The Making Of A CD/Album – Part 3
The continuing story which follows the making of album“Jump Into de FiYa!!!!”
(See bottom of blog for links to Parts 1 and 2)
December 4th 2016 recording session at Ian Shaw's Warmfuzz Studio, for the current three songs in the hopper, was nothing short of superb.
The concentration was on two songs, Dockside Bar and 21st Century Girl, which actually wasn't my plan at all. The plan had been to get “Yeah, A Harbour” further down the road. However, the plan for that was sidelined when fate intervened.
For starters, our band,The Shanty Hounds, had played at Grunts Bar the previous Thursday, December 1st.
(Illustration by Dani Hoy)
Two years ago, Dani Hoy, Bobby DeVito, and myself co-wrote a Christmas song “Happy Merry Christmas From Key West”. We decided to do the song for the first time this holiday season at the gig. Bobby was in Chicago, so as a prank I called him on the phone, laid the phone down when it started ringing, and we kicked into the song. When we were done I picked the phone up and realized that, although it was still connected to Bobby's phone, it was on message. The thing apparently doesn't have a time limit! Who knew?
On Friday, Dani bumped into our friend Terri, who told her Bobby and his girlfriend Chrisie were in town!
During this time my friend Bruce sent me a text to say he was coming down from Miami.
A bit of background on both of these characters. BruceTurkel and I have been friends for around twenty years, or so. Way back then, he had been taking harmonica lessons from a mutual friend, David Leicht. David suggested to me that Bruce and I would make a good musical pairing. We got together and played a lot and in doing so, became fabulous friends.
This was in my Miami/Dade years, and we played as a duo around Coconut Grove, and southern Miami/Dade County for several years. In 2000 I was fortunate enough to get published in Nashville and Bruce suggested that we start a band to showcase my songwriting. We started a Blues band, “Chris Rehm and The Rabble Rousers”. We had a blast with it! A boatload of talented, fun people passed through that band, which disbanded in 2008 when I moved down to Key West.
Chris Rehm and The Rabble Rousers at Tobacco Road, Miami
About a year before I moved here, Bruce and his marvelous wife, Gloria, bought a second home here in the Keys, so it's been easy to stay in touch with them, as they're down fairly often. Bruce would often sit in wherever I was playing when he was down, as well. I wanted to have him on my first album. However, Bruce is a very busy guy and is often flying around the world in business. Regretfully, the timing didn't work out.
With Bobby DeVito, I originally had heard a lot about him from our mutual friend, Gary Ek. When we met, it was instantaneous. We got along as though we knew each other for years. That was 2009. Since then Bobby's been a roommate twice, and a house guest numerous times over the years. He also played on eight songs on my album “Shanghai'd And Marooned In Key West (things could be worse)”.
Way back, Bobby and I had a duo. “The Offending Culprits” , which Bruce sat in with a few times at Captain Tony's
With that as a backdrop and the stage set, lets move to the time at the moment in question here.
So, all of the sudden, it turns out that both Bruce and Bobby are in town again for the weekend! For me, there's no question about it. They have to be on the album.
I called Ian Shaw, the producer and engineer, who fortunately had an open afternoon at Warmfuzz Studio!
We first recorded Bruce on the song “Dockside Bar”, a song I wrote in 2006 about the things I saw in various bars on the water, in the Keys.
Although I wrote it in 2006, we never played it. Bruce had only heard the song once or twice from the recording we had already had and that was on Saturday, the day before the recording.
The song itself is in the key of G, although parts of it wander into G's relative minor, Em. Bruce actually would switch between harps (slang for harmonicas) during the recording! Amazing!
(Sorry, the song Bruce is playing is only audible through the headphones in this part)
When Bruce put a track down, Ian would ask Bruce for something a little different, maybe a little behind the beat in one part, or right on it in another. Other times, he asked for something more assertive. Bruce delivered every time. He obviously has a lot of studio time under his belt. He was just incredible!
Bruce Turkel at Warmfuzz Studio, KW
Before he was finished, I asked him to put a drone-type harmonica at the very beginning of “Yeah, A Harbor”. The song is in the key of E, but his E harmonica started at too high a note than I was looking for.
Ian to the rescue! “Do you have a G harp? I can change the pitch to E”
Listening to Bruce play the G against the solo guitar in E was like hearing cats fight, or fingernails on the blackboard, it was the worst! However, when Ian played it back, everything was in the key of E and sounded perfect! Ian then had him do it again, this time with a bit of a warble to the drone. Turned out great!
Bruce was done for the day, I thanked him, and he was off to Miami. We were disappointed because he had to go back, and hence, couldn;t play Grunts with the Shanty Hounds that evening. One of these days!
Next up was Bobby D. Now Bobby has played in studios for over thirty years. He knows his way around the block like he knows the back of his hand. Sunday, December 4th was no exception to that rule.
The song 21st Century Girl, was a bit of an enigma for me, speaking honestly. I knew the feel I wanted. The song played on my guitar parts, is an up stroke rhythm, in a certain type of Cajun rhythm. I wasn't sure what to add to this. My initial thought was an accordion.
Ian heard something different however. While we both heard the Cajun part, Ian was thinking of something more along the lines of Eric Clapton's “Lay Down Sally”, which in turn had a big J.J. Cale influence.
Bobby came over to my house, just before we headed to the studio. He listened to the song for the first time and said “I'm thinking something like a Mick Taylor era 'Stones feel, in a way”
Well he played it that way on his first take. It sounded fantastic! Ian however mentioned the Lay Down Sally feel, and Bobby said “No problem” and went right for it.
The song is actually quite faster than Lay Down Sally and has a lot more energy. Lay Down Sally is a laid back song, while 21st Century Girl is get up and go. Ian of course realized this from the start, long before anything Bobby added took place. However, in conveying that to Bobby, and Bobby just falling in with it, produced something magical!
Bobby DeVito laying tracks at Warmfuzz Studios KW
To start with, Ian set up the guitar amp and effects for the tone he was looking for, while Bobby went for the position 4 pickup option on the Stratocaster. There were naturally some adjustments and accents locked into for the electric rhythm tracks. Ian saying “Give me a little more accent here”, or “I'm thinking something a bit different than what you're doing, maybe like on the beat, and some Bah Bah Bah! In this part” Bobby would then say “Oh! I have something for you!” and depending the part, would give him exactly what he was looking for, or if it wasn't a specific request, throw something entirely different at a specific part, and Ian would give a big thumbs up!
After the first electric guitar track was added, Ian adjusted the tone of the guitar and the same process was repeated on the lead guitar track.
With 21st Century Girl, I now have a better idea of where to go with the recording from here. With the quicker tempo, the song doesn't sound like Lay Down Sally at all, but that was Ian's intent. This song now has a better Musical identity and definition. It... ROCKS!
At the end of two and a half hours, we were done. Turned out fantastic. It's truly an honor to be working with these guys!
Lets see where the next stage takes us! We still have a ways to go on all three of these songs, but the light is at the end of the tunnel!
I hope you're enjoying this series!
If you'd like to help with the production of these songs, pick up some of my other music! The proceeds are going directly back to financing this recording! Thank you in advance for doing so!
Amazon (song “Island Blue”)
Also, please check out my book “Bar Stories”. It's a fun book about various bar situations I've seen, witnessed, or participated in over the decades. If you're looking for a depressing book, you're in the wrong place!
This book is FUN! Additionally, purchasing this book also is helping me write the three other books I am currently working on: “The Absolute Best Bars in the Florida Keys”, “Living On A Tropical Island” (also known at this point as “Island Living”), and “Time Traveler”. Bar Stories is only:
Links to Parts 1 and 2
The Making of a CD/Album Part 1
The Making of a CD/Album Part 2