Why having a pro on stage and on sound makes a real difference to your concert experience
A bright red Parker Fly guitar rests comfortably on its wooden stand, like a Siren luring Chelsea Berry to the rocky coast we all know is behind the stage.
Chelsea enters alone and smiles at the audience, gracefully accepting the ovation she receives before singing a note. Then she begins … a capella. No mic, no amp, no guitar, nothing but her gorgeous, powerful, soaring voice carried with perfect clarity to the Shalin Liu’s very last row by the concert hall’s perfect acoustics.
Chelsea’s loving, dramatic, musically brilliant performance of Dave Sudbury’s King of Rome brings the story to life, sending chills up my spine. If the concert had ended right then, I would have felt fulfilled. Then I wonder, when’s she gonna play that red guitar?
Migrating to piano, acoustic guitar and finally, the red Parker Fly, Chelsea Berry sings and plays her hits, accompanied by her young, enthusiastic, well-rehearsed band with grace, humor and an enchanting professionalism that endears her to her audience. This is a show. It has a beginning, middle and end, like a good story — an arc, you might say.
All through this show, the sound remains nearly perfect — even when the band barrels in, full force on her rocker Lonely being Lonely, which she takes just a tad slower than she did at North Shore Music Theatre last summer, giving it even more ironic power and guts.
After a wonderful encore of crowd-pleasing favorites (Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah and her own You Me And Mary) Chelsea invites the entire audience upstairs for a party and gathers the band for a Broadway style bow to a standing ovation.
Lots of our friends are at the after-party, including T Max, who spies sound legend, Bill Winn, having seen him only in a tiny picture from this book review T Max published in the February issue of his Noise Magazine. T Max introduces himself to Bill and then introduces me, at which point I’m thinking, what’s Bill Winn doing here? This guy wrote the book, literally, on live concert sound (you can get it here) and has engineered for Whitney Houston, Joni Mitchell and Herbie Hancock, just to name a few.
Then Chelsea comes over and gives Bill a big hug, “Thank you, Bill. The sound was great!”
We tend to bat the word “pro” around carelessly most of the time, but I don’t use it lightly, here, when I say that choosing Bill Winn as her sound guy was one of a string of highly professional musical and business choices Chelsea Berry has made of late, proving that she has earned the position of Headliner!