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Sidhe and Mackie: Exploring New Musical Territories

Sidhe
  Sidhe
 

“The cool thing about two people working together is you get a bigger synergy of ideas,” says Michael Millham, guitarist for Sidhe. Synergy is in no short supply for this acoustic duo. Whether it’s the result of their combined telepathic creativity, or their unique individual styles, Sidhe effortlessly displays that the whole is greater than the sum of their individual parts, in their music, and in their lives.

Sidhe (pronounced “she”) is a husband and wife acoustic duo from Spokane, Washington. Guitarist Michael Millham and vocalist K.T. Millham formed Sidhe in 1997 and have released two CDs: the eponymous “Sidhe” in 1999, and most recently, “Live at The Shop”. The latter was recorded live using Mackie mixers at “The Shop,” a Spokane, Washington coffee house.

Sidhe have been using a 1202 for live shows for years. According to Michael, it was the only logical choice they had to reproduce K.T.’s pristine voice and his own intricate guitar playing live. “It’s the cleanest mixer out there,” says Millham. “We tried a bunch of other mixers, and found that the Mackie had a much cleaner and open sound.”

Besides the 1202’s pristine sonic quality, Millham found a particularly resourceful way to use another of the mixer’s unique features when playing smaller, more intimate gigs: its extremely hot headphone output. “We split the headphone signal in two, and connect a couple of sets of those walkman type earphone buds. The result? Instant stereo in ear monitors! They sound great, we get a total stereo sound with all our effects, and the cost is a whopping $34 for the whole set up!”

“Live at The Shop” was recorded, mixed, and mastered using a 1642-VLZ PRO mixer, and HR824 Monitors. Millham was pleased with the results. “For our first CD, we paid a named mastering house to master the disk,” he recalls. “For ‘Live at The Shop’ we did it ourselves using HR824s and the 1642, and it turned out much better than when we had the hired gun do it.”

Sidhe accomplishes a rare feat; they successfully merge the sometimes disparate worlds of classical and pop into a passionate, yet accessible blend of sophisticated soundscapes and ethereal melodies that transport you to a world devoid of cliché and predictability. Both Michael and K.T. are classically trained musicians. While their music has a precision and authority that can be attributed to their classical background, it never lacks soul or an earnest sensibility that shows their genuine enthusiasm for world music, jazz, folk and pop.

Sidhe plays close to 200 shows a year , traveling over most of the Western United States. They perform their music in every venue imaginable: bars, restaurants, book stores and house concerts. They’re also booked continuously at college campuses, corporate parties and their staple: coffee houses. “The coffee house scene is large nationwide and growing,” says Millham. “For an alternate source of recreation, coffee houses fit the bill because it’s a little bit more low key. With that low key atmosphere, the need for low key live music has never been bigger.”

Millham recently organized “Coffehouse Creatures”. A live concert featuring seven fellow acoustic based acts from the Spokane Area. The concert was held at The Met, a 700-seat theater in downtown Spokane, and was mixed and recorded using a variety of Mackie mixers. The concert was a huge success and helped expose music fans to the wide range of acoustic based music that is out there, much of it at their local coffee house.

Sidhe is an inspiration to musicians who want to make a living at music but whose music may not fit into the narrow environs of today’s music industry. “With the vertical integration of the music industry, the record labels own the radio stations that own the billboards that are owned by the liquor companies and so on. There are very specific sounds that are being promoted, and most of the world’s music is not that sound,” says Millham. “Of course, that’s fine. Commercial music is for delivering consumers to sponsors. But there is this huge majority of music in the world that doesn’t have an outlet, and that’s where this whole coffee house music comes from. You have these venues that are supported well by coffee drinkers, the audiences are real attentive, and it’s a lot of fun too.”

 

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