Jewel Plays It Straight
Solid Performance. Solid Sound Fill Jones Beach Theatre
by Linda Romanello
Wantagh, NY – It was as simple as a girl and her guitar, standing in the center of a stage, and performing some songs for a few people. OK, maybe there was a bit more to it than that. The girl was actually Jewel, the stage was Jones Beach Theatre in Wantagh, NY, the songs included a number of her hits and "a few people" were, in truth, thousands of very enthusiastic fans. The concert was yet another stop on her lengthy tour supporting her album, Spirit, a trek which began in February in Australia, and arrived on U.S. shores in June.

While she proved with a solo set that she was more than capable of delivering a stunning show on her own, Jewel brought her band along to produce an even bigger, fuller sound via a system provided by Sound Art (Winnipeg, Canada). According to Rob Howick, FOH engineer and production manager, "There really aren’t any special effects or unique setups for one of her shows. She’s pretty straightforward. Her band are all great musicians, and she was clearly born to entertain. She has absolutely no fear at all of getting up there by herself and entertaining for hours on end. That just makes our job that much easier."

After spending a number of years behind the boards, Howick knows what he’s talking about. His earliest years as a live-performance engineer were spent back in high school in southwestern Ontario, near London, Canada. Since then, he has mixed a number of Canadian acts, including the Cowboy Junkies, Blue Rodeo and Tom Cochran. "I took a few hiatuses in my early 20s," Howick confided, "but once it gets into your blood, it’s hard to get it out."

Howick has been mixing Jewel since early 1997 when she first started touring with a band, taking his own direction with her sound. He explained, "She’s never come forward and said anything about ‘this is the way I want to sound.’ Obviously, it’s going to be her out in front of the mix, and then her band. That’s the way I’ve always mixed her. And, there’s never been any complaints. She just trusts me out here on my own."

Along for the North American leg of the tour was a Midas Heritage 3000 48x24x3 concert mixing console. "It’s their newest board on the market," Howick reported, "and it’s pretty straightforward-a good product for sure and very reliable." Noting that the Heritage seemed quieter than the XL-4 he had been using before, he added, "I just always come back to this brand; it produces the truest, most natural sound; less preamps, less EQing for any console I’ve used for live procedures."

To capture the vocals and drums, Howick said he used "lots of Shure microphones, with the exception of the overhead, for which we use the AKG 414s. We also use a few Audio-Technica AT4050s for the guitar amps and a lot of Klark Teknik direct boxes for the keyboards and bass guitars. For the PA, we’ve been using the Electro-Voice X-Array, and it’s really been working out great."

"(Jewel) has no fear of getting up there by herself and entertaining. That makes our job much easier."

Rob Howick,

FOH engineer, Jewel

Stage volume is an issue for any tour, and Jewel’s was no different. While many productions will elect to make use of personal monitor systems, in this case, a choice was made to carefully create the onstage area, a primary example being the use of the Plexiglas enclosure for the drums. "This is to try and alleviate as much sound as possible from leaking on stage and to Jewel’s microphone and ears," Howick noted. "It’s really more of a studio type of trick than anything else. We’ve also eliminated guitar amps on stage to try to reduce the level of sound that’s up there with her." Nonetheless, wedges still graced the stage in the form of EV X-Array monitors.

At the FOH positions, a fair amount of equipment was on hand, including the usual suspects from TC Electronic, Lexicon, Roland, Summit and Eventide. Howick casually pointed out, "There’s nothing spectacular out here. I don’t need a lot of effects. It’s really more a matter of just riding with the band through the show. When they get excited, I have to hold them back a bit. And, when they’re a little bit hung over, I have to make them sound a little bigger – but that’s all."

Sound Art
Winnipeg, Canada

FOH Console:
Midas Heritage 3000 48x24x3

Monitor Console:
Midas XL250-52

House Speakers:
(16) Electro-Voice X-Array Xf, (12) Xn, (16) Xb, (4)Xcn (4) Xcb, (8) Xi, (12) EV MTL-2B, (4) EV DTS99

Monitor Speakers:
(16) Electro-Voice X-Array Xw, (4) Xi, (1) DeltaMax DML-2181, (4) MTL-2B

House Amplifiers:
QSC PowerLight 1.8, 4.0

Monitor Amplifiers:
QSC PowerLight CX902, 1.8

FOH Equipment:
XTA DP226; Klark Teknik DN3600, DN300, DN3698, DN3603, DN6000, WS01,
Drawmer DI251; BSS TCS-804, DPR404, DPR901-II; Station CleaCom; QSC 1080;
Denon 610F; Tascam DA-88, DA-38, DA-30MK11; JBL Smaart; Eventide H3000;
TC Electronic M2000; Lexicon PCM90, 480L; Roland SDE3000; Aphex 622; Summit

Monitors Equipment:
Klark Teknik DN3600; Yamaha SPX990; Behringer Composer Pro; Intelligate

Shure SM58, SM91, SM81; EV468B; Sennheiser 421; AKG C414; Audio-Technica
AT4050; Klark Teknik LBB100

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