Tag Archives: Singer-songwriter

Cello, Kitty! Solo Album Session 4 at “The Clark Gable House”


Val Young

Last night was a collision of two first impressions.  

I remember the first time I heard Val Young play cello, well over a year ago on an open mic night at Avant Garden, a cozy neighborhood venue in Midtown Houston.  It was the first time I had ever seen/heard a cello played live outside of an orchestra, and I couldn’t get enough of it.  Val and I talked after I played a few songs, and she liked my stuff.  That’s really all it takes with music: nice, talented people who like each other’s playing.  If you have that, the rest falls into place.

The other first impression was much more recent:  walking into Houston Press web editor Katharine Shilcutt’s current residence, a place where Clark Gable lived for a few years in the 1920’s.   Slideshow here: http://www.houstonpress.com/slideshow/view/28496258

When I came through the door for the first time, I got the vibe that I was in a recording studio.  It felt like some secret, magic house.  I asked Katharine if we could record there.  “Of course!”

Last night, Val,  sound engineer Chris Longwood and I grabbed our gear and headed over to record cello in the land of Clark Gable.  As promised, Katharine “got the dead guy out of the fireplace” before we arrived, ha.  Thanks, Katharine.  We walked in. Chris and Val immediately loved the place: vaulted ceiling, thick hardwood floors, dim lighting, a neighborhood kitty cat who comes and goes, and that magic feeling.  Not a bad way to spend a Saturday night.

Chris Longwood, setting up the mic

 The first song we worked on was The Ballad of Marylou.  Val and I had jammed this song once before at Avant Garden shortly after that first meeting over a year ago, and after that we were both set on recording it one day.  It made its first appearance without cello on the November 2008 Runaway Sun EP, and I’m really excited at how Val, Chris and I are reworking it.  It’s  One of those songs that falls somewhere in between what I write with the band and what I’m putting my name on as a solo project, and last night confirmed our conviction that a stringed version was necessary.   Here’s a video clip of us working out a phrase:  http://www.twitvid.com/7C047

I could go on and on, but I’ll close with this age old piece of advice: trust your instincts.  If you have a great feeling about something, pursue it and satisfy your curiosity.  The pursuit is always fun no matter what happens, and if it turns into an overall success rather than a failure, that’s just icing on the proverbial cake.  

Thank you to Katharine Shilcutt for letting a bunch of musicians invade your home!  Read her food and restauarant reviews at http://blogs.houstonpress.com/eating/
 and follow her on twitter @she_eats





1 Comment

Filed under Special Shows

Solo Album Session 2 at SugarHill Studios

After a sold out album release party with Runaway Sun at The Continental Club in Houston (http://runawaysun.wordpress.com/2009/10/15/lp-release-party-sold-out/), with The Bridge LP in the can and our new web site almost ready for launch/tour plans under way, I found some time to make my way back home to SugarHill Studios for my second solo album recording session.

My first session and the Runaway Sun sessions were done in Studio A, but for my second session I opted for Studio B.  Every room in the recording studio has a different feel, and Studio B felt right for what we were getting into, namely songs that will be strictly acoustic and vocals.
Chris Longwood is once again the engineer, he did such a great job with the Runaway Sun album and half the fun of recording the solo project is that I’m playing songs he hasn’t heard before.  Gina Miller, friend and marketing director for SugarHill, also sat in on the session and took these photos.
I record at a really fast pace.  My rules for the studio are:
1) Go in prepared (well practiced, set list written out with notes)
2) Be honest (if there is anything about the take that doesn’t feel right as it’s happening, stop, start over)
3) Be bold (try new things at the risk of ruining a take) 
4) Wear comfy clothes that don’t make a lot of noise
In the first session, I recorded sixteen guitar/vocal tracks in six hours, and this second one I did ten guitar/vocal tracks in four hours.  I’m now at the point where I have the takes I want for the guitar and vocals, and we’re ready to proceed with recording the other instruments.  There are ten songs with a range of instrumentation – cello, violin, upright bass, mandolin, banjo, pedal steel, and drums/percussion, and a bunch of songs that are only acoustic guitar/vocals. 

Vocal takes. I love this microphone.

 For more information on SugarHill Studios, visit http://www.sugarhillstudios.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Special Shows