Artist Home Creates Unique Shows with Mackie Reach
For more than ten years, Artist Home has provided a community-oriented platform for musical artists in the Pacific Northwest, creating one-of-a-kind festivals and other music-oriented shows, some of them impromptu. They even create mini-events within larger events. “We’ve become known as the anti-festival and the anti-big experience,” laughs Artist Home’s Kevin Sur, “but relatively unknown artists often get a huge amount of buzz when they appear at one of our events.” Many of these events are relatively small—say, 300 attendees or so—and the Mackie® Reach™ all-in-one professional PA system has proven to be a perfect enabler.
“Our festivals are different from the huge festivals,” observes Sur. “They’re more intimate, and the artists sort of take over. They have their onstage time but a lot of amazing things happen off stage, at night or in the woods, and we’ve been using the Reach system for those events-within-events, as well. These are mostly smaller acts, so the Reach’s six mixer channels are plenty. And the speakers have very wide coverage, 150 degrees, which is great for casual events where people assemble in an area and wait for something to happen.”
Some events, of course, are carefully planned, but they also are intentionally flexible and invite magical surprises. For example, once a month throughout the summer, Artist Home sponsors the Bonfire Series of outdoor shows, held after sunset at a Seattle-area beach. “In addition to the scheduled acts, we have unannounced artists and people just show up,” Sur explains. “People in the audience tip the bands so generously that artists get paid more than they would at a regular gig. We don’t even market the Bonfire Series; we just create a Web page, and word-of-mouth does the rest. And we don’t take a dime; the bands get everything. It’s great! The Reach is just right for this sort of event because it’s portable, it has plenty of power, and the sound is exceptional. And you can control the Reach wirelessly so whoever mixes the show can move around and make sure it’s audible everywhere.”
With their penchant for surprise events, the Artist Home team often doesn’t have much time to put together a sound system. Thanks to the Reach’s flexibility, that’s not an issue. “We did an outdoor music festival with about 3,000 people,” recalls Sur, “but we also did a secret midnight acoustic show for about 100 people at a barn a short walk from the festival grounds. With the Reach, it’s much easier to pull off these special shows. It’s simple to use, and the artists can hear themselves clearly with the Reach’s built-in EarShot™ monitoring system. All we needed was the Reach and microphones.”
Artist Home also promotes the four-day Doe Bay Fest on Orcas Island, which is so popular that the best way to get tickets for the summer festival is to visit the island the previous winter. “This year, the main stage shut down at 10 p.m.,” Sur relates. “So I set up some tiki torches and a couple of chairs underneath an apple tree next to the main stage, and by midnight about 400 people gathered quietly to see what would happen. Prominent Mexican-American singer Edna Vasquez and Y La Bamba singer Luz Mendoza performed a 90-minute set of ranchera music, and we used the Reach to support their vocals. It was exceptional! The Reach’s sound was so transparent that many people didn’t even realize it was there.”
Artist Home is determined to break the standard model of what a concert should be, and the Mackie Reach makes that a lot easier. “We show people that you don’t need permission to perform, you don’t need permission to ask people to perform, and shows can happen anywhere,” Sur summarizes. “If you find an amazing setting, it’s the perfect time to bring an artist in and do a show. With the Reach, we have a high-quality, complete sound system that we can quickly and easily load in, set up, use, and load out. The artists love it, and audiences enjoy the music and scenery without looking at stacks of equipment. Reach is perfect for a lot of what we do: unannounced, impromptu shows that blow people’s minds, where people fall in love with musicians they never knew about before.”