Strings Music Festival: Understanding the lingo of musicians | SteamboatToday.com

Strings Music Festival: Understanding the lingo of musicians

Ali Mignone/For Steamboat Today

C Street Brass is set to perform free concerts at a variety of Steamboat venues this summer.

Every industry has its own lingo. I assume jargon was originally invented as shorthand among people doing similar work, but I think we really use it to show off that we know things other people don't know. For this column, I thought it would be fun to share some concert vernacular I'm familiar with — why should I be the only person in Steamboat who's confused all the time?

This week at Strings

• Monday, 5:30 p.m. — C Street Brass at the Library (free)

• Tuesday, 11 a.m. — Big Bang Boom (youth)

• Wednesday, 6 p.m. — Igudesman & Joo (humorous classical)

• Thursday, 12:15 p.m. — C Street Brass (Music on the Green)

• Thursday, 7 p.m. — A Musical Talk with Conductor Loras Schissel at Library Hall (free)

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• Friday, 6 p.m. — Brass and Brews at Butcherknife (free)

• Friday, 8 p.m. — Lonestar (Country)

• Saturday, 8 p.m. — Civil War Brass Band (classical, multimedia)

• Backline: onstage audio amplification gear and (sometimes) instruments. Artists often travel only with personal instruments and use rented backline gear at each venue.

• House or house sound: the venue's sound engineer. Or what the audience is hearing from their seats. Or the speakers pointing at the audience. Also called the PA. I'm often confused about what's being talked about.

• Line check: making sure all microphones, amps and speakers have power and are receiving signal or sending it. This is when you find out that poor coiling technique breaks cables (see "over-under.") Line check is usually performed by technicians, not musicians.

• Local crew: technicians who are paid by the venue. Sometimes called house crew.

• Monitors: the sound engineer running the band's onstage equipment. Or what the band is hearing onstage. Or the wedge-shaped speakers pointing at the band. See earlier comment about me being confused.

• Over-under: proper cable coiling technique that wraps the cable in a nice, neat coil, as opposed to the unfortunate extension cord coiling technique of running it over your palm and around your elbow in a giant circle of tangled mess.

• Roadies: technicians who travel with and are paid by the band.

• Settle up: "pay me."

• Snake: the giant cable that gets power to all the gear onstage or signal from all the gear onstage to the mixing boards. Each snake gets its own wheeled road box and can be terribly heavy. The trick is to only take out as much as you need, and leave the rest coiled inside the box. If you lay it in carefully, both ends will be free without having to uncoil the entire 500-pound mess every time. See "Strike the Courtesy" for what happens when roadies make the locals mad.

• Sound check: adjusting sound levels onstage and in the house. This is each musician's chance to get the right mix in his or her monitor — a little more bass, a little more lead vocal, a little less keys. It's also the touring sound engineer's chance to hear what the venue sounds like and make equipment adjustments.

• Strike the courtesy: a (usually casual) comment from the local crew chief that tells the local crew to intentionally coil the snake in its road box with both ends on the bottom of the 500-pound coil. Or to coil it upside down, with the wrong end free on top. Either way means the roadies will have to uncoil the entire thing at the next venue. I promise that we have never done this at Strings, but I've seen it at other places.

Ali Mignone is stage manager for Strings Music Festival. When she's not telling roadies and musicians what to do, you can find her hiking, biking or skiing around the Yampa Valley.

This week at Strings

• Monday, 5:30 p.m. — C Street Brass at the Library (free)

• Tuesday, 11 a.m. — Big Bang Boom (youth)

• Wednesday, 6 p.m. — Igudesman & Joo (humorous classical)

• Thursday, 12:15 p.m. — C Street Brass (Music on the Green)

• Thursday, 7 p.m. — A Musical Talk with Conductor Loras Schissel at Library Hall (free)

• Friday, 6 p.m. — Brass and Brews at Butcherknife (free)

• Friday, 8 p.m. — Lonestar (Country)

• Saturday, 8 p.m. — Civil War Brass Band (classical, multimedia)