Monday, December 1, 2008

The Flies Are Back!

I did 2 HorseFlies gigs recently and wow. Just wow. Thursday 11/20 they played at The Corning Museum of Glass, and Saturday 11/22 at the wonderful Elk Creek Cafe in Millheim, PA.

The Corning gig was a hi tech extravaganza with a full light and video show. I got to mix the band on a new Yamaha digital console. But better than all that The HorseFlies played a great set.

But that was apparently just a set up for the stunning performance they did on Saturday night at the Elk Creek Cafe in Millheim, PA. The Elk Creek Cafe is a very cool cafe and micro-brewery kinda in the middle of nowhere, 25 miles from State College. The drive there was nice, the food delicious, and we stayed in a nice bed and breakfast. All really nice. BUT, the Flies freakin rocked! The room was sold out with folks young and old moving and churning to the HorseFlies grooves, and the band rallied, burning through fiddle/banjo grooves driven by Jeff's relentless uke, Taki's percolating world rhythms, Ricks pumping accordion and smoothly supported by Jay's awesome bass lines. Holy crap you guys! DO NOT MISS THE HORSEFLIES AT CASTAWAYS ON SAT DEC 13! THIS BAND IS ON FIRE!

Martin Simpson In Concert

On Friday 11/21 I has the supreme pleasure of seeing my dear friend Martin Simpson play at the Unitarian church here in Ithaca. I will tell you straight up that if you were not there, you blew it. He was stunning.

I first met Martin in the early 90s when he was living here in Ithaca. He came to Wilburland to record a CD called When I Was On Horseback, which included the talents of cellist Hank Roberts, violinist Eric Aceto and bassist Doug Robinson. One of the best recording I've done. I also did another more blues oriented CD with him called Smoke and Mirrors.

The show was classic Martin Simpson. He played a perfect combination of instrumental fingerstyle, slide and vocal tunes, intermixed with wonderful stories. Martin was a stunning player when I met him and he has gotten even better. An amazing evening was had by all.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rock Happens!

Busy busy.

Wow, uh, ok, WAY too long since my last post. Here's what I've been up to.
I am continuing work with Pamela Goddard on what is turning out to be a wonderful follow up to her first CD "As Time Draws Near". Joining her are the sweet voices of Glass Of Water, fiddle and guitar from Kitchen Chair and other vocals from Jim Blake and even a cut with Diamonds In The Rough.

In contrast, the recent theme at Wilburland has been ROCK GUITARS! The Rochester band Hadlock has brought me tracks recorded in LA by Bob Kulick (know for his with with Kiss, etc) to finish recording and mix. Singer/guiratist Kris Hadlock has come down a a few sessions to record better lead vocal performances. Guitarist Richie Roccisano is replacing all the guitar leads in his home studio in Interkaken and then I get to mix it all! Yee Ha!

Richie's brother Michael has a cool heavy band called Seventh Son who recorded with Richie and brought the tracks for me to mix. The song Gone Forever came out great and can currently be heard on their myspace site (and mine) and on Sirrius Radio. I'll me mixing a few more for them soon.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Recording Mignarda

Yesterday at Wilburland I had the supreme pleasure of spending the day with Ron Andrico and Donna Stewart of the duo Mignarda. They are wonderful folks and fine musicians, and we recorded a song with lute and voice. For those of you who don't know what a lute is, it is a guitarish looking stringed instrument with a deep round back and a sharply angled headstock. It is often associated with music from the early renaissance to late baroque periods. These folks have got an amazing thing going on. Ron plays with great dynamics and finesse and Donna's voice sounds, well, perfect!

We recorded the lute and voice together in one room hoping to record not only a natural sound but also to capture the natural dynamics of 2 people playing together, the connection that happens with two people in the same space. The challenge of course was to get the right balance of blend and separation between the two. I had Ron and Donna sit facing each other about 15 feet apart so they could see each other, but also so that the mics were facing away from the undesired sound, ie lute mics facing the lute and 180 degrees away from the voice. Of course in a reverberant space like Wilburland, which I made even more live by rolling up the rugs, there is both lute and voice reverberating in the room and a bit of this leaked into each mic helping to blend the 2 sounds on the recording. I initially had a tad more of Donna's voice in the lute mics than I wanted so I created a non reflecting wall behind Ron to stop her voice from bouncing off the wall behind and into the lute mic. Perfect!

For the lute I chose 2 old Neumann KM86 mics in a stereo configuration about 5 feet away from the instrument, and I miked Donna with a Klaus Heyne modified Neumann U87 about 18" away and slightly above her. All the mics went through Pendulum Audio MDP-1 tube mic preamps which I chose for their balance of articulation and richness. The resultant recording was just what we hoped for. I can't wait for you to hear it!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mixing Big Leg Emma, Food Clothes and Shelter and The Sim Redmond Band

Thursday night I went to the Rochester Armory to mix a favorite band of mine Big Leg Emma. I've been mixing these Jamestown roots rockers off and on now for several years and I had the pleasure of recording and producing a wonderful CD for them called The Color Of Wind several years back. They opened to another band of old friends Rusted Root who I worked with for several years in the mid 90s. It was really sweet to see Patrick, Michael and Liz after many years and of course Big Leg Emma rocked the house with their usual positive driving style.

Then I was back in Rochester at the Water Street Music Hall for a classic ITown event with ITown founder Kevin KinsellaThe Sim Redmond Band. In case you haven't heard yet, Kevin knows how to put together a band and Food Clothes and Shelter just gets better each time I see them. and his kickin new band Food Clothes and Shelter, opening for Ithaca favorites

I do love mixing the The Sim Redmond Band, for all the reasons you all love to see them. Sweet folks making sweet music. Their positive vibe is totally infectious. Gentle afro/reggae grooves that just make you feel good and I get the same feeling when I mix them. They played a strong set mixing old and new songs to a full house. It's amazing how many people in the audience were singing along as they danced. That's love for ya!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Working with Littlewheel

On wednesday at Wilburland I had the pleasure of doing a session with Art Godin and Joanna Green of the acoustic duo Littlewheel. These two play a kind of down home jazzy sort of music with thoughtful progressive lyrics played with acoustic guitar, fiddle and 2 wonderful voices. This session's agenda was to record basic guitar and vocal tracks for 2 songs. Their intention was to be able to add percussion and bass at a later time so playing to click track was essential to maintain a steady tempo to make the overdubs easier. Art came in a with nice preamp/EQ for his acoustic/electric guitar which we recorded through a Pendulum MDP-1 tube preamp, just the guitar and the click. We recorded the song on guitar 3 times beginning to end and then made a composite take of the best bits of the three. This is a very natural and intuitive way to get a really nice final take while maintaining the flow and emotion of the song. Then Art and Joanna recorded the vocals together using Neumann U87s through and Avalon 2022 mic preamp and a UREI 1178 compressor to help manage the transients. They sang the song twice and we again made a composite take of what parts best conveyed the emotion of the lyrics.
What we ended up with were 2 really solid and natural sounding basic tracks for them to build on. I will probably stop by their home recording setup soon to assess and advise them on how to do some of the overdubs on their own equipment. When all the tracks are recorded, we will mix them all here at Wilburland.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I just wanted to tell you all that I now have a regular spot on where I will will be writing about what I'm doing at Wilburland, who I'm mixing live and adding tidbits of recording wisdom for all you home recording enthusiasts. Check it out!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Mixing The Pines at Castaways


What an amazing night! My friend Richie Stearns who plays with The HorseFlies called me up this week and asked me if I could please do sound for a band he was opening for at a local club called Castaways. He told me they were called The Pines and that they had played at another club a year ago and he fell in love with them. Now I know why.

The best description of them can be found on their website: "Composed of Iowa natives David Huckfelt and Benson Ramsey, The Pines combine roots, blues and indie-rock to create a raw, haunting sound that is inventive and compelling."

They played 2 amazing sets, each time playing for awhile and then inviting Richie to join them and the combination was perfect. I will remember this performance for a long time.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

back from dance camp

So I'm back in the studio after 2 blissful weeks at DNE dance camp in Poland Spring, Maine. My family is part of a group called Dance New England. Each year 450 folks form a kind of intentional community focusing on a common love dance. As you can imagine, where there is dance, there is MUSIC!
At dance camp I get exposed to a lot of music that I don't often see at Wilburland. Each evening at camp there is a big freestyle dance, with excellent DJs from various major New England cities spinning amazing dance and club tunes. Some of the stuff they play is pretty awesome and they can spin a room full of dancers into a frenzy or lay them on the floor depending on how and when they play various tunes. A good DJ will "read the floor" and really tune  into the dancers, and they in turn feed the becomes a big symbiotic relationship and is cool to watch.
Well that's all for now. More soon!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Grassroots is here!

So begins the 18th annual FingerLakes Grassroots festival! I love working at this festival for so many reasons. It is a gathering of so many wonderful musician and other folks, all together to celebrate music. Amazing bands from all over the world mixed with our own incredible local talent, playing for 10000 music fans of all ages, colors, nationalities. The energy at this festival is organic and positive, like no other I've been to. if you haven't been, now is the time to go.

I also love the work part of this gig. I get to work with a team of both enthusiastic volunteers and seasoned pros, and we lock together and do amazing things. It is teamwork at it's finest and I love it!

I'll be mixing a lot at the Grandstand stage, and wherever The Horse Flies and the Sim Redmond Band are playing. Come say hi!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Recording lute


One of my favorite things is recording rare or interesting instruments. A week ago I had the opportunity to record Ron Andrico of Mignarda playing an old guitar like instrument called the lute. It sounds sort of like a classical guitar, only the sound is much more complex due to the fact that the lute has many courses of strings while the guitar has 2 single strings.

I approached the lute recording in a classical style, incorporating the room sound as part of the recording. Usually I would use Earthworks QTC1 omnidirectional mics but for our application we found them to be too noisy so we instead used two Neumann KM86 mics in figure 8, through a Pendulum tube mic pre. The sound was wonderful...

Friday, March 7, 2008

Recording The Sim Redmond Band

This past weekend I had the wonderful, long awaited opportunity to record basic track for The Sim Redmond Band! I've been mixing these guys live for many years, and I mixed a recent CD called "Each New Day", but I've always wanted to setup and do basic tracks with this band.

So we set up in the usual Wilburland fashion, where vibe and energy rule over technical things. The band wanted to setup in a circle so they could feed off each other and boy was it the right thing to do. We got great sounds and with the positive vibe in the room we got 2 day of really sweet tracks! I can alway tell which Wilburland projects are going to be winners by how things sound while tracking. SRB sounded like a finished CD while they were tracking. They are onto something special with this CD.

Like many bands these days they will take the tracks we layed down together home and overdub additional parts and vocals and then bring it all back to be here at Wilburland to mix. I can't wait!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dance Flurry 2008


This past weekend I worked at the Dance Flurry in Saratoga Springs. On this weekend in the dead cold of February 4000 dancers descend on the downtown City Center where there are 10 simultaneous dances in various conference rooms and local theatres. It is quite a scene.

I mixed the main hall where there is mostly contra dancing. I mixed acoustic rhythm bands through a D&B line array system for up to 700 dancers! For you tech geeks I was mixing on a Midas Heritage 1000 console.

The bands I mixed were extraordinary! Nightingale, Tidal Wave, Big Bandemonium, Notorious, and Laurie Hart were the some of the bands I mixed.

I had a blast!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Live music


Last week I had a potent reminder of the power of a live musical performance. On Monday I traveled to the German House in Rochester to see my longtime hero Todd Rundgren. I've seen Todd many times in many different band configurations and thay all have been great. Last Monday was no exception. Prairie Prince on drums, Kasim Sulton on bass, Jesse Gress and Todd on guitar. The show was a rock show, with deep and wonderful picks from the back catalog. A totally great show.

Last Wednesday I saw another longtime hero Richard Thompson, playing with songstress Judith Owen and percussionist Debra Dobkin doing "1000 Years of Popular Music at the State Theatre. Richard is always great, and his accomplices were terrific as well. After these 2 shows I was feeling like I'd had a pretty special week.

On Friday I mixed the Sim Redmond Band playing at the State Theatre for a "Barack The Vote" event. SRB's positive energy was the perfect match for the hopful vibe in the crown and they played really well. I love mixing this band!

As if that was not enough, Saturday night I went to see Ani DiFranco, also at the State Theatre. Ani and her band, that included drummer Allison Miller (with whom I went to Telluride with the Horseflies in 2003) was perfect for a very mature performance of great songs.

So it's the following week and I'm kind of floating in a post concert bliss. Live music is a truly powerful thing, capable of transforming our lives in positive ways.