Big names in Music trust tour managers like expert, Clay Hutson
Big names in Music trust tour managers like expert, Clay Hutson

Clay Hutson – The Best in his Industry

Spectacular, large-scale tours have been an inseparable part of popular music since the very birth of popular music. Over the years, countless acts from Kiss to Beyonce have made and maintained their reputation with memorable stage shows. This year features yet another batch of stars hitting road in this grand tradition.

Among the many artists currently embarking on a tour are Eminem, Killers,  Jay-Z & Rihanna, Tool and U2. For all the differences between them, they have an important thing in common. They are entrusting their high quality sound to a vital piece of equipment known as the DiGiCo’s flagship SD7.

Neosoul vocalist Maxwell has chosen the SD7 to make his long-awaited return to the concert state. Sharing the bill with R&B singer-songwriter Jill Scott, Maxwell has a strong veteran at the helm of his tour – Clay Hutson.

For Clay, a tested stage veteran who has repeatedly proven himself worthy of such a task, the choice of the SD7 was an easy one. “The SD7 was literally the only console that could come close to doing what we needed it to do.” He goes on to add, “Between the amount of inputs and outputs needed for the two acts. One of the beauties of the console is that anything you want it to do, it will do. The new Stealth processing allows us to load the heck out of the desk with all these dynamics and effects, and it’s a very stable platform, Not to mention, the dynamic headroom is well beyond anything that is out there and the sound is transparent.”

But first let’s learn a little about Clay Hutson and why he is so uniquely qualified to assess the sound system’s caliber.

Why Clay Hutson?

Clay Hutson behind the stage
Clay Hutson behind the stage

What is it about Clay that earns such trust and respect among the elite in popular music? The best place to start is with his dazzling resume.

Hutson has worked with some of the very best in the business. He’s operated as a stage/tour manager for the likes of Pink, Prince, Guns N’ Roses and Garbage. But if this lineup of heavy hitters isn’t impressive enough there’s also his admirable philosophy to consider.

Working hard

Working with bands and artists with a well-known passion for their music has apparently had its impact on Clay. “I think my passion for the business and my hard work make me successful. 

Another crucial habit he’s picked up over the years is a tendency toward perfectionism. “I make sure that I put forth my best effort for every project. Also, I am not afraid to work odd hours or long hours,” he says.  I check whatever I do immediately. I check it again, and I check it a third time. If I check everything at least three times, I catch potential problems that I may otherwise overlook.”

Anyone familiar with the behavior of rock stars knows that they aren’t always a pleasant bunch to be around. Clay Hutson isn’t phased by thisHe insists, “I would rather work with someone who has an unpleasant demeanor and a solid work ethic than someone who is nice but produces mediocre or average quality.” This seems to apply both to the artists he works with and those chosen to be a part of his crew.

For Clay, having a rock-solid crew means more than simply being surrounded by the best. It also means leading by example. “I want to be as productive as I can be, and I also want the crew to be just as productive.” That means “paying particular attention to the way things are done before the show starts because that will determine how well things will go afterward.

For any music fan curious about what the crew is up to during a concert, Clay’s words provide a great deal of insight. “When the show is going on, I start to construct the actions that we need to break everything down so that I can give my staff members the directions that they need to do what they need to do after the show is over.”

Clay knows right tools for the job

The ability of Clay and his crew to tackle a wide range of touring artists thanks to the best equipment. To understand how Clay came across such equipment, we first have to explore a vital step in his development. His transition from manager to entrepreneur.

A Leap of Faith

After years of working with all different aspects of tour management, Clay decided to focus on his experience as a sound engineer for live entertainment to create a company that would expand on his mission. Soon the idea of starting business was hatched. “Fortunately, I learned valuable skills and lessons in each of my past positions.”

Clay had acquired experience with a company. However, owing to factors out of his control (“the Big Recession”) it was time to move on. “With my acquired skills and the need to distance myself from a struggling company, I decided to leave my job and start my own business. At that point, I just knew I was ready to set out on my own. I took a leap of faith, and I landed on my feet.”

All of Clay’s various experiences as a tour manager, sound manager and an entrepreneur dovetail into his being the perfectly aware of what kinds of tools are best for a dynamic stage performer.

Clay Hutson isn’t alone in his fondness for the SD7. Fellow sound engineer David Payne also sings its praises. He said, “The DiGiCo SD7 is a console that keeps up with what I want to do creatively as an engineer. There is an amazing amount of power at my fingertips.”

Whether its selecting a sound engineer or a dazzling sound system, the best will always opt for the best.

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