Rumput is a big band — nine musicians, four of which sing lead or close harmony vocals at various times in a typical set, plus a puppeteer with a mobile shadow theater. But we’re flexible, practiced at subtle dynamics and careful listening, and we prefer to keep it simple.
Our preferred audio setup is as close as we can get to unplugged — just three microphones:
1. Hannah’s voice and cak (soprano ukelele)
2. Andy’s selo/cello (which is used primarily as a percussion instrument)
3. Jess’ voice (typically used on only a few songs per set).
But the required audio system depends on the size and acoustics of your venue, as well as the demeanor of your audience. If they’re there to listen, we know how to keep their attention; otherwise, the situation may call for a little more wattage.
We have our own compact PA system (a Bose L1 Model II with two bass modules, 3 condenser mics with low mic stands, and a small stage amp for the bass ukelele.) If you have the gear, personnel, and expertise, we’re happy to let you run sound instead.
Each of the plucked string instruments — guitar, cak (soprano ukelele), cuk (tenor ukelele), bass ukelele, and selo — has a built-in pickup. The bass uke requires amplification, and we usually use a stage amp for that. But for the others, jacking in is a last resort — we prefer to go acoustic or use microphones if the room will support it.
We have lavalier mics for the violin and a built-in pickup for the flute as well. If you have better mics, that’s preferred.
We typically don’t mic Brian’s percussion, as we find it cuts through the mix just by proximity to the vocal mics.
The spatial arrangement depends on your venue as well. If the stage is at least 20 feet (6m) wide, we prefer to spread out in a single arc. For 18 feet (5.4 m) or less, we’ll use a 2-tiered setup.
We always prefer to sit on the floor, but will use chairs if needed.
We’re flexible on some details of the arrangement, but the following criteria are required:
1. Hannah (lead vox) goes in the middle.
2. Andy (selo) sits next to Hannah.
3. Kyle and Natalie sit near each other — they pass instruments back and forth.
4. The melodists (flute and violin) sit together.
5. The percussionist is off to one side so as not to overwhelm the mix.
We strongly prefer to perform with our puppeteer. If an 8′ x 4′ (2.4 x 1.2m) or larger riser is available, we can sit in front of his shadow theater. Otherwise we’ll need to find space off to one side of the stage.