When Tracy Broussard moved to Nashville from his native Louisiana 13 years ago to pursue his musical dreams, he had no prospect of a steady gig. Now, his career is going full-bore with a full-time job holding down rhythm duties as drummer for country star Blake Shelton and a very successful web site devoted to country drumming called Road Dawg Online.
In 2009, this Sennheiser drummer/endorser went from playing in small Nashville clubs to being on the road with Blake Shelton and opening for country legend George Strait every night.
“As long as I’ve been touring, George Strait’s was the tour to be on,” says Broussard. “I saw him in 1994 in Lafayette, Louisiana and I was looking at the band thinking, I want to do that so badly. And now, here we are hanging out with them!”
Broussard has long used a full complement of Sennheiser evolution series microphones on his drums. Performing behind Shelton — a multi-platinum selling country artist who has racked up five number one singles — Broussard has brought a couple more Sennheiser mics into the mix to cover his expanded setup.
“I have a unique setup for country music,” he explains. “I have a 16 x 16 floor tom turned on its side that I’m using as a ’jungle’ kick drum. That’s used for a couple of songs Blake has that have drum loops on them. I’m using an e 902 on that. The idea is for it to sound distinctly different than the primary kick drum, so it gives kind of a round [Roland TR] 808 [drum machine] tone.”
For a long time, he continues, he has used an evolution e 602 on the outside of his regular kick drum. “That mic alone just sounds incredible. It’s always sounded great on every kick drum I’ve played. Then we incorporated the e 901 inside,” he says. “Having the 901 and the 602 filled in all the gaps — if there were any that I didn’t know of — and just totally spoiled me.” In combination with the 22 x 20 mahogany kick drum on his new Pearl Reference kit, he says, “There’s an amazing sound that comes out of this drum. It just floors me every night.”
An e 905 captures all the nuances of Broussard’s various snare drums. “I’ll never forget the first night I played the kit with that 905. It made all the difference in the world,” he recalls. Whether he’s using a 14 x 5-inch aluminum or a 14 x 6.5-inch brass snare drum, he says, “The e 905 really brings out the characteristics of each snare drum I use.”
A 12 x 7 auxiliary snare drum that is also brought into play for the loop-based songs is miked with an e 604, which is more typically a tom mic. “We might be using the mics in different applications but they’re really coming through,” he says.
Initially, Broussard used e 604s on his rack and two floor toms, he says. At the suggestion of Tim Moore, Sennheiser’s artist relations manager, he switched up. “We started using e 602s with the larger diaphragm on the floor toms. The low-end I’m getting with those on these new maple/mahogany mix floor toms with the combination of Aquarian drumheads is just killer.”
The hi-hat and ride mics are e 614s and the overheads are e 914s. ”We started using the ride cymbal mic about a year ago and it really cleared up my mix. I didn’t have to have my right overhead predominantly over the ride cymbal and lose my last crash,” explains Broussard. “Plus,” he adds, “I have a tambourine mounted underneath my ride cymbal, and having the 614 right under there, that comes out, too.”
Broussard is thrilled with the consistency that the Sennheiser mics bring night after night, regardless of the drum kit he is using. But, he stresses, “I can’t say enough about these mics being roadworthy. First of all, you need the durability. Secondly, you need the product support. I can’t remember the last time we had to swap something out because it wasn’t working or whatever. But if it does happen, the product support is great.”
To pass the time on the road, Broussard has set up a website for drummers (www.roaddawgonline.com) where he posts interviews and roundtable discussions, equipment reviews and photos. “We’ll talk about festivals, catering, drums, port-a-potties, whatever. It’s gotten me back into drums again. I was getting a little jaded. Now I’m checking out other guy’s kits, and through these interviews I’m learning their stories. Plus, it’s bringing the drumming community closer together — especially in Nashville.”
He concludes, “It’s been very rewarding. It’s taken my mind off being on the road and given me something productive to do. And for the first time in my life I’m combining my passion, which is drumming, with my degree in public relations.”