and PA people expected to passively endure it all. From my experiece, more often than not, that's the way it ususally turns out with many of these oldie but goodie acts.

I've seen times where some of these assh%&# would even publicly embarrass the band or sound techs during the show when they were clearly to blame.

On top of all that the bread was skippy to say the least.

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#390468 - 07/24/05 02:05 PM Re: the gig from hell: Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
LiveMusic Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 02/23/01
Posts: 4737
Loc: Louisiana
That is very weird. She's only been singing 40 years or so. I don't get it.
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#390469 - 07/24/05 02:42 PM Re: the gig from hell: Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
ITGITC? Offline
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Registered: 12/18/02
Posts: 17399
Interesting... :p
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#390470 - 07/24/05 02:53 PM Re: the gig from hell: Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
BP3 Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 07/31/00
Posts: 6524
gas, it seems that your story is about Aretha.

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#390471 - 07/24/05 02:53 PM Re: the gig from hell: Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
theblue1 Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 4538
Loc: Long Beach, CA
I saw Martha and the Vandellas opening up for Bob Marley and the Wailers at the Roxy in LA back in '76 and, while I wasn't expecting much of anything (having pretty much avoided the Motown thing -- as well as rock in general -- while it was going on), she was killer. A hell of a performer and a fine singer. Mic technique seemed no problem that night. But club gigs are, of course, nowhere near the challenge of outdoor gigs.

Too bad you had such a tough ride...

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#390472 - 07/24/05 03:03 PM Re: the gig from hell: Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
ITGITC? Offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by TinderArts:
gas, it seems that your story is about Aretha.
oooops, SENIOR MOMENT. I'll delete it to save myself further embarrassment. \:o

thanks!

Tom
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#390473 - 07/24/05 05:48 PM Re: the gig from hell: Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
Jotown Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 07/04/02
Posts: 4413
Loc: The Galactic Center (26 Sagit...
The reason that she keeps the mic 2 feet from her mouth is that her voice is shot. She was never a great singer, but her chops are long gone. She sounds nothing like the girl who sang "Dancin' in the Streets".

I have worked with her a couple of times and each was a disaster.
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#390474 - 07/24/05 09:32 PM Re: the gig from hell: Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
where02190 Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 5402
Loc: Weymouth, Ma. USA
Absolutely no, her voice is not shot, in fact she sounded great, and had she simply gotten on mic, the show would have been one of the best I did all summer.
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#390475 - 07/24/05 10:32 PM Re: the gig from hell: Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
Jotown Offline
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Registered: 07/04/02
Posts: 4413
Loc: The Galactic Center (26 Sagit...
"Absolutely no, her voice is not shot,"

Then maybe your ears are. It is common knowledge in these parts that Martha Reeves sounds nothing like the chic on the record and hasn't for a long time.

In fact, her brother Benny Reeves sounds more like she used to than she does.
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#390476 - 07/24/05 11:17 PM Re: the gig from hell: Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
Tedster Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 09/21/00
Posts: 5935
No real point in a debate...as far as I can tell.

I think the benefit of the doubt ought to be given to all parties. If I may hazard a guess, with respect to both Where and Jotown, perhaps she felt like her voice was shot (possibly even due to a temporary condition...vocal strain, a cold, allergies or whatnot)...whether or not it actually is...and in her insecurity backed too far away from the mic. She should have cancelled the show...but it's all water under the bridge now...
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#390477 - 07/25/05 02:39 AM Re: the gig from hell: Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
where02190 Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 5402
Loc: Weymouth, Ma. USA
Well, my ears are definitely not shot, as anyone who knows my work will tell you. (Jotown, you might want to check my career profile from the website link....my experience should speak for itself.)

While she certainly doesn't sounds like she did 40 years ago, WHO DOES? She still has a powerful voice and incredible pitch, she just has very poor mic technique. It comes I think from back in her hayday, when you COULDN"T get on those old mics, as they couldn't handle a powerful voice, and would distort.

Whatever the reason, it's sad, as the show would have been killer had she simply gotten on the mic so she could be heard.
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#390478 - 07/25/05 03:12 AM Re: the gig from hell: Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
Jotown Offline
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Registered: 07/04/02
Posts: 4413
Loc: The Galactic Center (26 Sagit...
Quote:
Originally posted by where02190:
Whatever the reason, it's sad, as the show would have been killer had she simply gotten on the mic so she could be heard.
Good enough where.

See you on the other side.
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