Staff Post

What music means to me

Pat Hester

Music has been the focal point of my life, ever since the day my dad gave me my first cassette tape, Sgt. Peppers on one side and Pet Sounds on the other. Listening to my dad explain how The Beatles could make all of those different sounds, my interest was captured and I came to realize what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Shortly after hearing The Beatles albums for the first time, I began to look a little closer at my home stereo. There was one part of it I was forbidden to touch, the "graphic equalizer" section. I had a lot of fun messing with those knobs and putting them back in place before my dad got home. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was the true beginning of my experimentation in sound. To this day, I keep the same equalizer under the soundboard at Jammin Java as a reminder of how I got started.

In high school I started playing in bands. It was awful, to say the least, and perpetually out of tune. I naively though it couldn’t be my fault, and decided to seek out the person who was in “control” of all the sounds. When I found a burned out hippy standing behind the board full of knobs, buttons, and faders trying desperately to impress girls, I became sure of what I wanted to do with my life.

I am one of the few who gets to do what they truly love. I continually try to improve my technique by exploring the intricacies of my craft. The eclectic group of musicians and artists that I’ve been lucky enough to work with have not only made me a better engineer, but also a better person.

I do not work as a sound engineer for personal benefit. I don’t do it for the money, the prestige, or recognition. Like most other people in the music industry, I do it because I love music. Specifically, I love live music and the indescribable thrill that comes with it. I love when a crowd goes from completely silent to uproarious in a split second. I love the outpouring of genuine emotion from both the fans and the artist.

Live music sounds best when the relationship between the artist and myself becomes symbiotic. When an artist brings their energy to the stage and puts their full trust in my mixing abilities, I can do things to make the audience cheer louder, quiet down, and “ooooh” and “ahhh” at the right moment. The musicians could not easily accomplish this without a passionate sound engineer, and a sound guy could not accomplish this without the artist’s energy.

Music to me began as a journey from uncertainty and lack of confidence, messing with my dad’s speakers as a child, to the feeling of complete control and exhilaration, making a band sound their absolute best in front of thousands of people. It is my lifes work, and I will continue to do it until my ears fall off.