Archive for the ‘Recent Projects’ Category

So, living in Nashville is pretty amazing if you have a studio. Great musicians are available all the time, you can rent gear from several outlets for reasonable prices, and the there are many world-class techs available to repair, renovate, or modify your gear when needed. On that last score, I have been self-modifying several of my microphones, soldering better capsules and capacitors into my Rode N2 and into a Studio Projects B3 large diaphragm microphone.

After using my Miktek CV4 for a couple of years, and basically loving it for most things, I found that I kept trying to equalize a little high end “zing” – evidently due to the way the capsule interacts with the tube electronics in the body of the mic. I read a Tape Op magazine article about a microphone tech in Nashville named Shannon Rhoades, a guy who used to actually work at MikTek, who could do a killer modification on the CV4. After listening to some digital files of the results he is able to achieve, I bit the bullet (literally – this was not cheap) and decided to go for it. I emailed him and then packed up my CV4 and drove it over to his house. When I walked in, I shuffled past a dog, and a guy coming out of the back workroom with a microphone modified for Martina McBride (I believe it was her, or maybe it was Shania Twain), and met Shannon in the workroom Here’s a little video from YouTube of an interview with Shannon in that room (scroll to about 5:45).

The room was full of microphones, all being modified and personalized for various country luminaries, and Shannon asked me a few questions about what I was looking for in the mic. He got the drift, I left, and he went to work. Two weeks later I returned, paid him through PayPal, picked up the microphone and put it into action recording the Flat River Band (a post to come about that later).

After nearly a year with the modified microphone, using it on vocals, acoustic guitar, acoustic bass, and as a room mic, I have to say that it was worth every penny. What was a really, really good $1600.00 tube condenser mic, was now close to a world-class microphone – the kind you’d pay 8 to 10 grand to use. It has that huge, larger than life, “suck you in sound”, with a silky high end, tight and controlled midrange, full and flowery low end that is really nice to have on most vocals and featured instruments. It reminds me a lot of a Telefunken C12, and for about 1/3 of the price. Check Shannon out at https://www.facebook.com/Micrehab/

John Wiley Nelson (a.k.a. “The Rev”) is a folk and bluegrass songwriter residing in Provincetown, Massachusetts. He was the manager of WOMR, the local public broadcasting station there form some years, and still acts as DJ for a regular bluegrass show. He has recorded several CDs here at Jonymac Studio. Over the years, he has focused more and more attention on hiring the finest award-winning musicians for his CDs: Stuart Duncan on fiddle, Adam Steffey on mandolin, Randy Kohrs on resonator (dobro), Ron Stewart on banjo, and most recently Kenny Smith on acoustic rhythm and lead guitars. He also brings in Kenny and Amanda Smith to produce and perform his vocals. Due to the busy schedules of all of these musicians, it is impossible to get them all together at one time to record. We have to multi-track, working around their schedules. Here’s the process:

  • The Rev records a rough vocal and rhythm guitar track to click for all songs (I accompany him on guitar)
  • The Rev creates an arrangement sheet, identifying clearly who plays rhythm, fills, or leads during each song.
  • Kenny Smith comes in and records a rhythm track for all songs, replacing my scratch guitar track.
  • Kenny then records any lead acoustic guitar work needed
  • I record an acoustic bass track
  • This improved rough mix is sent to:
    • Adam Steffey who records his mandolin tracks at his preferred studio (sometimes Ron Stewart’s Sleepy Valley Barn in Paoli, Indiana)
    • Randy Kohrs who records his resonator tracks at his studio (Slack Key Studios, Nashville, TN)
    • Ron Stewart records his tracks at his studio: Sleepy Valley Barn in Paoli, Indiana
  • These artists send their stems to me digitally to put into the mix
  • The Rev comes back into the studio and records his final vocal tracks
  • Kenny and Amanda come in to do background harmony vocals
  • Stuart Duncan comes in to the studio here and records his fiddle tracks which provide the “glue” on the CD.
  • The Rev and I do a good early mix for each song
  • I finish the mixing and mastering

Because of the quality of musicianship, this process works wonderfully.

One final thing that really helped this new CD. I’ve been less than happy with the basic sound palette when recording and mixing acoustic music such as bluegrass “in the box” in Logic (Pro Tools is not better), so I added an instantiation of Slate Virtual Mix Channel’s Neve console emulation on each bus, and on the Mixbus, and it made an amazing difference. I strongly recommend this! The sound is warmer, rounder, more listenable. The CD will be available on iTunes, Spotify, Napster, CD Baby, etc. soon. To hear a sneak preview, go here!

raalb01556550Credenda is a family band: see more here! Three siblings sing awesome harmonies, and the mother performs on keyboard. They came in and tracked a 6 song EP last summer, and we finished up the mixing in the fall. They released the project a few months ago. Kim Mclean produced the CD and brought in Andy Hull on drums, his son Evan Hull on electric guitar and bass, and Charlie Chamberlain on electric guitar and mandolin. The tracking sessions were very creative and spontaneous, and Mclean gave the artists a lot of room to experiment on each track. The results were beautiful. IMG_9103

We first tracked the drums, percussion, bass and rhythm guitars, along with a scratch vocal track. Because the energy between the siblings was so good on vocals, and I didn’t want to lose that, I recorded the vocals at the same time, after the rhythm and lead tracks were in place. That also gave me an opportunity to try out a couple of microphones I had recently hand-wired and modified, using parts from Micparts.com. I had done their Rode NT-2 modification with one of their RK-47 capsules on my old Rode NT-2 microphone, and their Studio Projects C3 modification on an old C3 I got on Ebay. I had also recently asked Shannon Rhodes do one of his incredible modifications on my MikTek CV-4 (more on that in another post soon!), and used that for the lead vocals. All three modifications took the vocals to a new level, and combined with the live three-part recording, the effect is great! Take a listen here!

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!

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!

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:

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