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Friday, August 26, 2016

The Making Of A CD/Album - Part 1

The Making Of A CD/Album

What a day in the studio! Recording is work. Many just think it's like a live gig and you just go in and play the song, then go home. Truth be known, it's actually quite a tedious experience. Today we focused on the rhythm section for three songs, “Dockside Bar”, Yeah, A Harbor” and “21st Century Kinda Girl”. The rhythm section is the bass and drums.

We worked on the arrangements on the songs last week. I had the basic arrangements done, however the producer, Ian Shaw, came up with modifications and adjustments for them all. Ian's input was exactly what the songs needed.

On “Yeah, A Harbor” he had us repeat the chorus at an additional point, then also moved the bridge of the song to after that chorus, where it previously had been after a verse.

On “Dockside Bar”, Ian had us add stops to a few points, which completely added a whole new feel and accent that the song had been lacking. In addition, he felt the second verse was a little long in the tooth. However, it was the exact same structure as the first. As a writer, I naturally raised an eyebrow when he first mentioned it. After all, here he was cutting out a piece of my creation.

We have to add a little note here regarding Ian. Ian Shaw is a world class producer who moved to Key West from London, England a few years ago. He maintains a flat in London and bounces back and forth periodically recording in both locations. He's been a record producer for over thirty years, and has a checkered history to go along with it. He's recorded virtually every type of music in the western world, save for an orchestra. He really knows what he's doing.

                        Ian Shaw - Picture by Ralph De Palma

           Ian Shaw (standing) working with engineer Drew Gunning
                                 Picture bt Ralph De Palma

           Ian Shaw recorded the vocals for Dani Hoy's newest release
                                  At The End Of A Long Road

So, before my eyebrow was fully raised, I stopped myself to listen to what he suggested. After all, he knows miles and miles more about this process than I do.

The first thing I realized was that the verse he was suggesting to eliminate, really wasn't needed to begin with. What it was saying was redundant. Coming in with the verse he suggested, made complete sense. Off with the old and on with the new!

Throughout the rehearsal, bassist Robert “Bob” Tucker added immensely, along with drummer John Sausser. It was great watching them work out so that they complement each other, working out who does what, so that they complement each other and weave in and out their respective lines that together work out the rhythm section. Ian would say what he was looking for in a particular section, Bob and John would work it out, not to mention adding suggestions of their own.

Going into the studio today. It takes a very different talent  doing studio work than playing live. It's not often that a great live performer is a great studio musician, and visa versa. Doing studio work is a different ballgame all together.  Playing live is more like driving a Ferrari on a race track, whereas studio work is more like driving a tractor hoeing a field. It's a very different discipline. Nashville, for instance, I recall hearing years back, has a pool of around 28 musicians they pull from to do a recording. That's guitar players, keyboardists, bass players, and pedal steel players. 28 total, and they played on every Nashville cut on the radio. About a year ago there was a great movie out called "The Wrecking Crew" about a small group of musicians who were on so many hit songs, I couldn't begin to count. The Beach Boys wanted to cut their own tracks, but after hearing The Wrecking Crew, they backed off. It's a verry different talent, as I say.

Ian chose The Ramble Room Studios, on Eaton Street, here in Key West. The Ramble Room has been open for around a year, maybe a bit more, I'm guessing? I had not been there as of yet, nor had I seen any pictures of it either.

I have to say the studio is very comfortable to work in. Sofas, a bar to work on (no, sorry folks, no alcohol!) a drum booth with a very nice Yamaha kit, the main room, recording booth, all in easy access, plus, even a baby grand piano, donated by our friend Adrienne Z, for safe keeping. It's a very nice facility indeed!

With the studio came Drew Gunning, the engineer. Drew did a fantastic job all day and I need to say not only was he great to work with from an artists standpoint, but also he worked like clockwork with Ian.

I asked Ian what song we should start off with. His answer was “Whichever one you feel most comfortable with”. As Bob and I had been doing “Dockside Bar” live a couple of times, and it seemed to go well, I picked that one.

When we went through the first take, I felt that although it wasn't perfect, we would have this completed in a half hour. Ian however had different ideas on how the drums should be accenting the song in various different parts throughout the song. He would come out of the booth and say what he wanted in this part, or that.

In addition, throughout the entire session, if any of us were ahead, or behind the beat, he's make a note to us and we'd do it again. Likewise, if he wanted us to lay back, or be right on top of the beat, he's tell us. And we'd do it again.

A lot of all of this happened over the day, on all three songs, but funny enough, mostly on the first, which we felt we knew the best!

The next song “A Harbor” went a bit quicker, but not by much. I had a bit of trouble with the timing in a part of it and Ian came out and gave me a hand by actually directing! It worked!

Finally, we recorded the last song “21st Century Kinda Girl”. This song I think we only did three or four takes and we were done. All totaled, we went from 11am to 4pm and laid down the rhythm tracks.

So again, the vocal tracks and guitar tracks that I did today will not be used. We call them “Scratch Tracks”. What they do is keep the song in structure for the bass and drums. Ian will take those tracks, edit and them. For instance, He may like Bob's first verse bass line on Dockside Bar's for that verse, but he might like his forth take on the song's second verse. On the chorus of the song, he might take part of one take and stick in another take's for the other part.

He'll do the same with the drums. Mixing and matching the best from the entire session. This is part of what will happen with every instrument as it's recorded.

Right now we have the bass and drums. When Ian is finished editing that, I'll go back in the studio and add my guitar and vocal. After that we'll add additional vocals and instrumentation. I'll keep you posted as we progress, so that you see the process in action.

I hope you'll enjoy it!

Hey Look!!!!  Dani Hoy and Terri Wlaschin!

For additional pictures, videos and stories, be sure to check out the Facebook page:

Also, if you'd like to help out with making the album, it's very easy, just buy the songs as they come out! The first one, Island Blue, already is out! My friend Misty Loggins sings it and Dani Hoy sings background vocals!

Here are the links for Island Blue. It's less than a dollar. The proceeds go to recording the next songs! For you, the consumer, it costs less to buy the album this way, plus you get them as they come out! Why wait for the album to be done? It actually costs less for you to do it this way!

Thanks for reading the blog and for those of you who purchase the son a very big THANK YOU!!!

All the Best From Key West!

Key West Chris Rehm

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