Friday, June 29, 2007

A week with Alizé

Good morning,

Again it's been too long since I blogged but man have I been busy! I spent this week immersed in French traditional music with a local trio called Alizé. They are Laurie Hart on fiddle, nyckelharpa and hurdy gurdy, Julia Lapp on guitar and Gordon Bonnet on flutes and whistles. These guys have done all their work on this project here at Wilburland. We have Laurie and Gordon in cubbies in the big room and Julia in the control room with me for isolation. We have almost completed all the recording it its all sounding really good!

I love recording music that I have not heard before, especially when it involves cool and interesting instruments like the nyckelharpa and hurdy gurdy!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My weekend with the HorseFlies

Well, well, well, I have so much to tell you! As if my week with Jana Losey and Melanie Peters wasn't enough fun, on Friday I started setting up for a weekend of recording with my all time favorite band The HorseFlies!

The Flies have been together for several decades, starting as a quirky old time fiddle band, and evolving through and alt rock sound, releasing records on major labels and touring with the likes of 10,000 Maniacs. The core of the HorseFlies are fiddler Judy Hyman, banjo player Richie Stearns, banjo/uke man Jeff Claus and rhythm meister Taki Masuko on percussion. They are currently rounded out by Plastic Nebraska's Rick Hansen and Jay Olsa on accordion/keys and bass. There music is indescribable, though many have tried...

The HorseFlies music is all about pocket and groove, and so recording as an ensemble is a natural way to approach the capture of basic tracks. They also like to experiment with sounds alot so isolation between the instruments is critical as well. The secret to achieving this balance at Wilburland (with no isolation booths) is all about mic placement and baffles. The environment around each instrument is carefully treated to avoid reflecting unwanted sounds into the mics. Each mic is positioned not only to capture the desired instrument but also to reject unwanted sounds. Amplifiers are placed downstairs and special cables and line amps are used to drive the instrument signals downstairs without signal loss. The two devices we use were the Little Labs Mercenary Audio STD and a Pendulum Audio MDP1 mic preamp/DI. The Pendulum was especially crucial in dealing with the hi impedance needs of the piezo doorbell that Richie used for a banjo pickup! Judy setup in the control room with me to get the needed isolation for the fiddle.

Once setup was complete and sounds were crafted, the band did what they do, running through takes and and then assessing the performances. Again, the focus was often on the groove and movement of the music. Did it sound too weighty? Did it float? How did it move? How did the backbeat feel? Intense discussion of rhythm, pocket and tempo. It was an amazing process to be part of, and the result of the weekend was 4 more amazing sounding basic tracks.

All this goes back the The Gray House, Jeff and Judy's home studio for overdubbing and premixing. They have a really nice ProTools HD system and a sweet collection of select mics and preamps that deliver the sounds they like.

We plan to mix at Wilburland in August. I can't wait! This will be an awesome CD folks. Well worth the wait.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Jana Losey

Hi There!

It's been a busy week and I haven't been able to sit down and write in this blog. Here is what I've been up to.
On Monday I finished up mixes for singer/songwriter Burt Myers. On Tuesday I did mix touchups for a fun band called The Talk To Mes, which features Gregor Sayet-Bone on guitar and vocals, and Sim Redmond from SRB on bass. These guys did their recording in various places and brought the tracks here to Wilburland to mix. Sound familiar? On Wednesday I did mixes for a nice a Capella group from Elmira College called the Chiclettes, who recorded all live here at Wilburland and sound terrific. Thursday I did final mastering for a band called Hadlock who have done almost all of their recording here at Wilburland except some electric guitar. You can definitely hear the difference when most or all of the tracks were recorded here.

Today, and for alot of this month I'll me working with songstress Jana Losey and her partner Melanie Peters. Jana has a lot of experience out there in the music world, having been in a cool group called Squonk Opera for many years, which included a long run on Broadway. She has involved me and Wilburland from the beginning of this project and it shows. She and Mel brought in their band and did basic tracks live here, utilizing the my great sounding room, many great microphones, individual headphone mixers, not to mention, well, me! We got a a bunch of sweet sounding tracks, that sound like a great band because they were! Jana and Mel consulted with me about a ProTools setup, came in for a few ProTools 101 tutoring classes, and then they were able to take the tracks home and decide which takes were best and figure out what piece we wanted to edit together without the pressure of the clock ticking away.

Once the basic tracks were assembled we got together again and I helped them set up their ProTools sessions to record midi tracks of the piano parts for the project. This they could easily do at home and they took their time getting the piano performances just right. Then we can play their midi tracks through Reason Pianos here at Wilburland and have the flexibility of choosing just the right piano sound for each song as we mix.

Today we will do lead vocals and maybe harmonies. Over the next few weeks we will overdub move vocals, perhaps some guitar and percussion, and then settle down to mix. It will be a good few weeks for sure!

Friday, June 1, 2007

Ithaca Festival Weekend!

Well good morning to you all! This weekend is a very busy weekend for me as a live sound guy. Most of my mixing efforts will center around the 2 night performance of The Sim Redmond Band, for whom I've been mixing live for over 5 years! They have also brought their last few recordings to Wilburland to mix, and I personally did the last one, Each New Day. If you have never heard the band, I have often described their gentle percolating sound and lush harmonies and "a big warm hug from a dear friend". These 2 shows are a CD release party for their new live CD recorded at the Grassroots Festival. They are playing at Castaways in Ithaca, with 2 other local bands that are no strangers to Wilburland, IY on Friday and Five2 on Saturday, featuring former SRB member Uniit! The Castaways shows start at 10pm.

As if that wasn't enough, I will also be mixing for my friend Boy With A Fish on the Ithaca Commons at 7:30, featuring Jeff Claus and Judy Hyman from the HorseFlies, Rick Hansen and Jay Olsa from Plastic Nebraska and Ryan Cady on drums. Guaranteed to be a great show.

So come on out and see some great Ithaca music this weekend!