Last month, we had the opportunity to sponsor an event called “Band Together NOLA” for a virtual, live-streamed festival with more than 20 acts!
PJ Morton, Tank and the Bangas, Jon Cleary and more New Orleans’ musical heavy hitters played an online benefit festival to raise relief funds for the city’s musicians who have been out of work during the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, over $40,000 has been raised!
The Band Together virtual festival also featured Ivan Neville, Kermit Ruffins, Galactic’s Stanton Moore, Nigel Hall, Cupid, Dawn Richard, Water Seed, Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes, Sean Ardoin, Flow Tribe, Glen David Andrews, Hasizzle, Shane Theriot, Elizabeth Lyons, Fermin Ceballo, Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes, Kelly Love Jones, LeTrainiump, and Caren Green.
Our friend, Steve Himelfarb, was the engineer for six of the acts using a StudioLive 32 and Studio One Professional. We took some time to talk about his experience with the live stream and his career.
Our interview with Steve follows.
Tell us about Band Together NOLA. How did it come to be? What was your role?
New Orleans is known for its tourism, food, and of course live music. The pandemic has put much of that to a halt which has left musicians our of work. The Band Together Online Benefit Concert took place on April 25 and helped New Orleans musicians whose livelihoods have been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic. I am a part of multiple non-profits, and serving the community has always been something that I strive to do no matter where I live or what job I have. I was approached with the opportunity to participate with Lou Hill and Kermit Ruffins, it was a no-brainer. I was in!
Sounds like a huge undertaking. Did you know what you were getting into before you got started?
Yes and no. I had taken a break from the audio industry to focus on several other projects. Three years ago, my childhood friend, Tori Amos, had a show in New Orleans. From the stage, she says, “I’d like to thank the person responsible for me being here… Thank you Steve!” From that moment on, I knew I wanted to get back into recording and producing music and saying “Yes” to whatever opportunities came my way. Getting back into audio after a 20-year hiatus was like learning a whole new language that sounded familiar. Everything was the same but what changed was the technology. So, yes, it did seem like a huge undertaking but I was up and willing for the challenge.
We used a PreSonus StudioLive 32, multiple PX-1 mics and Studio One Professional, of course.
After watching the live stream, it looks like you recorded in multiple locations. How challenging was it recording in multiple locations?
We recorded six bands, all on the fly. Each band did a few songs, then we had a soundcheck for the next band all while doing our best to keep social distance guidelines. It was super hectic and everything was happening so fast. The onboard EQ and limiters on the 32 were AMAZING! We had no problem at all. This was very important and there was no room for a hiccup because everything was moving so fast. Once one band left, we had to wash down the stage and all the cables and mics to get ready for the next band to arrive. With the StudioLive 32, it was really a best-case scenario. Set up was easy, no distortion at all, the mixes sounded great.
What’s something you learned about live streaming?
With these harsh conditions and because everything is happening so fast, you have to be able to trust the gear you’re using. Be prepared, make sure the equipment is working, and use PreSonus.