Rowan has been doing sound since she was 14. She believes in loud enough (but not too loud) music and clearly hearing both rhythm and melody.
She's recently realized that lighting adds that extra something with most bands.
I first started doing sound for contra dances when I was 14, and was invited to help coil cables after a dance. I quickly transitioned to helping out with setup, shadowing the engineer at the time, and by the time I left for college, I had been doing almost every evening myself.
When I started at Hampshire, I lost no time getting started running sound for the Downtown Amherst contra dance, as well as for the Hampshire College dances (which I also helped to organize).
Around 19, I began to be hired for dance and song weekends and some sessions at Pinewoods Camp. These include July 4th Weekend at Pinewoods, Youth Traditional Song Weekend, and volunteering in the role of Crew Chief at the New England Folk Festival. I also designed and ran sound for Princeton High School's musicals for the two years that I was there.
I'm excellent with performers. I can't count how many musicians (and callers!) have told me that they always feel comfortable knowing that I'll be doing sound for them, but it's a lot, and you probably know some of them. I do an excellent job mixing their monitors, am attentive, and I'm friendly and calm the whole time.
I also have a good ear for the hall mix! I rarely have people asking me to change the volume of the system, certainly less frequently than they thank me for my good work. I value both rhythm instruments and melody, and do everything I can to bring both through, while keeping the volume at a comfortable level.
At the same time, I think that it's important for music to be loud enough; if it's not, the energy in the room dies, and nobody has as much fun. Musical presence is important in both contra and English country music.
No! While it is most of what I've had the opportunity to do, my skills are easily transferable to any other genre of music, and I have an adaptable ear for musical style.
Let's face it: white light is boring.
A lot of events hire a sound engineer — they get great sound, the band is happy, the guests are happy. Nobody thinks much about the lights (unless they're terrible CFLs) and then they go home. My experience with adding lights to dances has been that it adds a special bit of atmosphere, and makes the night that much more memorable.
By adding colored lighting to an event, as well, the band provides a little bit of extra interest. The dancers are aware of them in a way that draws some extra attention to the musicians and, thereby, their music. With increased attention to the music, of course, comes more musicality in movement — people getting places on time, moving with the beat, and all that good dancey stuff.
I started doing lights back when Phase X (Christopher Jacoby and Ross Harriss) were playing techno contra dances in the central New Jersey+ area. Since then I've run lights at the Flurry Festival, supervised their setup for Hampshire College dances, and brought them to the occasional normal dance.
I control lights using a specialized Max/MSP program developed by Christopher and myself, which allows me to match them to the mood and beat of the music. I don't like strobes for accessibility (although I do enjoy them, personally).
Rowan's approach to live sound is exactly what I'm always hoping for: smooth, efficient, attentive and supportive. She's a pleasure to work with and knows how to make acoustic music really rock!
[Rowan was] not only totally professional and produced an evening of high-quality sound, [she] also did some really special things like bringing the lights and preferred equipment - doing it all in an unmessable and easy-going manner.
Rowan's dedication to the job earned glowing reviews from musicians and dancers alike. As an event organizer, I have never seen the sound management go so smoothly and professionally.