Located in the heart of this bustling Southern California city, the Fender Center for Music Education is a busy place. The 33,000-square foot building is home to a music school, a museum, two performance venues, and a recording studio, and the Center is buzzing with activity throughout most of the year.
Run by the nonprofit Fender Museum of Music and the Arts Foundation, the Fender Center's main focus is to provide music education to young people at low or no cost. As the Center's audio engineer Kelly McGuire explains, the program has made an impact on a great many kids' lives.
"Our program is called Kids Rock Free," says McGuire. "It's a low-cost lesson program for kids from 7 to 17 years old. We've been doing this for going on about 12 years now, and over 12,000 kids have been through the program." The Center is also home to two live performance venues. "We have an outdoor concert venue where we do summer concerts like Steve Miller Band, and we also have a smaller nightclub venue," says McGuire.
As a non-profit, the Center doesn't rely on deep corporate pockets, counting instead on the support of donors. "Steve Miller and Paul Rogers have been really supportive," says McGuire. "They've both put on benefit fundraisers for us, and companies like PreSonus have been there for us since the beginning."
McGuire has been mixing a variety of projects on the Center's StudioLive 24.4.2 console. "For one of our first projects, we put together a three-concert TV series starring Deana Carter." The project was a collaboration with nearby Lucas Oil. "They're our neighbors here in Corona," says McGuire, "and they have a full TV production studio that turns out about 100 shows per year. There are lots of musicians working over there, and they're huge supporters of our program, and they came up with the idea of doing a show with us, originating from our venue, and aired on their network."
McGuire approached Carter and her band about the idea. "When I approached Deana, Max and David about doing this show, I just had a really good feeling about it," he says. "I said, 'Let's try it out because I think you're really going to like it. The audio's going to be good, and the video's going to look fantastic.' And that's exactly how it turned out."
As McGuire points out, the StudioLive enabled him to wear multiple hats during the shows, handling the live mix, monitors, TV feeds, and live recording. "I was able to mix the show live, mix a couple of other sources for the TV track, and run five monitor mixes for the band, and at the same time I was tracking the show to a MacBook, using Studio One to edit it later. That's what's so cool about the StudioLive. There is really nothing else that I can think of that makes the whole process so effortless and streamlined."
While the initial show with Deana Carter was put together as a showcase, the response both at the Center and at Lucas Oil has been so positive that plans are already in the works for several new productions. Upcoming shows will include members of Grand Funk Railroad, .38 Special, and Jack Mack and the Heart Attack.
But the StudioLive has been busy on more than just TV shows. "I've also been using the console for other stuff, including some shows, some studio recording, and some projects with the kids," says McGuire. "It's going to be in use all summer, pretty much all the time, including some of our outdoor concerts."