Jul 01, 2001

Music Venues

The Great American Music Hall Gets Even Greater with New K2

--San Francisco's oldest and grandest nightclub, The Great American Music Hall, upgraded its front-of-house system this past January with the addition of a 40-channel Soundcraft K2 desk.

The K2 replaces the club's 40-frame/36-loaded Soundcraft Venue console purchased back in 1989. Lee Brenkman, head of The Great American Music Hall's sound department, comments: "The K2 is actually our third Soundcraft house desk. Our first one was a 16-channel Series 1-S, which was built into a flight case. In fact, it was a show demo model that we bought directly from Phil Dudderidge, Soundcraft's co-founder, at the 1974 AES convention!"

The new console is located on a mix riser at the back of the main floor and routes its signals out to an assortment of amps driving a JBL Array Series loudspeaker system. Several cabinets are flown in a center cluster while the remaining enclosures are ground stacked on both sides of the 29' x 15' stage.

"We opted to install the K2 because it packs a lot of inputs and features into a small footprint," continues Brenkman. "In addition to its 40 mono inputs, there are four full-length stereo input channels and four stereo returns on faders, which means that I'm not eating up a bunch of my mono input strips with the effects returns, house music playback machines and other devices. The K2's eight subgroups and eight auxiliary sends also provide a lot of flexibility for the price.

"Another great thing about the K2 is that it is very user-friendly. Even an inexperienced band engineer can sit down behind this desk and quickly figure it out because the controls are all laid out in a very logical way. Plus, the fact that the board has a solid top plate makes me a lot less nervous when there are patrons in the balcony above me with drinks! The K2 is a solid board and the house staff loves it to death."

The nightclub today continues to also employ a 32-channel Soundcraft Delta - purchased with the Venue and still going strong - as its monitor console.

Despite the hall's intimate capacity of 600, the K2 has already been used in its first few months to mix a broad spectrum of high-profile artists, including Beausoleil, Southern Culture On The Skids, John Lee Hooker, Doc Watson, Mark Eitzel, Jeff Tweedy, The Tubes, The Samples, Squarepusher, The Mekons, J Mascis, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Jerry Jeff Walker, Rufus Wainwright and many others.

The 5,000-square-foot building was originally constructed in 1907 as Blanco's, a popular restaurant and bordello, following the devastating earthquake and fire of 1906. After serving as a variety of establishments throughout the twentieth century - from a nightclub to a Moose Lodge to a French restaurant - The Great American Music Hall opened under its current moniker in 1972 as a jazz performance venue. Over the ensuing three decades, the hall gradually expanded its musical focus to host an eclectic mix of musicians, from Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan and Count Basie to Van Morrison, the Grateful Dead and Bobby McFerrin. Today, the club's red and gold baroque interior continues to carry guests back to an earlier, more elegant era with its ornate balconies, soaring marble columns and elaborate ceiling frescoes.

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