Part 1: testing the waters
The way I make my living in the music recording business is by bringing my expertise and recording equipment to where ever the artist(s) feel is the best place for their music to be created and performed. My job is to optimize the environment both physically and mentally so the artists have the best chance possible to make their very best performance. Technically my intention is that no compromises need to be made in the process so that it’s like I’m setting up a world class studio where ever it needs to be. Ideally the room is acoustically supportive, and my equipment is a careful selection of microphones, cables, preamps and analogue to digital converters to transparently capture the music as its happening in the room.
When Chris Luedecke (AKA Old Man Luedecke) approached me to ask if I’d be interested in embarking on a CD recording project with him in his cabin in Chester Nova Scotia, I was excited, and the gears started turning. Chris had a concept in his mind… record a collection of his tunes in the comfort of a little cabin on his property with his friend and musical collaborator Tim O’Brien. Many of the tunes for this collection were in fact written in this cabin, so it seemed to Chris a fitting location: it sounded nice, it was quiet, it had a good energy and he felt at home there (he WAS home there!).
In order to give us the confidence that indeed this room was going to translate we needed to give it a try. Not every room is suitable to make a record in and before committing to the cabin, we both felt it important to take the cabin (and Chris’ new tunes) out for a spin. The acoustics of the room must reflect a desirable quality back into the microphones. It’s important that the room enhances the music but doesn’t get in the way. Chris and I booked a day in his cabin to demo all the tunes he was hoping to record.
It would serve three purposes:
- To see how the cabin sounds as a recording venue;
- To try out some microphones to make sure they’re a good match;
- To have a decent quality demo recording of all the tunes to send over to Tim O’Brien in Nashville so he could start thinking about what he might contribute to the arrangements.
Once we got the the tracks back to the studio it was immediately apparent that the cabin was going to work really well for this music. With a combination of stereo room microphones, and spot microphones on Chris’ voice and banjo/guitar we were able to achieve a nice balance and found that for some tunes it would be important to take the room out completely as we felt the music called for a more intimate sound or a different acoustic all together that we could add using artificial reverb.
I did quick mixes on all the tunes we recorded that Chis was hoping to record and uploaded them to SoundCloud where Tim could easily stream or download the mixes to listen to.
Chris booked Tim’s flight from Nashville to Halifax, and the dates we locked in.
2 days before the session was scheduled to start we got some snow… 4o cm of snow.
… continue to Part 2: load-in, set-up, recording and editing.
Purchase Old Man Luedecke’s CD, Domestic Eccentric here
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