“Check. Cheeeck. Check 1,2,3,4. Test, Test, Test. A little more bass in this monitor please.”
If you are like me you have attended hundreds of concerts and if you are anything like me you have always been fascinated by the technology of rock and roll. The Marshall stacks, the foot pedals, the gigantic drum sets, it all looks so cool from where you are sitting in the nose bleed section of the local enormodome. To me though it was always the PA system. Those humongous speaker stacks on the edge of the stage or hanging from the corners like giant gargoyles, to me the PA was the absolute coolest. Especially when I would go see a band like Van Halen or Deep Purple, those speaker stacks would always cause me to pause on entering the arena for a couple of seconds just to marvel at these sound skyscrapers. Even today I find the whole field of live concert production fascinating. Well Karl Kuenning lived what many of us have fantasized about. From the time he became a roadie in 1975 until the time he retired from the road in 1979, Kuenning worked with over 200 artists, traveled to 45 states and 17 countries and did everything from driving the truck to running the monitor mix to being production manager for Jean Luc Ponty. And he describes all of it (that he can remember) in the great book Roadie: A True Story. If you always wondered what the hell the guy stage left was doing in front of that giant mixing board, this book will explain it. If you always wondered why the opening act was always a little less loud then the headlining act, this book will explain why. If you always wondered why the roadies continuously chanted that gibberish into the mikes during sound check, this book will explain that too. Organized into nice compact chapters, each a vignette of life on the road, Roadie is one of those books that you will start reading one night in bed and before you know it you finished the book and you have just realized that you have exactly one hour left to sleep before you have to get up to work. And if the book doesn’t satisfy your quest for all things roadie related, Kuenning’s website Roadie.net will. A continuously updated site with loads of war stories, links, news, other books to read and even job postings, Roadie.net is a way you can either live vicariously through others are start to contemplate that rock and roll career change. An excellent read for anybody interested in the business of rock and roll, Roadie has enough of a personal touch that you may find yourself e-mailing Karl asking for a volume 2. Highly recommended.