Nine of the Best Live Sound Engineers in Dallas

Categories: Best Of

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flickr/ Scott Schram

Here's a few of the folks who bend over backwards, often for peanuts, to produce live local music. A disclaimer: This is not a complete list -- there are plenty of great sound engineers in Dallas, and these are just a few of our favorites. Note also that this doesn't include Denton or Fort Worth -- we suspect both are worthy of their own lists.

Sound engineers tend to be an under appreciated lot; juggling indelicate fans with delicate electronics that won't tolerate a spilled drink, plus musicians (with their varying and colorful personalities). There are a million and one reasons why live sound can sound wrong, and only some of the reasons can be attributed to the FOH person. Live music production, by nature, will always have it's shares of follies and challenges throughout the show...and while some of our knob-twiddlers can certainly be more socially pleasant than others, they're far from being the bad guy most of the time. They all have to deal with being the brunt end of anything that might go awry during the precarious process of presenting live music. Really, FOH techs are just people who (just like us) are there because they love live music. Point being, they deserve a cheers and a hooray.

So here's your chance to get to know a few of Dallas' live music sound-crafters, in no particular order, mind you.

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Jeff "JT" Dayton running sound at Dia De Los Toadies

Jeff Dayton

Age : 40

Venues : House Of Blues, Double Wide, Trees, & several others

Years in Town : 13ish

Years in the Biz: 19ish

Gig Pet Peeves: A band (or worse, their manager/girlfriend/boyfriend) telling me how to mix them...especially when they clearly don't have an understanding of live audio! Also, when "Okay, this is our last song" becomes a 23 minute long opus.

Favorite Piece of Live Gear : Gear that works!

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Braxton Henry

Braxton Henry

Age: I am 39 years old.

Venus: I am a touring engineer mostly. I have done fill in shows at
Trees over the past two years on my down time.

Years Mixing in DFW: I have been mixing in DFW for 20 plus years.

Years in the Biz: I have been in the business about 22 years.

Gig Pet Peeves: Pet peeves at this point are not even an issue anymore. If you must, let me do my job and you do yours.

Favorite Piece of Live Gear: Favorite piece of gear is my ears & my intact hearing, hands down!


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Chris Carmichael, also of the band The King Bucks, running sound at DaDa.

Chris Carmichael

Age: 37yrs old.

Venues: Chief Engineer Club Dada . Various contract jobs and festivals in the DFW area.

Years Mixing in Town: I guess I started mixing when I was around 23 or 24 years old.

Years in the Biz: I've been kickin' around in the music industry for about 20 years at this point.

Pet Peeves: Really more of a set of guidelines. A couple of big ones are: 1) Be on time and be organized. 2) Help me and be pleasant and I'll work my ass off to make your experience as easy and fun as possible. I know what it's like up there and for an hour or so, I'm part of your band. Try to remember that.



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28 comments
taybrown16
taybrown16

Is there anyway to get in contact with any of these guys for possible apprenticeships ?

Ron345
Ron345

Any list of sound guys that doesn't include Jimmy Smith near the top is incomplete. Yeah, I know, he works at Dan's Silverleaf in Denton, not Dallas. But, if you really want to know who does the best sound, ask the musicians. Hands down, they will all tell you that the best they've ever sounded is at Dan's because of Jimmy Smith, sound guy extraordinaire.

Ron Bulla

ansdough
ansdough

You missed Denver Graves!! I ask him to run sound at all of my band, Panic Volcanic's Dallas shows! 

Shetland
Shetland

Apparently someone needs to inform the author of this that James McWilliams spent years ripping off bands at Trees by screwing their sound up on off nights and running the audience off. He would then tell the bands he was sorry, that he loved them but it was the people, lie about how much came in at the door and pocket the rest.

jrwarren205
jrwarren205

Over the past 10 yrs, I have worked in several different venues throughout DFW.  And have had the pleasure of working with plenty of Sound engineers. Most of them were great, while a few were totally DEAF.  But of all the ones I've worked with, James Mcwilliams stands alone. His technique and attention to detail is second to none.

 I swear he could hear a mouse FART in a tornado.

simplenomad
simplenomad

James McWilliams is the man! He's currently running sound in Fort Worth at Tomcats West, making it one of my favorite places to play. While all the guys - especially the guys at Trees - are excellent, James is probably my favorite.

dcoftc
dcoftc

James and Chad are the BEST!!!!

Holly Zimmerman
Holly Zimmerman

No one from SHOWCO? Really? I guess you didn't dig very far.

jeff.waluch
jeff.waluch

Whilst not in the least taking anything away from the aforementioned sets of ears. You are totally dissing the touring guys who have made their homes in Dallas. The worlds greatest sound company which started in Dallas. And the Sound Company's that have picked up the mantle since SHOWCO was bought and dismantled. Whereas, bar guys make it rock--Touring Guys make it ROLL. But guys like Charles Belcher, Tim Cain and ML Procise need mention as the visionaries that they are.

wharristx
wharristx

You guys dont even mention Carlos Sanchez at Poor Davids Pub

jonfromtjs
jonfromtjs

as a live music lover, i learned a lot about the back end of the busineses from this piece.  thanks.

mistertroll
mistertroll

Carlos Sanchez from Poor David's Pub should be on this list. It is very rare for him not to get complimented from the stage by the artists.

Matt A Hale
Matt A Hale

Did they ask you if they could use your quality photography?

Justin Reed
Justin Reed

Tho I did take that photo of Brian Fiegelman

Matt A Hale
Matt A Hale

Justin Reed, they interviewed Brian feigleman, but not you?

Kelly Tomlinson
Kelly Tomlinson

That article went to 11. No really, there were 11 guys mentioned, not 9.

Matt Loria
Matt Loria

Fair argument. List more than 9 and go beyond Deep Ellum in that case!

Fritz Toch
Fritz Toch

As someone who mixed in Deep Ellum for 7 years, I'm grateful for the recognition that engineers exist at all, let alone get a nice article. List away, Observer!

Matt Loria
Matt Loria

Most well known does not = best.

Kevin McCrea
Kevin McCrea

Another in a continuing series of the Observer becoming no more than a local version of Buzzfeed ("The Top X Local . . . ")?

courtneyshane
courtneyshane

No doubt Holly.  What about Jerrell Evans ??  He's probably the biggest fish in DFW.  Worked with just about everyone, from Nirvana to Jeff Beck, and I believe he is out with Demi Lovato at the moment.  

courtneyshane
courtneyshane

No doubt Holly.  What about Jerrell Evans ??  He's probably the biggest fish in DFW.  Worked with just about everyone, from Nirvana to Jeff Beck, and I believe he is out with Demi Lovato at the moment.  


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