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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

All Hail The Pensado Awards

Dave and Herb at the Pensado Awards
(Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for The Pensado Awards)
I don't think you can claim to be in the music business right now and not be aware of mixer guru Dave Pensado's Pensado's Place online video show. Over the last 3+ years and 169 episodes, Dave's show has provided a much-needed forum for the under-appreciated music makers of world, a void that the show so ably fills.

It's also provided a new outlet for a facet of music education that's also been under-utilized in that Dave actually shows you the tricks he uses every day on some of the biggest records that he mixes, and his guests often provide many of their tricks and tips as well. Dave's folksy style on the show is exactly as it is in real life in his Southern hospitality and his way of making you feel like you're the most important person in the room.

I interviewed Dave way back in the first edition of The Mixing Engineer's Handbook (you can read an excerpt of that interview here). He became one of my favorite people then, and he remains so today. I wish I could record all the talks we have, because I always walk away with several pearls of wisdom.

Pensado's Place took an important step forward last Saturday night with the inception of the first Pensado Awards, held at the swanky Fairmont Hotel in Santa Monica, and attended by some 600 industry movers and shakers. The awards show honored the behind-the-scenes music makers - those engineers and producers that normally fall under the radar in other awards shows like the Tech Awards and Grammys.

You can read more about the details of the Pensado Awards elsewhere on the Web so I won't go into too many of the details here. Since I'm an analyst and not a journalist (as I keep telling all the publicists out there who keep pitching me), let me give you the big picture of the event.

Show Co-hosts 
(Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for The Pensado Awards)
Perhaps the best thing that Dave and Herb Trawick (the executive producer of Pensado's Place and Dave's co-host) did was to use 4 co-costs to anchor the awards show. Mixer Chris Lord Alge, artist Lisa Loeb, mixer Marcella Araica and mixer Young Guru, as well as various industry presenters for individual awards, did all the heavy lifting. Dave and Herb appeared only at the end to present the last two awards. 4 hosts might have been a bit of an overkill, but just the fact that Dave and Herb decided to give up the spotlight was pretty cool and an unexpected change of pace.

There were 16 awards categories, and although they could have easily centered on the older "classic" nominees, they proved to be surprisingly diverse and cross-demographic. Some of the awards that skewed towards the younger part of the industry included Break Through Songwriter, Break Through Mixer, Spin Doctor DJ Award, and my personal favorite, the AIR Award (award for best assistant, intern or runner). It's easy to concentrate on the greats of our industry who've been doing it for years, but Dave refuses to stay within those boundaries and provides something for everyone in the business regardless of your place in it.

One of the highlights of the evening was the Pensado Giant Award, which was presented to the great Al Schmitt. Al is the engineering godfather to us all and a wise and noble man to boot, so it was great to see him so deservedly honored again. Neil Young even made a special appearance to present the award, and Paul McCartney sent a congratulatory video as well.

The Pensado Awards showed a few inevitable growing pains, but less than you'd expect for a first time event. Hopefully this will become an annual affair, and with the attention to detail that Dave and Herb give to everything, you just know that it will get better and better. I'm really happy that I was lucky enough to attend.

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