Last week, uber-famous singer/songwriter John Oates
came into town to record an album. Since I was his guitar tech a few years ago and since he supposed I had made a few contacts here in Nashville in the 10 years I have lived here, he had me coordinate the project. I guess he figured a guy on the ground was good to have, even though I had never done any album coordinating before, unless placing the Capitol Beatles albums in chronological order or putting my hippest LPs where my friends could see them counts.
Anyways, I made a few suggestions, which lead to other suggestions and eventually a crew of supporting players was assembled, cast and contracted to play on the record. With some great help from the the trans-capable Anthony Aquilato, we got the guitars in tune, the drums in tune, and a bunch of great Nashville players assembled. Of course, John brought a ringer in the form of the fabulous T-Bone Wolk
, bass legend and current Music Row trend setter. (Producer Note: If studio cat Steve Mackie
is scheduled to play on any of your sessions in the next two weeks, Wolk's evangelizing of the Gibson Ripper has caused Mackie to take it out of the closet and put it to use on all of his recent session work. You have been warned.)T-Bone Wolk and Steve Mackie
Roots Bass icon Paul Slivka loaned us his trusty B-15 bass amp, and it was used by all of the guys: T-Bone, Tim Marks and Michael Rhodes. It sounded great - and different - in the hands of every one of them. You can hear it's owner on Tuesdays at The Family Wash and any of a number of N-ville clubs the rest of the week. Thanks, Slivvy!!
John and Tim Marks
Acoustic music specialist Bil VornDick
was engineer on the project. You can Google the All Music Guide for his credits, but make a sandwich and get a drink before you do. I
know him as a kind and generous soul who can make broken hard drives better and make the sound of a particular guitar appear to be coming from above and beyond the speakers. He makes great things sound better and good things sound great. Nobody worried about getting their true "tone on tape" - or digitized into 1s and 0s... as was the case. (Note to self: We need new metaphors that are as alliterative and alluring as their analog ancestors).Bil VornDick
Ace keyboardist, songwriter, producer, Red Bull fanatic Jed Leiber
played keyboards and co-wrote and co-produced some of the tracks. An amazing guy, and owner of Nightbird
Studio in Los Angeles.Jed Leiber
Drum tech guru Anthony Aquilato was on hand for tuning and tweaking the kits. He and John go way back to the Hall and Oates heyday, and I met Anthony on the Christmas tour we both did with H&O. We now both work for LeAnn Rimes, he's the Production Manager, I'm tuning guitars.Aq tunes the drums
The songs are excellent. John believes them to be the best he has written to date, and they are uniformly top notch, inspired and appropriate. They ring true, do not suffer from the common Music Row tendencies and above all, they are soulful. Having a voice like his to sing them with must be quite an advantage from a songwriting standpoint. John's demos were cool enough to listen to for enjoyment and
instruction. Recorded in Garageband, no less.
Drummers Doug Belote, Shannon Forrest and Chad Cromwell delivered the necessary drive and groove with various amounts of grease, and guitarists Tom and Bob Britt did their Sibling Brothers vibe-acious tag-team on an uptempo Stonesy rocker with vocals from Bekka Bramlett. Funky but Hick. Oates noted that they seem to use the same instruments and tunings most of us mortal guitar players use, and that he did recognize all of the chord shapes and scale positions being massaged, but was confounded by the resulting sound versus his own six-string efforts. Welcome to Nashville, Mr. Oates! Though it must be noted that JO has mad guitar skills and will be featured throughout the record.
Overdubs for the acoustic masters - Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas and Sam Bush start next week. I'll be busy in LeAnn rehearsals, but I'l try to get some photos to add to this post.