Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted: November 23, 2017 in Recent Projects

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A beautiful year in the studio. Thanks to all the great musicians who came though the studio this year. It was amazing to work with all of you. Support the arts! Artists make the world better for us all!

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I usually record bass guitar both through a DI and through an amp. The DI provides a lot of the weight and lower harmonics, and the amp adds low-mid punch and definition to the sound. I’ve been relatively happy using standard DI boxes (Whirlwind, Radial, etc.) through my rather strange but wonderful Peavey VMP-2 tube preamp.

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That monster is one great bass preamp. And between the two, the sound has been good.

But then I stumbled on this thing:

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The A-Designs Audio, Reddi Tube Direct Box. Quite simply put, this is an indispensable piece of studio gear for those who want rich, multi-harmonic bass sounds from an electric bass guitar in the recording studio. I auditioned one for a project and immediately went and bought one. It was that good. The direct sound I was able to get from my Fender American Deluxe P-Bass was ridiculous! So ridiculous that it gave me enough low-mid punch, along with lower harmonics, when tracked through my Focusrite ISA 430 Producer Pack Channel Strip (with very little eq), that I decided to go straight into the board without the amp for the bass on Mundo Brew’s latest CD. The sound was great, and the mixing simple – the bass sat in the mix like a champ!

What I Charge

Posted: November 11, 2017 in Pricing

So here’s what I find works for me right now:

Packages:

Songs: 250.00 per song. Includes tracking, mixing, mastering.

Cds: 3000.00 for an up-to-12 song CD. Includes tracking, mixing, mastering. 

Tracking only: 175.00 per song.

Mixing only: 175.00 per song

Mastering: 60:00 per song
Dirt cheap. Enough money for me to keep my equipment up and state of the art, and maybe a dinner out with the missus. I expect 1/2 on the front end, and the other half when the project is done.

For my rationale.

I hope this promotes clarity. Now – back to work!

Just finished recording John Nelson (the Rev) with his new bluegrass project. Man does he ever roll with some great artists! Stuart Duncan on fiddle, Adam Steffey on mandolin, Randy Kohrs on resonator and electric slide guitar, and for this CD he brought in Kenny and Amanda Smith. Kenny played acoustic guitar and they both sang backup vocals. Check out this great CD today!

Click below for YouTube of one great song from the CD:

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Mundo Brew: Consolation Cafe

Posted: November 10, 2017 in Recent Projects

 

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Just finished! Mundo Brew’s amazing new CD Consolation Cafe. Its always great fun tracking Mundo Brew, a Brazilian style Americana group from Louisville, KY. The songs written by band leader Chris Elwood with Latin American jazz chords and changes. Once again, the session was “old school”  –  completely tracked in a four-day marathon “live-in” experience. Chris (vocals and guitar) and Brad Wigger (percussion) lived at the house. Chris’ daughters, Isabelle and Josephine, drove down and stayed at a nearby hotel, tracking backup vocals. Flutist Doug Yeager drove down to track flute and harmonica, and Burns and Lorraine Stanfield flew in from Massachusetts for a day and a half to track keyboards and trumpet and sing backup vocals. Kim Cabrera drove down for Kentucky and tracked saxophone, and Nashville great Jeff Byrd came by and tracked a few more saxophone parts as well – an amazing addition on the song “Wrong Way.” The CD has a lot of live feel and energy and tons of great spontaneity. I’d say it is the perfect antidote to the crazy political climate today. Check it out and pre-order your copy now!

So, as a project studio, owned by someone who records, mixes, and masters “on the side,” I’m often approached by artists who are looking for a deal – which sometimes means they expect free service. In many instances, these are friends, or friends of friends, and in some instances they are really good artists – the kind I’d love working with! There is a part of me that would love to do this free of charge. I love what I do, and I love helping others achieve their musical goals. Early on, as I was “working on my chops” I did a few free projects – which took some of the pressure off and helped. When I listen back to some of those projects, I’m glad I didn’t charge!

As I got better, I found myself 50-75 hours into a project, listening to an artist ask me to “tweak” something (which sometimes would take several hours) and saying to myself: “I’d feel a lot better about this is I were getting paid!” True enough.

So about 10 years ago I started charging for my services. In my humble opinion, I’m still “a steal” if you compare my work to comparable work. And at this time I mostly charge by the project, rather than by the hour, which allows me to be the laid back guy that I like to be in the studio – and not to worry when I’m a little slower than some (perfectionist that I am).

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My friend Roger Conner is a first rate wood-worker and just finished designing and creating an incredible guitar stand for the studio. I have admired his work for some time and so one day I told him I needed a stand for the studio, but that I didn’t like the clunky “Crackerbarrel-looking” stands that are on the market. He said he’d be glad to try to design one to my specs, and so he drew a few pictures of what he heard me asking for – sleek lines, not to much of a “slant” in order to save space, not clunky, curves, easy to disassemble for moving, and quality hardwood (preferably mahogany and/or maple).

I went to his shop to see an early mockup prototype, and he was off and running, working in his incredible, careful, meticulous fashion. 

Then, last week, he tells me it’s pretty much done, except for the final coats of polyurethane. When he brought it in, i was stunned. Absolutely perfect! 

Hand-laminated mahogany and maple for strength, elegant curves, sleek – perfect! I (almost) hate to put my guitar cases on it, it is so elegant. I decided to find a space in the control room with good light, and with great sight-lines for those entering. Roger credits his mentor Brian Oleksa as the primary inspiration and guide for the design in its final form. Roger has decided to add this to his product-line, so if you want one, contact him at: rogerconnertn@gmail.com. All proceeds go to a great NYC Rock Camp his daughter is part of, an organization that increases access to musical instruction for kids in Brooklyn, New York. Current (early bird) price: $200 solid wood; $250 laminate like mine. 

At a CD release party last month, Sherry Cothran not only performed songs from her wonderful new CD, tracked here at the studio, but she featured a showing of the video for the song Tending Angels.

The video highlights the plight of the homeless in Nashville and the nation while telling the story of Sherry’s encounters of working with homeless on a daily basis at her first appointment as pastor of West Nashville United Methodist Church.

Cothran is an award-winning singer/songwriter and United Methodist minister, former member of Downtown Presbyterian Church during her days as the lead singer for the popular rock band, The Evinrudes. The film was directed by Tracy Facelli and funded by one of the Lilly Foundation’s Louisville Institute Grants.

For more about Sherry go to her website

To listen to tracks from this CD, go to this page

 

 

2015 was a lot of fun in the studio. Although several smaller projects were completed this year, these three CD projects were capstone events at Jonymac Studio. All three projects were utterly different, presenting unique challenges for tracking, recording, mixing, and mastering. Although Sherry Cothran’s is still in the final stages of mixing and mastering, I’m mentioning it here because it captured a wonderful space in the studio “process” this year.

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First, John Nelson (aka “The Rev”) came down again from Provincetown, Massachusetts with another great batch of songs. Our workflow was much improved this time around, and he hired the usual suspects for a first rate album project: Stuart Duncan on fiddle, Adam Steffey on mandolin, Randy Kohrs on resonator and electric slide guitar, and he flew Mark Hill in from New Jersey for electric guitar tracks. Andy Hull provided his usual outstanding drum and percussion work. We switched vocal microphones on him, tracking him with the Miktek CV4, a nice tube condenser mic, and switched preamps to the Focusrite ISA 430 mkII. We both agreed that this combination really helped his voice pop out of the mix.  Take a listen: The Rev, We Are Family.

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During the summer, Sherry Cothran began tracking her new project, funded by the a Louisville Institute Pastoral Study Grant. A theologian, pastor, songwriter and performer, Sherry put all of her gifts together beautifully with a collection of songs that capture the essence of several religious traditions of “wisdom literature.” The idea behind this CD was to use acoustic instruments in a minimalist way to create a light, spacious soundscape for Sherry’s voice. I focused on using very transparent preamps during the tracking of percussion and acoustic bass. Jeff Roach tracked and sent in digital files for synth-cello and keyboard tracks, and Conni Ellisor also tracked acoustic piano tracks at her home studio and sent them along. Toughest to track was Sherry’s acoustic guitar. While a lovely instrument, is is very forward in the midrange, and doesn’t sport the kind of large, open sound that might have been nice for this CD. It takes some mixing work to get it right! Luis Espaillat was tremendous on the bass, and Andy Hull was amazing, as usual, on drums and percussion. One of the finest tracks on the CD is a track co-written with Peter Mayer (of Jimmy Buffett’s band) entitled “Still.” His guitar work on that cut is worth the price of this CD alone. The artwork is done – and beautiful. A first printing of the CD mixed by me was pressed for a CD party in November in Louisville. A final mixdown is underway, under the skillful hand of expert Dave Schober.

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Perhaps the most fun of all was the experience tracking Mundo Brew, a Brazilian style Americana group from Louisville, KY. The songs written by band leader Chris Elwood are full of wonderful Latin American jazz chords and changes. The fun, in this case, was the “old school” dynamic of completely tracking the entire CD in a four-day “live-in” experience. Chris (vocals and guitar) and Brad Wigger (percussion) lived at the house. Chris’ daughters, Isabelle and Josephine, drove down the final two days and stayed at a nearby hotel, tracking backup vocals. Likewise, Doug Yeager drove down to track flute and saxophone, and Burns Stanfield flew in from Massachusetts for a day and a half to track keyboards and trumpet. What a whirlwind! We worked late hours, and caught a wonderful “live” groove that gives the whole CD a lot of energy and spontaneity. Most of the CD was tracked in my large room, with a few gobos placed strategically. We let the room sound work for us, and it provided a nice glue for the mix. Take a listen: Mundo Brew: Love Force

Loved tracking I. C. Will’s great CD, Sorry Been Busy, and I’m thrilled to see its success. Hope he’ll pop down from NYC and record again sometime. Here’s the video: