The 9 best live sound engineers in the Twin Cities

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Erik Hess

Live sound engineers are the unsung heroes of this song-and-dance routine we call rock 'n' roll. They show up first, leave last, and sometimes don't even get paid as much as the bartenders they work with. Their work day consists of battling complex and fickle equipment, soothing volatile egos, and hours of attentive listening, all at volumes that would make a construction worker reach for a pair of earplugs. Not to mention, if things go wrong, they're often an easy scapegoat for critics and laypeople who wouldn't know an XLR cable from an RCA but still feel like they know "good sound" when they hear it.

So, in tribute to those hard-working men and women behind the boards, Gimme Noise has crafted this list. It's by no means a complete one, as there's a whole host of fantastic techs in the Twin Cities, but it's the least we can do. From the folks who set up two microphones and a chair, to the crack teams who manage hundreds of channels of audio at stadiums and festivals, this is for you. Thanks for all the great shows.

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Courtesy of Chris Frymire
Chris Frymire

Chris Frymire

Regular gig: The Cedar Cultural Center, with his company Modern Minstrel Mixing
Age: 52
Years in Town: 40
Years in the Biz: 34
Gig Pet Peeves: Broken, or bad-sounding instruments and/or equipment. If you bring it to the gig, make sure it works and know how to hook it up correctly, otherwise, just leave it at home. Folks who bring too big an amp to a small room, and cannot seem to get their "tone" without being the loudest player in the room. Incorrect Tech Riders. Out of control egos.
Favorite Piece of Live Gear: Analog Midas Consoles, Earthworks Mics.
Favorite Local Act: There are so many good local acts to choose from, but any show with Dean Magraw in the mix is on the top of my list.

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Courtesy of John Brown V
JB

John "JB" Robert Brown V

Regular gig: The Triple Rock Social Club
Age: 35
Years in Town: 32
Years in the Biz: 15
Gig Pet Peeves: It can vary, usually I find being laid back and not getting caught up on little things is the best way to run a show.
Favorite Piece of Live Gear: For everyday throw-and-go shows I like the TC Electronic M-One Dual Effects Processor.
Favorite Local Act: The one with that drummer...

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Tom Rimarcik
Ryan Olcott

Ryan Olcott

Regular gig: The Kitty Cat Klub
Age: 39
Years in Town: 19
Years in the Biz: Sound tech for 10 years
Gig Pet Peeves: Stinky people
Favorite Piece of Live Gear: Shure SM58 Mic
Favorite Local Act: Professionally neutral. I leave my taste at the door.


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45 comments
pennyannemeyer
pennyannemeyer

The writer is a noob college trendster who puts decent green talent on a best of list and leaves out Monty Lee Wilkes?!

astroluxcult
astroluxcult

I wonder what criteria was used to compile the "best" engineers?  And what qualifies the author of this article to deem them so.  I think there would be fewer engineers pissed off about this article if it were named something more like, "Meet 9 of your local sound engineers."   

lundkd
lundkd

I agree with earlier comment...all the trendy bars are represented with a sprinkle of a few others...way to go City Pages and the continued tunnel vision...ugh...no offense to the sound engineers though...

Nick Weber
Nick Weber

Too short of a list to do the hard working men and women in this industry the proper gratitude they deserve, but the effort is much appreciated. Thank you city pages Minneapolis for shining some light on these behind the scenes workers!

Chris Porto
Chris Porto

I personally know much more than 9 good ones. the problem is a lot of venues in town don't pay enough to get a solid tech.

Chris Porto
Chris Porto

And cue the list of sound guys who work all the trendy venues and trendy gigs in town.... I would believe this was a subjective list if it wasn't for the fact that It wasn't just techs at venues and events the city pages consistently promotes and talks about. No offense to the techs on the list though. The tunnel vision of the city pages' music coverage gets old sometimes. But props for giving techs some love though. I give you lots of credit for that. cool idea.

Troy Davison
Troy Davison

No Billy Batson or past people like Frazier etc

slicksnail
slicksnail

These guys are the unsung heroes of the music biz. They deserve a lot more press than they get. I thank you for this article.

PS. I'm not an FOH engineer, but my brother is and I know he works his ass off at it. He's been excluded from this list, but whatever. It's just nice to have people in this position recognized.

Eric C Flom
Eric C Flom

really, you should be on the list Zeek!

Andrew Crow
Andrew Crow

Yeah, Spud Groshong Justin Beneke Eric Alan Marsh Ryan Guanzon Nick Weber Ross Landis Scot Rueter Ben Melby Randy Hawkins and many many more. We are well versed. I too am stoked the recognition of the people behind the scene! Thanks City Pages Minneapolis !

Jon Rayl
Jon Rayl

And oh yeah... triple rock?? Not even once have I heard good sound there...

Jon Rayl
Jon Rayl

How the hell is Andrew Crow not on that list?

Justin Beneke
Justin Beneke

Andrew Crow Spud Groshong Doug Short the list goes on...

Mark Hamilton
Mark Hamilton

Are any of the listed venues outside of a 2-mile radius of downtown Minneapolis?

Ian Stenlund
Ian Stenlund

Glad to see Ryan Olcott on here. He just did sound for me last night, and it was perfect, as usual!

Joe Spannbauer
Joe Spannbauer

I'm thinking Sandy Marks, and Justin Beneke. There's a lot of us out there but would like to thank everyone for thinking of us

Nate Giller
Nate Giller

Some good names there for sure. Thanks for the recognition and you are welcome! :)

CinBlueland
CinBlueland topcommenter

Top nine guys who make the band sound decent and still aren't getting laid after the show. If they're lucky they can share the fat waitress with the drummer.

Woody McBride
Woody McBride

Ummm? - this list is missing A LOT of great twin cities engineers. You get an A for effort here acknowledging these under recognized people but this is way incomplete. Take a look at First Avenue, SAI and many more.

jfladager
jfladager

Mike Ronkanin from The Cabooze is about as professional as you can get.  Never tells the musician "why it won't work".  Man, that bugs.  Never tries to educate the musicians with technical audio engineering yabber.  Gives the band what they want and doesn't talk too much.  Anyone who is a musician knows that Sound Engineers and musicians are like from different solar systems.  


Rick Meyer
Rick Meyer

This is pretty subjective... This list could be a top 15 at least. John Robinson, Jay Perlman, etc.

DjEn Fuego
DjEn Fuego

Thank you for this article. The talented guys behind the board don't get nearly enough recognition for their work. On that note, a shout out to Ethan Bouchard who does some great work around the midwest with my band PopROCKS! for the last couple years and is now working with some of the best local and national acts at the Varsity Theater.

Ganzobean HornedHeart
Ganzobean HornedHeart

Too bad there's only 9 good ones and the rest are people who have no clue what they're doing yet the venue hired them. :)

pennyannemeyer
pennyannemeyer

One of the reasons a lot of venues in town don't pay to get a solid tech is because a lot of the bands are not as good as they think they are. A good solid tech costs a bit more...not all bands are worth spending the money on esp if they're not bringing a crowd that's spending. A lot of young artists want to be famous rock stars and expect they'll be catered to. Gotta earn it. The Reason this article fails to mention some of the best sound techs is found in the fact most local artists arent good enough to have met them. The writer who is probably in a mediocre band himself just high fived all the hip trendy sound guys he wanted to brown nose while leaving out those whose talents are far superior to him and his friends bands level of skills.

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