The Civil Wars – 2 Sold Out Chicago shows

April 12, 2011

Schuba’s Tavern – Chicago, IL

My parents were married about 3 blocks away from Schuba’s.  It’s always great to be able to drive down Belmont Avenue in Chicago and still see the church, and many other sights that I grew up seeing when I lived in Chicago.  My Grandmother lived about 2 blocks North of Belmont Avenue, walking distance from Cubs park.  My Grandfather played as a one-man band at the Cubby Bear several times, right across the street from Wrigley Field.

I always love going to see shows in Chicago as well.  When I found out that newly signed endorsers, The Civil Wars were in town for 2 nights, I just had to catch a show.  I had heard about them when I went to see Tony Rice and newly signed endorser Josh Williams play a show in Nashville at the Belcourt Theatre.  The engineers for the Theatre were raving about this group that had performed the night before and that Taylor Swift was tweeting them up.  With the help of today’s technology, I was able to look them up on my handy iPhone and find out more info. A few days later, I reached out via email met up with management.  Later, I met with the group, they tried out a few mics and ended up loving the KSM9 for their vocals.  John Paul White mentioned that he used the SM7B to record his vocals for their debut full length release.  The other half of the group is Joy Williams who I had known about from the Christian market.

So, back to Chicago.  I called up our Chicago based photographer, the infamous Paul Natkin and he was free for the evening to grab some live shots.  We arrived at Schuba’s at about 5:45 and grabbed some dinner (the French Onion soup at Schuba’s is the BEEEEST!).

Immediately following dinner, Joy and John Paul had arrived to do a quick line check.  We took the opportunity to grab some shots of them in the alley behind the club.  We returned to find an artist named Arum Rae Valkonen doing her line check. She is part of group called White Dress however, The Civil Wars asked her to come out solo and travel with them.  Arum Rae sang through a standard SM58 and played guitar. It was a great set of music and she has an interesting voice.

The 58 came off and a pair of KSM9’s took their place front and center.  Joy and John Paul took the stage and proceeded to quiet the room with every song.  Their voices blend together with the magic of Simon & Garfunkel.  Their songs, deep and rich with emotional content.  At every song’s end, wild applause.  The sold out crowd was mesmerized.  I was so glad I sent that email !!

Minimal production, 2 performers, 3 vocal mics, 2 instrument mics  (KSM313 on JP’s amp and 1 Beta 57A for Joy’s “Squeeze Box” and that was it. How could something so easy be soo goood?  Something magical happens when you break it to just the singers and their song.  How can that emit more emotion than a big massive production?  Somehow, it just does….and I don’t care why.  I just stand there and enjoy every second.  I was right there in front, behind my favorite photographer, both of us….speechless.

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Ryan Smith

Ryan is a Regional Manager of Artist Relations at the Shure office in Nashville, TN. He started at Shure in 1993 in Customer Service and joined the AR team in 1996. Ryan has over 30 years of performance experience playing drums and percussion in various groups and genres. In his spare time he enjoys woodworking, watching movies, videography, and camping with his family. His Twitter handle is @ryan_smith1969.

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