Posts Tagged ‘Music’

Kim McLean is an amazing, accomplished singer songwriter with credits on albums by Tim McGraw, Trisha Yearwood, and Lee Ann Womack. But she is an incredible performer in her own right and her new EP is a mesmerizing journey into her own life via her seasoned writing and performing talent. We went for a live feel as we recorded this EP in the studio, and it payed off. I wanted to feature her vocals above (literally floating above) the band – so that her voice and the lyrics are felt and heard. The emotion in her voice is everything on this EP, and it can bring you to tears if you’re not prepared.   7m7a4640-edit

A release date hasn’t been announced for the EP, but here’s a sneak preview of one of my favorites on the album on my private SoundCloud account.

After a series of great tracking and mixing sessions, the Flat River Band released its EP and video for their new album titled Every Dog Has Its Day.  Here’s a link to the video for the title song.

When you hear the songs, you can tell that they harmonize like only family can! In the studio, I wanted to catch the spontaneity and energy that they get during live performances so we recorded the vocals all at the same time instead of overdubbing. The feel is great! The review on Billboard.com was great. Thanks for the shout-out to the studio!

Here’s a live performance of the song:

 

Check out the entire album on YouTube (or your favorite streaming service)!

 

 

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 is available on iTunes, Spotify, Napster, and YouTube. To hear the album on YouTube 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!

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!

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.

The fact is that many artists are unaware of the amount of time it takes, beyond tracking time, to get a project mixed and finished – even if it’s just vocals and guitar, or a few tracks of audio. Tracks have to be cleaned (gated or “stripped” of noise between clips of audio), de-essed, de-breathed (fixing loud breaths), equalized, sometimes compressed, automated as needed (louder in some spots, softer in others), run to busses, etc. etc. And even if a song is recorded in series with nothing changed, all of this has to be done differently for each song. In other words, a separate file has to be created for each song – and all of these steps done for each song. All of this adds up to TIME.

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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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