Sounding Off 

These sound engineers are the unsung heroes of the Charleston music scene

click to enlarge matt-zutell_royal-american_01.jpg

Jonathan Boncek

If there's one thing that can make or break any show, it's the competence of the sound engineer. But while poor sound is exceedingly noticeable, a good, flawless gig, which happens more often than not in this city, is quietly enjoyed while all the credit goes to the musical act. But the artists on stage aren't the only talent in the room. And while we want to give a shoutout to all the parts that make a show succeed — lighting pros, stage hands, promoters, the list goes on — for this issue we're zeroing in on a few of the guys who are dedicated to the Holy City sound. Hats off to you, fellas.

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Last December, the City Paper highlighted many of the engineers responsible for the sweet sounds you hear at some of the city's most-loved venues. — Graham Crolley


Brooks Wilson, Pour House
Brooks Wilson, Pour House Sounding Off

When Brooks Wilson began his path in sound engineering it was in 2002 at the old Pour House in West Ashley, and he didn't do it for the money. There were other motivations, like daily exposure to different, new music, being a behind-the-scenes creative force, and, well, free drinks. — Kelly Rae Smith


Chris Clanton, The Windjammer
Chris Clanton, The Windjammer Sounding Off

Chris Clanton, who's been running sound at the Windjammer for nearly four years, began a sound tech career out of necessity. — Vincent Harris


Cody Dixon and Teante Simmons, Awendaw Green
Cody Dixon and Teante Simmons, Awendaw Green Sounding Off

The sound engineers out at Awendaw Green are well-traveled. That is, within Charleston county at least. In a given week, you may find them running sound at Redux Contemporary Art Center, Kudu, Palmetto Brewery, the Barn Jam at Awendaw Green, or even a special event or two. That's a lot of miles on the company van. — Matt Dobie


Andrew Higdon, Charleston Music Hall
Andrew Higdon, Charleston Music Hall Sounding Off

If your musical palette isn't very well-rounded, helming soundboards for a living would be a pretty miserable task. Luckily for Charleston Music Hall's Andrew Hidgon, that's not a problem. "I love classical, I love bluegrass, I love reggae, I love metal, I love pop music," he says. "I love Katy Perry and Lady Gaga as much as I love Metallica. And I'm not just BS-ing anybody." — Kelly Rae Smith


Mike Rogers, Music Farm
Mike Rogers, Music Farm Sounding Off

Being a sound engineer can be a tough line of work. They're the first ones in at every show, the last ones out. And if everything goes smoothly, they won't be noticed. "It's almost like Game of Thrones: The Night's Watch," jokes Music Farm sound engineer Mike Rogers. Despite comparing live sound engineering to a group of fantasy warriors that have a short life span and don't get much admiration, Rogers loves every second of his job. — Heath Ellison


Todd Brown and Mike Grimm, Tin Roof
Todd Brown and Mike Grimm, Tin Roof Sounding Off

The Tin Roof has the look of a vintage punk club — the closest thing to a basement venue in a city devoid of basements. It's grungy, it's windowless, and all are welcome — that goes for the crowd and musicians alike. But while it may look like a punk club, the sounds emanating from the stage are as eclectic as any venue in town. — Matt Dobie


Wayne Slagle, The Commodore
Wayne Slagle, The Commodore Sounding Off

The Commodore might be relatively new, but their soundman is a lifer. Wayne Slagle has been doing this in some capacity for 25 of his 49 years, and his main philosophy on making a band sound great is simple: preparation. Listening to him explain how he works, you know you're hearing someone with a bit of a perfectionist streak. — Vincent Harris


Matt Zutell, The Royal American
Matt Zutell, The Royal American Sounding Off

It's election night 2016. The Royal American is at capacity and late-arriving music lovers form a line that snakes down the sidewalk. Inside, local rockers SUSTO light up the stage on a raised platform across the room, and resident sound engineer Matt Zutell does what he loves most. "It doesn't even really feel like a job to me," he says. "I'm getting paid to see a show and make the show sound like I want it to sound." — Matt Dobie


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