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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Making a Record

This is a picture of the control room at Reeves Audio Recording, a hidden gem of a recording studio in Evanston IL. The owner-operator of this temple of audio recording glory is Mr. Jim Reeves, an old-skool superstar recording engineer with cutting-edge equipment and technology. My buddy, bass player EG McDaniel, introduced me to JR. He has served as engineer/producer for recordings by Sly Stone, War, Wynton Marsalis, Count Basie, Johnny Winter, Lou Reed, Gregg Allman, Mott the Hoople, ZZ Topp, and a host of others. He has been in this game for 45 years or more, and his 64-track recording studio is absolutely top-shelf.
The Mystery Band has been receiving repeated requests for a recorded sample of our music. I have waved these off for over a year, but I finally decided to move ahead and make a professional recording. There will be a dozen original tunes on the disc, all from the quirky, twisted mind of Mr. G.
We got all the tracks in the can in about ten hours of studio time. I have never participated in a lengthy recording session as the leader of a band - it is weird. Every musician is in a different room to isolate his contribution and record it on a separate track. Eye contact is pretty much eliminated, and all communication between musicians is done over the headphones and via video monitors. This makes it tougher to be spontaneous and "call audibles" during a tune. The Mystery Band is all about spontaneity and happy accidents that produce good music. This is hard to recreate in the studio.
I have been listening to the rough cut of the tracks for over a week and I have started to return to Jim's studio to fix glitches. It seems like the fixing is tougher than the initial recording - it took JR and I three hours to get an acceptable version of one song!
This is all costing some serious coin, so the project has shifted from being a goof/hobby expenditure to more of a business endeavor. I want to sell enough copies of this disc to break even (at least). I think that will mean selling 800-900 copies of the CD (or generating equivalent revenues from track sales on-line). This is a pretty lofty goal for a part-time bar band........

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