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One Person CAN Make a Difference

George Petersen • December 2019Editor's Note • December 14, 2019

It’s that most wonderful time of the year, and the NAMM Show swings around in about a month. Especially with NAMM’s successful expansion into the audio production technology segment over the last couple years, the show is really something I can look forward to. And with “our” own hall devoted to pro technologies, at least I can finally have a meaningful conversation with someone or check out a product demo without having to endure somebody two rows over checking out a guitar amp at 115 dB by playing a really bad rendition of “Smoke on the Water.” Thank God (or at least the new exhibit hall) for small miracles…

‡‡         A Parnelli Highlight

For me, a highlight of NAMM is the FOH/PLSN Parnelli Awards, which give a nod to the best and brightest in our industry. This year, the Parnelli Audio Innovator honor will go to monitor engineer extraordinaire Karrie Keyes (Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers and others) and co-founder of SoundGirls (soundgirls.org), a nonprofit dedicated to the empowerment of the next generation of women in audio. Here is someone who began as a classical musician (flute, clarinet), then as a punk music fan, developed an interest in technical audio at a time (late 1980s) when female involvement in live sound production was a rarity — to say the least.

It wasn’t easy, but through perseverance, hard work and determination, Keyes forged a career in one of the most difficult of concert sound jobs — one not only requiring a high degree of technical skill, but the also one where diplomacy is essential.

Today, having reached the “top” — she’s been working with Pearl Jam since 1991 — it would be easy for her to kick back, but since 2013, she has been working with SoundGirls as a means of helping others. The results have been exemplary, connecting with and encouraging thousands of young women and girls over the years.

Clearly — and most assuredly in the case of Karrie Keyes — one person can make a difference. And as the recipient of the 2020 Parnelli Audio Innovator Award, Keyes is not only deserving, but an inspiration to us all. Congrats, and check out her story on page 20.

‡‡         Spreading the Good Vibes

I wouldn’t suggest that every one of us start a non-profit program — although it did happen with 2012 Parnelli Lifetime Achievement honoree Charlie Hernandez for his work creating the Just a Bunch of Roadies organization (justabunchofroadies.org), which has helped provide humanitarian aid on a global scale. However, each of us can — and should — be involved with assisting others on a daily basis.

Sometimes, little things can make a difference. If a crew member or church volunteer shows interest, a bit of extra time spent aiding that person can make a meaningful change — or at least help them advance their skills to a higher level. There’s a huge difference between knowing what button or fader to push and understanding the reasoning (signal flow, dynamics, etc.) behind that action. And by imparting some small bits of knowledge, the recipients will likely become more involved from their greater sense of understanding.

I take this a step further, applying this philosophy to everything I do and the rewards (although rarely financial) can be great, nonetheless. However, in most cases, not only can you glean some “positive vibes” from helping someone out, but as a plus, that person will become just a little more valuable to the production as a whole. Everybody wins!

‡‡         Wrapping Up 2019

I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of all of us at FRONT of HOUSE to wish each of you joy, happiness and safe travels during this holiday season. And for anyone considering attending the NAMM Show, please note that for a limited time, audio pros can register at namm.org/foh, and use the promo code FOH20NAMM for a discounted badge rate. See you there!

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