Audix Vocal Condenser Mics at the St. Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival
It Takes Derek Lewis and BET Network to Build a Village!
In 1992 the small Caribbean island of St. Lucia hosted a modest jazz festival to build tourism awareness. Twenty-two years later, the St. Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival has grown to become one of the world's premier jazz festivals, attracting talent from around the globe and over 30,000 visitors each May. The festival spans twelve days and includes clubs, parks and civic locations all over the entire island. Headliner events take place at the historic Pigeon Island National Landmark, a small islet with the ruins of 18th century British forts.
We caught up with BET's Derek Lewis at Pigeon Island to find out what it takes to mount a festival in the far reaches of the Caribbean. Derek is the VP of Production for Centric TV, the branch of BET Network that produces live TV programs and performances. Derek has been producing the St. Lucia festival from the very beginning.
"My job is to keep things rolling," Derek explains. "For this year's festival, I'm shipping seven 40-foot containers from Trinidad and more from the US mainland, plus air freight for time-sensitive gear. We're talking everything from an all-weather half-dome structure for the main venue to sound, lights, video and, of course, generators to power it all. I have one container just for the backline including a grand piano, amps, keyboards, drum kits, and percussion rigs! I literally need to build a city in an empty park. It's a fully functional community right down to the restrooms. This even includes law enforcement, medical services, and evacuation plans. I hire international and local crews to get it all done. It all has to work!"
So what is this guy doing messing around with microphones? "My first love is sound," says Derek. "I started out as a roadie and engineer doing sound for a bunch of R&B, gospel, and jazz groups." In fact, he won a Grammy for engineering on The Experience, a live album by Yolanda Adams.
When it is time to stage the St. Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival, Derek says, "I don't travel without my Audix DP Elite 8 Mic kit and VX10s. I think these really are the best sounding microphones. I run them flat without EQ or perhaps roll off some lows if necessary."
"The i5 is a great mic for many applications. I use it on everything from guitar amps to trumpets and saxes. It's a really good all around microphone. I use D2s and D4s on toms. Man, these microphones rock on the toms and congas! Of course, I use a D6 on kick," Derek continues. "It's in a class by itself. Most engineers need two mics to do what this microphone does. I've turned a lot of engineers on to it. You really don't have work hard to get that phat kick sound. I really like the SCX1C/Hs for cymbals and hi-hat. They sound full; not thin or brash."
Derek works with vocalists from around the world and never misses an opportunity to use the Audix VX10 condenser vocal mic. "The VX10 is one of my favorite mics for jazz vocals. I usually give the artist their preferred mic first, and then I suggest that they try the VX10. Their typical reaction is, 'Wow! What is this?' Then they are hooked and will add it to their rider. I guess I've sold a lot of Audix VX10s! It's very warm and clean and you don't have to work hard to get the sound you want."
Derek is committed to making sure that the sound, even at the east end of the Caribbean islands, is world-class. "I don't want anyone to get here and find okey-doke performance. I push the quality of systems that are possible in the islands and always seek out the best gear available. That's why I always travel with my Audix DP Elite 8 mic kit and VX10 vocal mics. With Audix, the sound is built-in!"
For more information on the St. Lucia Arts and Jazz Festival, including this year's roster of artists and information about next spring's event, visit http://www.stluciajazz.org.