In The Studio
As always, we'd like to thank Rocky for hanging around and taking pictures for us while we attended to the business at hand. We thank her for her patience and understanding when things didn't go as planned and took longer than we'd originally thought as well...
We were very fortunate to have John Austin join us during our recording sessions to provide both mandolin and occasional vocals to our selected tracks. He added a lot to the final products and kept the music moving forward. It was nice to be able to include the larger "Blue Ridge Bakery Band" ensemble on our inaugural release!
As with most undertakings, the process proved to be slower-going than initially anticipated. The selection of material seemed to be every-changing and even those making the list initially changed in arrangement once we started rehearsing them. I don't think this is any different from any other performance undertaking as the songs often change with your mood - the trick is to identify the best "mood" for the song and stick to it! Easier said than done...
When we began selecting tunes we decided to put them into two separate categories: live recordings and "studio" recordings. The "live" recordings would be just that - those that we perform live at our regular performances (should that be in "quotes"?) while the "studio" recordings would be more "produced", allowing us to refine the tonal qualities and emotional "feel" to a greater degree. This seemed to work pretty well until we started to record the basic tracks of the tunes. We found that it is far easier to all play together at the same time than it is to try to overlay instruments over a basic track put down by one of the group members. The problem with recording together using microphones is that when a "less than desirable" accompaniment is made, the whole recording has to be redone. We made a compromise to overcome this by recording most of the instruments "direct", using acoustic pickups where necessary, so that individual instrument tracks could be repaired/re-recorded without effecting the other tracks. This proved to be a good approach once our engineer got all his patching straight...
The next hurdle became the arrangements of the tunes. It was those minor issues like the intros, where the instrumental breaks occured, which instruments would take the lead during the breaks and in what order, and the endings of the songs that often took the most time. These items also sparked dialog about the tunes themselves - what "feel" should they have, what is really being said and where is it leading the listener? There were several "lively" discussions on some and some very enlightening observations on others. I really enjoyed the ones that uncovered the personal attachments we each had to particular tunes as it reminded me how much of life is based on your own, personal perspective. Very often, this resulted in our changing the way we had done the songs in the past and resulted in a new, and hopefully better, rendering of the song for the future. I think we actually allowed ourselves to give a more personal rendition of some of our "standard" tunes and I'm truly hopeful that those emotions translate well in the recordings to be passed on to the listener...
That being said, we than had to address it inherent problem of playing while you're being recorded. I know this shouldn't make any difference but for some reason it does. It could be the deafening quiet that occurs just after the recorder is started but before you actual start to play - seems like there is WAY too much time there to consider all the possible pitfalls that await you! Then there's the problem of your trying to play your part exactly right - the whole tune through! It's a daunting effort and gives you a far greater appreciation for those artists who seem to be able to perform their songs perfectly - even in a live environment!!! True, some mistakes can be easily fixed by re-recording only a small segment of the track needing correction but the mere fact that you know the recorder is running seems to place a heavier weight on your shoulders. I think beer might actually help!
One area we did NOT have issues with was that of "artistic difference". It was simple; if it's your tune, we'll do it your way. Note that this did not prevent suggestions from being made and discussion to take place but the final decision was alway up to the person who brought the tune to the table, as it were. This made it a lot easier when it came time to finalize the arrangements!
By now you are probably saying, "All right, already! Tell us about the tunes we can expect to hear on the CD! And how about
some audio clips to listen to?". Fair enough. Some of the tunes to be included on the CD are available, in sound clip form, by clicking
on the musical staff icons on this page. This is just a sampling and a more comprehensive list is being written as online
and is available for browsing. These notes and their related sound clips are being constantly updated and may appear here from time to
time in the above form without any announcement so you can check back periodically to see if there's something new; you never know...
One final "thank you" to Strider who kept us company through most of the rehearsal, recording and engineering of the CD. He was patient, attentive and, most important, quiet during the entire process. (He actually seems to enjoy music as he will gravitate to the room where it is being played and lie quietly, dozing until it's time to offer an opinion on the mix...) He has recently been awarded the title of "the Official Blue Ridge Bakery Sound Hound" - ARF! ARF!
Please remember that your comments and suggestions are always welcomed. We take requests; we don't promise to play them but we take them, none the less... Keep those electronic cards and letters comin', folks!
Send comments to: BRBBoys@comporium.net
Changes last made on: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 at 2:23pm