Montreal musicians mourn loss of veteran music engineer Rob Heaney

Montreal’s roots-music milieu was shocked by the dying of veteran engineer Rob Heaney, who died of a coronary heart assault in his automotive on June 11.

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Music producer Invoice Garrett obtained a name from Montreal sound engineer Rob Heaney on the afternoon of June 11. The pair have been alleged to have an internet assembly that afternoon with each members of the Canadian folks band Mama’s Broke to hearken to mixes of the group’s upcoming album.

“He referred to as simply round three and mentioned, ‘I’m within the automotive, I’m feeling actually, actually awful. I’m feeling dizzy,’ ” Garrett mentioned. “So I mentioned, ‘Don’t sweat it. Get house, I’ll cancel the session with the opposite of us.’ And he should’ve had a coronary heart assault a few minutes later, as a result of he was in his automotive when he died.”

Heaney had a coronary heart assault in his automotive on the way in which to his house in Pointe-St-Charles. The automotive was concerned in a minor crash, however it was the center assault that killed him. He was 61.

Heaney was one of many province’s most sought-after engineers and had labored on recordings with Patrick Watson, Elsiane, The Franklin Electrical, Michel Pagliaro, Ray Bonneville, Isabelle Boulay and Kevin Guardian. He had additionally labored with Cirque du Soleil since 1994, engineering and mixing most of the Montreal-based circus’s albums, together with the Grammy Award-nominated Alegría. He additionally labored as an engineer on quite a few movie and TV initiatives.


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As well as, he was the dwell mixer for Kate & Anna McGarrigle’s concert events for a lot of their profession.

“He was definitely top-of-the-line engineers within the nation,” Garrett mentioned. “I’ve labored with a number of the finest in Toronto and Vancouver, and I can inform you he’s completely proper up there with the most effective.”

Joel Zifkin, who performed violin with the McGarrigles for years, mentioned Heaney was an actual sound board whiz in live performance halls.

“He might make it sound nice,” Zifkin mentioned. “I’ve labored with on-the-road sound engineers who’re sooner, however he made sound that was pretty much as good as anyone’s. He was the street warrior. You’re all the time in a unique room the place every part sounds completely different and it’s obtained completely different bizarre properties which are tougher to the sound man than different rooms. Finally, the viewers obtained nice sound. They obtained to listen to the music correctly. He obtained the McGarrigles. He didn’t make them sound like one thing else. He made them sound like they do, however higher.”


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Montreal drummer and percussionist Thom Gossage, who labored incessantly with Heaney, mentioned Heaney’s genius was understanding the musicians he labored with.

“It felt like he was in your crew,” Gossage mentioned. “He actually wished to do the most effective for you. He wasn’t condescending. He wouldn’t belittle you since you didn’t know what mic to make use of. It was all the time about getting the most effective sound. I discovered it very inclusive the way in which he was within the studio. I assumed he was so clever about sound. He didn’t have a technique of doing issues. He wouldn’t insist on utilizing one form of microphone for an instrument. He’d are available in entrance of the instrument and pay attention and see if it sounded good. It was all about working with you to get the fitting sound.”

His pals and colleagues discuss of his partaking persona, his curiosity and his enthusiasm about assembly folks.


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“He simply completely savoured every part he did, whether or not it was the meals he was consuming or the folks he was with,” mentioned Jenny Gilbert, his ex-wife and mom of their daughter, Kyla Gilbert. “He engaged his power to the fullest. It was nearly like he was just a little child together with his power … and he had his accomplice, Nancy (Chisholm), whom he simply completely adored and she or he completely adored him. … He beloved her to bits. He beloved life.”

Gavin Fernandes, who had labored with Heaney because the Eighties, mentioned Heaney all the time had time to assist out youthful colleagues. And he by no means panicked within the studio.

“He was all the time tremendous calm,” mentioned Fernandes, who’s a sound mixer within the movie and TV biz and sometimes labored on initiatives with Heaney. “He would have 40 or 50 musicians on the market on the ground, and he was cool as a cucumber. He’s speaking them via it. He’s by no means elevating his voice. He was the voice of calm within the storm, and it gave the musicians confidence.”

Added singer-songwriter Rob Lutes: “Everyone seems to be damaged up as a result of we misplaced this actually particular man who additionally occurred to be this wonderful musical confidante, collaborator, information. It’s a big loss.”


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