Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Iguana Fund - In the Studio : Day 1 recap

As some of you may know, we hit Riverview Studios for our first full day of tracking for our Iguana Fund / Club Passim project. As of now I am referring to it as “Locals Covering Locals” but “Songs I wish I wrote…” was another title brought up this weekend that I thought was rather fitting. What do you guys think? 

We started bright and early, we went straight through pretty hard until around 6 PM, and I am just at a loss for words with how the day panned out. It was incredible. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to a lot of people for making Day 1 such a special one. The additional line up will be rolled out soon, but in the meantime…here’s a look at our first day of tracking.

I arrived at the studio a little before 9:30, coffee and a bag full of bagels in hand to meet Sam and Kramer, who were already hanging some mics and running cables to get things ready to roll ahead of time. Shortly after our first guest arrived…

Ian Fitzgerald truly jumped on the grenade for the rest of the acts by agreeing to come in first, an early to hour sing and play, and set the precedent for how the day was going to go. I think his new nickname should be Ian “One Take” Fitzgerald, because he knocked a version of Will Houlihan’s “Vampyre” right out of the park. Gave it his signature sound, but remained true to its writer by the haunting beauty in his performance. I don’t want to give too much away, but if this version of a wonderful song doesn’t touch you in some way then you need to get your pulse checked.

Next in the studio was Mark Whitaker with special guest Eva Walsh…and then Eva Walsh with special guest Mark Whitaker, which made the next two sessions run pretty smoothly! Mark performer a beautiful and silky version of Noam Weinstein’s “Yesterday’s Weather” with Eva on fiddle. This is going to be a favorite track for a lot of folks. Right after, Ms. Walsh switched her fiddle out for a guitar and laid down a beautiful version of “Secret Sounds” by Allison Francis with Mark on the banjo. Eva then went ahead and overdubbed fiddle as well…and as always, played beautifully.

Next up we had our pal Dan Blakeslee in to cut his version of James Houlihan’s “Ben Riley’ and oooooooh man was it awesome. Dan’s playing, his voice, and the emotion and life he breathed into this song was simply amazing. I know that James is going to be very proud of how his great song was represented. Dan just fills a room with positive energy when he enters…even putting 6 mics in front of his face isn’t enough to capture this guy’s joy. Love Dan!

We got through what we thought was the easiest part of the day and into the “full band” arrangements in the early afternoon. 

First up was Ryan Fitzsimmons, Laurence Scudder and Jim Larkin pulling double duty on the rhythm section with upright bass and drums. These guys added a truly rocking feel to the project with their take on “Helen Rose” by Greg Klyma. We even got a great backstory on the song and while it’s an emotion driven song for Greg, Ryan infuses himself into it and really makes it something. These guys added something very special to this project with their track choice (both the song and the arrangement).

Last, but most certainly not least, was the group of Chuck Melchin, Michael Spaly, Jef Charland, and Jess Fox. They took on a Sean Staples tune with a certain local flair called “Dance at the Plough”. Everyone in studio was blown away by the arrangement these guys chose, bluegrass with waltzy, 3/4 breakdowns and a surprise at the end (you will have to wait for the recording to hear that though). It is tasty, it is fun, it was beyond a pleasure to watch it unfold in the studio live.

Sad you weren’t there? Don’t be, because Connor Millican from Idlewilde Productions captured the whole damn thing on video and we will be rolling footage out soon. He has such a keen eye and wonderful vision…plus is as excited to be involved as all of us…so the video will be amazing. Stay tuned for it as it rolls out.

Last: I cannot begin to thank Andrew Kramer and Sam Margolis for their professionalism in studio and ability to collaborate with me to get things done quickly. At the end of the day they both said they couldn’t believe how much we really got done in one day. These guys know how to record wonderful sounds in their fantastic space and really make it feel comfortable, relaxed, and just a feel good time. If you have a record in the pipeline, then you should give these guys a call. For what they churn out they should be charging two times the price for their studio work. Truly incredible.

This project is already more than I could have imagined it to be. I cannot take any credit for the way it has turned out so far, all the folks who showed up, ready to play, and both Kramer and Sam deserve all the credit for making this thing what it is. We have something special here and I cannot wait to share it with the world.

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