Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sputnik, electric guitars & scrumptious burgers

My morning familial duties came first: pour cup of coffee, eat Kix, practice juggling handkerchiefs with Ellis (I think he's ready for clown school), empty cat litter box, take out trash and recyclables. Step outdoors to vibrant sunshine and warmer weather; ah, such welcome guests upon my skin. I cast my ballot on the way to Sputnik Studio. Upon arriving, though I was 30 minutes late in true Peters fashion, I discovered Andrew Osenga and Ben hard at work recording electric guitars on "I Will Go With You". Andy then added mando-guitar for a chorus idea I was hearing in my head. There was much rejoicing, at least in my head. Andy then played baritone and electric guitars on "Louisiana In the Dark", electric guitar on "The Traveling Onion", "Come Back a Fool", and, finally, "Sad to Watch You Wave".

Andy, during our original guitar session way back in early November, had rendered a slap-your-mother-in-the-face, George Harrison-cool electric guitar solo during the chorus modulation of "StWYW", but now, after listening back to it, neither I nor Ben are sure if it's the sort of solo that fits on an EP record. That's not to say that I'm cooler than the guitar solo, rather the solo is MUCH cooler than me. But, not to prematurely cast out presumed demons from pigs, the jury's still out on the part, so we'll see. I need to live with it (along with the rest of the songs) for awhile longer before setting things in cement. This paragraph is rife with an odd assortment of phrases, yes?

For lunch we were all invited to taste test a soon-to-open hamburger joint in town, in the shadow of the minor league baseball team's stadium. One could probably catch homerun balls in the Gabby's Diner parking lot during the dog days of summer (how wonderful that sounds right about now). Doug, the friendly proprietor and chef, cooked fresh hand-patted burgers & homecut fries, both the Idaho and sweet potato varieties, for our party of 10. My wife and I both greatly appreciate freshly ground, hand-patted burgers, and Gabby's is this sort of genuine place. No pre-packaged frozen meat here. Doug treated us all, only requesting that we give him our honest and critical feedback. I eagerly await the diner's opening, and hope that he thoroughly succeeds in the venture. I'm definitely going back to try the BBQ bacon burger.

Another good day is in the books. In case you're wondering, we're getting really close, folks. A few accents to yet add, then it's on to singing final vocals along with background vocals (BGVs). That should happen in the coming weeks. The artwork is being designed as I write this. Mix, master, duplicate (I'll explain these in more detail later) -- voila! CD for sale. I'm hoping to have a firm CD release date soon enough, but it's looking like March, maybe April. That, of course, will depend on how things go and whether there's money in the bank account to actually pay for these procedures (see Album Patronage). But I will keep the 3 of you informed as to when that when that might actually be. Hopefully, hope.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Banjo, Lap Steel, Fangs of Dang oh my!

This morning I met Gabe Scott at his place situated high on a crest overlooking the cold but clear Nashville urban horizon. We loaded his vehicle with a couple of instruments and an amp, hurriedly switched on the fancy seat warmers and made the 20-minute trek to The Beehive. En route, we stopped at his buddy's house to pick up a few other pertinent instruments. There, he & Gabe played me a sample of a song they'd just recorded together, which sounded incredible. Few know of Gabe's songwriting skills. I practically begged for a shot at writing some lyrics and melody for it, but I doubt I'll get the job.

At the studio, Gabe first recorded banjo on "Sad to Watch You Wave", more vibey tonic for this song's landscape. We met Andrew Peterson at Las Palmas mexican restaurant, where we ate too much cheesy, beany food, and then reconvened on the hill post-Speedy Gonzalez's. Ben had to leave and run a couple of errands, so Gabe and I took to arranging the lap steel parts for "You Don't Have the Strength". While listening to this song I had very nearly forgotten that I wrote it on the 5-year anniversary of 9/11 and is, in a sense, a memorial song. Andrew was gracious enough to take a break from working on his forthcoming new book, North! Or Be Eaten, to play the part of engineer and Pro Tools operator ("The check's in the mail, sir.") so I could attempt to communicate to Gabe what melody I was hearing in my head. Once again, I'm not fluent in the artful language of musicianship, so I had to hum the parts rather than explain them in more technical terms. But, like only a parent could understand his child's early attempts at speech, Gabe understood my babbling and did a mighty fine job of things. I love the gritty, haunting sound of lap steel.

We're now in the part of album-making that I enjoy most. Overdubs, for me, are like the icing on a cake; you get to mix the batter however you like, cut the cake in as many pieces as you want, and add as much or little candy sprinkles to the top as you can handle. This is the really fun part. We ran out of time to get Gabe on another song (or two), but that will have to wait until next week, perhaps. After all, there's still pedal steel to be captured. Tomorrow is electric guitar day with Andrew Osenga at Sputnik Studio. Yes, and good.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Gauging the Field

Ben and I met at The Beehive late yesterday morning where we spent the remainder of the day listening through all 11 songs. The goal, and overall point, was to gauge the progress thus far (since it has, after all, been 2 months since our last work on the album) and to get an idea of where things stood, and more importantly, where we want them to go from this point. We listened in with ears for instrumentation ideas, counter-melodies, and/or parts that might pleasantly fill in some of the spaces that need filling. I'm eager to hear where things go from here, especially as this may be the first EP album to have French horn and banjo on it.

Frankly, I'd forgotten most of what we'd already done, so it was good to hear the songs again. "Chrome" (the story of the abandoned Washington D.C. bicycle) stood out in my mind.

Thursday and Friday are overdub (adding the various instrumentation) days with Gabe Scott and Andrew Osenga (Part II). More to come.