6 of the Best Live Sound Engineers in Phoenix

Categories: Lists

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The spring of 1989 was a period of birth for me: It was the first time I ever played a gig at a club with a PA of its own. The place was Time Out of Mind in South Phoenix. Not the most reputable club, as some of you may recall, but a place that I got my first experience working with a gigging musician's best friend or worst enemy: The Sound Man.

If I remember correctly, the sound guy's name was Gary. I was very intimidated by him, but I tried to play it cool and act like I knew what I was doing when he asked me to check the mics. There were monitors on stage, and when he asked me if I could hear everything I needed to hear, I said, "Sure," I think, and we played, and that was that.

I have no recollection of how it sounded on stage -- other than loud -- and afterward, I gave Gary some of our beer, and he seemed happy. Lesson learned, I suppose, in that tipping the sound person, even if it is just Bud in a can, is still better than pissing them off. We talked to some of the best sound guys in town to learn about their favorite shows, pet peeves, and more.

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Michelle Lee

Twenty-four years later, I now know just how important a good sound guy or gal is. We're pretty fortunate here in Phoenix to have some really great engineers who can make your band, regardless of style or equipment, sound pretty damn good. If you treat them well and remember that they're working to make the experience a good one for the crowd that's paying their nightly wage, they will make you sound even better; treat them like shit, and, well, that is exactly how you will sound.

Phoenix boasts some of the best in the country who have gone on to bigger and better things -- guys like Jim Coleman, who works with the Red Hot Chili Peppers now, and Jeff Hauck, who works with Soulfly, are local legends. Steve McDonald ruled the board at Hollywood Alley for years and occasionally had to convince people he was not Sammy Hagar. Steve made many bands sound much better than they probably were over the years, but he took his talent to the beach in L.A. and hasn't looked back.

A couple others who I have to mention are expatriate Arizona sound guys Grasher Johnson and Jamal Ruhe, who are both twice as talented as they are cool. And I would be remiss if I did not include the late, great Nino Notaro, who twisted many a knob in Phoenix during his life, making local and national metal bands sound great. As I talked with musicians from all around the Valley about their favorite sound engineers, Nino's name came up again and again.

As much as all of those guys deserve attention, I reached out to six of the best engineers the Valley has to offer. These dudes are working in some of the coolest venues in town and were nice enough to respond to a short survey from Up on the Sun. Here are their responses, in no particular order:


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33 comments
Ed Carr
Ed Carr

Many times I am interested in reading your links, but the crazy click-bait format you use is a major turn-off...please consider joining the 21st Century web...

Kenneth Kareta
Kenneth Kareta

I'm not being modest, I'm supporting MY troops on my battleground! Giving equal measure where it's due!

John Blevins
John Blevins

I just felt you to deserve recognition and I agree that they too are more than qualified. I personally know how hard you work and how good the results are. Mr. Modest :-)

Kenneth Kareta
Kenneth Kareta

John, thanks for the shout out in this article. But all local soundguys are unsung heroes before showtime. We all work our tails off to keep a show on schedule, or on budget, or going, when something messes up. I know a good portion of the sound ppl they mention here. I've heard their work, and worked alongside many of them, and have enjoyed the results. Let them have their day in the sun, too, they work as hard as I do!

John Blevins
John Blevins

Not saying these 6 are not good, I just think that he was left out.

John Blevins
John Blevins

I disagree,there is a Pro sound man who does the shows The Sail Inn in Tempe Kenneth Kareta who I think is an unsung hero when it comes to sounds. Check him out.He has been doing it for many years...

Eric Zellmer
Eric Zellmer

Even though I strongly disagree with most music reviews written by the New Times, it's nice that they've recognized some good engineers. I gotta give it up to Joseph Asselin for recording our album!

Brian Trujillo
Brian Trujillo

Well Atleast my sound board got chosen for the cover photo

David Moroney
David Moroney

Daniel Reed is the man.. the gal that works the Yucca most nights is really great as well considering what she has to work with.. and who could possibly forget Joseph Asselin

freakymonalisa
freakymonalisa

Nate Henderson, Jason Mooberry, Aron Orosz, Brian Trujillo, mike, Matt, ray, Kyle, Ryan, Jeremy,

Brian Trujillo
Brian Trujillo

Joes grotto won phx best rock bars one of the years I was house sound guy, the award Joe always wanted ;)

Brian Trujillo
Brian Trujillo

That's my hand writing in the cover photo!!!!! Bastardized

Kenneth Kareta
Kenneth Kareta

I'm really flattered I've been tagged in this post! Guys! Thanks a lot! And I actually don't disagree with anyone they picked, or mentioned. The late great Nino who they mentioned, here, is an old tour bud, His loss made AZ sound different. Jim was my first Employer here, where I worked alongside Rudy on occasion. And who couldn't enjoy working w/ Brian?

Nicole Parasida
Nicole Parasida

Mic from the rogue is on tour with empire of the sun, it's kind of a big deal. Also Andy at crescent acts like a tool, and the sound is extremely inconsistent.

Kenneth Kareta
Kenneth Kareta

DJ Adidas has it backward a Tech can fix a train, an An engineer can only drive it!

Darin Spyderdog
Darin Spyderdog

theres a few missing, but overall this is a pretty good list!

YahooSerious
YahooSerious

You gonna pen more stuff for the NT Tom?

loudmouth_70
loudmouth_70

List is incomplete without Brian Buster.  Truly one of the finest.  Black Mountain Sound.  Hire this man.


Todd Middleman
Todd Middleman

i have some sound man peeves i would like to discuss.

Mandy Sabo
Mandy Sabo

I wonder why you arent in here B ONE Z Brian Trujillo

David Marquez
David Marquez

Too many left off the list to make it anything but an account of one person's show-going. Three work at Joe's Grotto. That is a narrow view of the top talent the valley has to offer. That being said, IMHO Stubblefield makes the grade, and McDonald showed me the ropes back in the day.

DjAdidas Nick Nuvamsa
DjAdidas Nick Nuvamsa

A sound Engineer is some one who makes these boards lol a sound tech is some one who runs them...fyi

Matthew Reveles
Matthew Reveles

Nice list. Cool to see Nickolas Marple in the mix. Surprising not to see Ken Kareta from Sail Inn, or Jason or Jeremy from Rhythm Room, or maybe Dylan Thomas Pals at Yucca. Also, what ever happened to Mike Toth? Years ago, that dude was one of the best in the biz

rudeontour
rudeontour

@DjAdidas Nick Nuvamsa 

uhm no, you got that backwards..

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