Alan Parsons in Nashville, TN Oct 27th, 2007
How This Day Actually Turned Out - page 1
I arrived at the downtown Nashville SAE location around 9:45am. Looking through my CD collection the night before, I settled on the first Ambrosia album CD to try to get an autograph for. Figured many/most/all would bring Dark Side Of the Moon and I'm a non-conformist as many of you have figured out by now. About 75 people were lined up for the 10am session when we were told that there were a few equipment difficulties that were being sorted out. Around 10:30am they opened the gates right next to where I was standing (40th in line) and that allowed me to be one of the first attendees to enter the building. This lucky break insured me a good seat once I signed the phone order credit card slip.
Third row seemed right and after one seating change to get the center channel speaker out of my way, I had a direct view to the "table of Alan's". A quick scan of the room indicated we would be treated to some surround audio today. A 5.1 speaker array was setup on pedestals around the room and subs were integrated at the front, below stage level. A Sony DVD player sat next to the video projector with composite used just to access disc menus I believe. The S-Video connection was used to show the output of Alan Parsons' laptop; this was the first sign of trouble.
We could not begin the "10am" session until the laptop output worked as Alan had slides for this presentation. Having put on meetings with laptops and projectors a few hundred times, I was shocked that they weren't simply using a 15 pin SVGA cable to make this connection. It's simple and usually works right away with a simple keystroke to toggle video output. Wait it gets better; "Gee, this ought to be working but I'm a Mac person anyway". That's real encouraging. This goes on for another 15 minutes so the "10am" session finally gets under way about 11am.
Introductions are made by Alan Shacklock (former leader of Harvest label mate Babe Ruth) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babe_Ruth_(band) who just happens to manage this location of SAE recording school. He thanks AP for taking time to being there, offers a brief flattering biography mentioning that they actually met in 1971 during the Harvest label heyday. AS briefly recounts the Friday sessions that AP oversaw with SAE students; he suggests that "we could refer to them as Alan #1 and Alan #2". With that, Alan Parsons begins to speak.
Since this section focuses on technical SNAFU details, please click the DSOTM logo for the actual AP text / Q&A remarks.
Cracks appear in my day when AP asked if the Sony DVD player to supply DTS playback (via 6 direct boxes and cables) was ready now and was then told it was not. Discussion continued without musical excerpts to bring references to life. During a break, Alan uses a marker to label some DTS CDRs and then examines the front panel Sony DVD player in closer detail. After some more discussion with SAE personnel (mostly students in their early 20's), the cables are unhooked and the Sony player is taken back to the mixing board for a direct connection. Presumably, the problem is the in the snake (multi-channel audio cable) between the stage and mixing board was at fault. I see the player being moved and resume small talk about music in surround with a newfound friend.
At this point the SAE chap who opened the gates for us, apologizes for the technical difficulties, that we would continue past the noon hour due to the late start and that any morning attendees wishing to attend the afternoon session were welcome to stay. We resumed the session, thinking the technical issues are behind us; I didn't realize at this point that I would be staying. Alan continues taking questions and offering stories until the next music cue is asked for and again the playback system was unavailable. Shit! Which brings us to probably the most painful comment of the day, when Alan considered the SNAFU, looked at us and made reference to an earlier question about why quad didn't make it:
"Perhaps this is why surround audio has failed to catch on..." which triggers some laughter in the room; with myself the possible exception.
The morning session went until nearly 1pm to give attendees the time they'd been expecting. When it concluded, attendees dispersed or got in line to get Alan's autograph on items from the merchandise table or items they'd brought from home (like me).
Continue to page 2 to see the autograph and more of this story
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