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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A productive and exhausting 26-hour weekend in the studio

By Ted Slowik

The return to the recording studio to work on originals after a 27-year hiatus went great. Spent 14 hours Saturday recording acoustic guitar and lead vocal tracks for six songs, and 12 hours Sunday adding accompaniment to four of them.

This took place at Third City Sound, located above Chicago Street Pub in downtown Joliet, Illinois. Proprietor Bill Aldridge exercised extraordinary engineering feats and skill at recording everything, especially the acoustic guitar and vocal tracks. Producer John Condron displayed surgical production abilities, arrangement direction and accompaniment choices and performances. And musician friends Pat Otto and Aly Flood lent their amazing talents to the project. 

Here's a little video snippet of John arranging and rehearsing the "Red Rover" harmony with Aly. Everyone involved was great to work with, very professional and immensely talented.

We accomplished much, though we still have a bit of finishing up to do. We'll finish in a few weeks and the plan is to make this six-song collection available this fall. The six songs are "Red Rover," "Ballad of Slowiks," "Record Store," "Hinsdale," "Springfield" and "Dear Editor."

I purposely chose six songs that are fairly easy to play and sing, and that have been well-received by audiences in the two years since I began performing as an acoustic guitar-playing singer/songwriter. The six are all stories, and none has long, wide open space where solos would be needed though there are a couple of interludes. Pat, for example, fills a couple beautifully with mandolin on "Red Rover." Aly sings harmony on that one, and Pat also plays mandolin on "Slowiks." John played drums and keyboards on "Red Rover," drums on Hinsdale and together we recorded foot stomps and hand claps for "Record Store." John also played banjo on "Record Store."

Saturday was grueling for an old salt like me. It's warm up in that studio, despite this being an unusually cool August. I sure did sweat a lot playing and singing all those songs. Actually, my voice was so tired, we knocked off at midnight Saturday and had a pint downstairs in the pub, then I sang the last two songs, "Hinsdale" and "Springfield," when I was refreshed on Sunday morning.

Scheduling-wise everything went smoothly, with Pat and Aly stopping by at different times to record their parts. John efficiently made use of the time and had some percussion tracks for "Slowiks" done in the time it took me to go on a run for IPA beer, cigarettes and Chicken-N-Spice. I love John's choices and ideas, and my job on Sunday was basically to stay out of the way and make sure everybody else had what they needed to be happy.

It was late Sunday night when we wrapped but Bill was kind enough to burn a rough mix. No sneak peaks, as the tracks aren't finished yet and when they are the plan is to release them together as a collection available for sale, for say $5 for the six tunes. Such a deal! I have to get a website up and running and sign a deal with a record label or start my own, but these are trivial matters. The songs are great and for the first time since 1986, so are the recordings of them!