My wife and I just returned from the Milwaukee Irish Festival. We heard some great music and were able to join in several sessions. In particular, Cherish the Ladies (with Liz Carroll), Lunasa, and Matt Molloy, John Carty, and Arty McGlynn were all very enjoyable! The sound reinforcement for these performances was excellent, and brought out the wonderful sounds of all the instruments and voices clearly and in a way that made the artificial amplification almost unnoticeable.
We were very much looking forward to We Banjo 3 and so were sitting right up front, but had to leave about 30 seconds into their first set because the sound pressure levels were so high it was painful, and we feared for our hearing. I had a similar experience a few years ago at the O’Flaherty Irish Music Retreat, when I had to leave the auditorium during an otherwise very nice performance because the sound pressure levels were so high it was hurting my ears and, in my opinion, detracting mighty from the beautifully-played music.
Maybe it’s an age thing. I used to go to Johnny Winter concerts and don’t remember any difficulties in listening to him play through about four stacks of Marshal amps.
In any case, I think this kind of overdone sound reinforcement in Irish trad detracts from the music, and is potentially damaging to hearing if the exposure to high sound pressure levels is long enough. Thoughts?