The Art of Sound at Open Stage Denver and Fraco's Bar

Open Stage Denver is "a production company in Colorado providing Sound Reinforcement, Lighting and other Production for Concerts, Weddings, and Events." The owner is Tree Williams, who also works at Fraco's live music bar in Denver.

Williams says that he's always been a musician.

"The first time I mixed a band was in 1989 when I had to mix my own band who were hired to play at the Mitchell Nebraska High School senior prom," he says. "I had no idea what I was doing, but the guys who rented us the P.A. were kind enough to help us set it up and teach me about it so that we got through the prom. That started a long series of me being the unwilling guy is the band who always bought the P.A. gear and then had to run it from stage. Eventually I transitioned to just running sound, because I learned it's nearly impossible to get a good mix from the stage. In 2012 I started working for Open Stage Denver as a sound engineer and open mic host. In 2014 I bought the company. Generally we now run concerts, corporate events and weddings. I do a lot of live recording and make many live concert albums alongside Shooting Dice Studios who produce videos for the live concerts we record. We still have one open mic night each week and a lot of bands will record their set in order to make a demo video. When I'm not doing a concert, corporate event or wedding I work in music clubs. I am currently the Music Manager and lead sound man at Fraco's Bar and Live Music - formerly The Toad Tavern in Littleton."

Through Open Stage Denver, Williams has worked in many clubs as a sound man.

"Usually running the open stages, but often helping out on the other shows as well," he says. "Through Dice at Shooting Dice studios, I met the owners and started hosting the Open Stage Denver open mic night on Wednesdays. They asked me to take over the other live music shows."

Williams has mixed over 3,000 shows at this point.

"Many touring acts and many fantastic musicians based in Denver," he says. "John Corabi from Motley Crew, Faster Pussycat, Thumpin' John Adams (John Denver The Tribute), HedP.E. in clubs. Honestly I find that the best musicians are humble and willing to work with the sound man to get the best sound in the room. Local and national artists that ask questions like, 'how's my stage volume?' and pay attention to requests during the sound check are the best to work with. When a band understands that the sound man is there to help them sound their best the show usually goes well. Bands that don't pay attention to the sound man often have troubles during the show."

Williams describes Fraco's as a "great sounding 325 person capacity club who's stage faces the bar so balancing the stage volume is a priority."

"We generally get a really great sound in the house and on stage," he says. "We make sure the kick is thumping and everyone on stage is heard, with the vocals riding on top. There are areas in the club so that whether you want your face melted off or you would rather chill and play pool while having a conversation you can find a great space."

As for gear:--

"Fraco's has a Behringer X32 for the FOH, but we utilize a Midas DL32 in order to use the better Midas preamps in that stage box," Williams says. "Our main FOH speakers are RCF 932a that can deliver 131db at 1 meter. We pair those with Cerwin Vega passive 1x18 folded horn subwoofers. The house sound is clear and powerful. Metal, rap and EDM shows are kicking while country and and acoustic shows are clear and bright. We are in the process of upgrading our stage monitors to RCF 915a, basically the same speakers we use for FOH, but with a smaller horn. We can also accommodate up to 6 more in ear monitor mixes if the artists bring their IEMs. We use Shure, Rhode and Sennheiser wired mics and offer up to 4 Phenyx Pro wireless handheld mics. Many singers bring their favorite microphones and we accommodate that as well."

"I use Studio One to record and mix audio on my MAC from the X32," he continues. "I use Freestyler to program and run our light show. Fraco's has spent the last year cleaning, renovating and updating the entire club so that patrons and band members now have a much better concert environment. We continue to make improvements and have an amazing year of live music scheduled. Fraco's has live events 7 days a week. You can check the website for the schedule www.fracosbar.com."