scratch track

2 06 2009

DSC_0002The first day is all about adjustment…like from the roof top of the six story building at the corner of 6th Ave & San Pedro in downtown LA where the studio is…there is plenty to look at.  We are smack dab in the middle of the real Skid Row so there will be more pictures another day of how I pass my time while Shop Girl is doing her thing.

DSC_0065The night before the first session she couldn’t sleep much just hearing the songs in her head and planning things out.  Not at all unlike Best Boy who is back in GR working on a three week reality show project.  We’ve come to understand that getting the first shot off gets him settled in – then his brain starts to unwind ever so slowly.  So in this setting – until the first scratch tracks are done, she couldn’t really settle in and get started.  It was a good day.  Sleepy vocals that are keepers.


There is always beauty to be found in these old warehouse converted loft studios.  The initial impression in the glaring light of day softens as moods are set as well as levels on a sound board.  But just like the magic of Hollywood looks so different from the inside out – this process is nothing like the final outcome.  It sounds effortless and simple but is the result of hours and hours of repeating things over and over again.

DSC_0085So day one is behind us and there are  9 more to go for this round.  When I woke up at 3 a.m. Cali time, then at 4 a.m. Cali time and at 5 a.m. Cali there was no lack of music and lyrics in my head.  So goes the process.  Looking forward to the magic that will unexpectedly happen today.  As long as she has been doing this and I have seen the inside of a half dozen studios with her, I have NEVER been in one that doesn’t have an old leather couch.  My process today will be a nap.


28 05 2009

IMG_2528 1I think that someday I’ll need to write a book.  Being a parent with two offspring in the entertainment industry can be one exciting ride.  It has taken me to many places I never thought I’d go and taught me a million things about the particulars of recording studios and movie sets that I never thought I’d know.  And frankly, I can never get enough of it.

This Sunday, well before the sun is up Shop Girl and I will be on our way to LA where she has studio time booked for 10 days of laying down some new music.  She comes alive in the studio but it has been a long road since her first experience back in 1999.  Yes, chapters could be written and I’m not going to go there now.

On Monday we heard the sad news of the death of Jay Bennett.  In our personal opinions – he WAS Wilco.  In the early Spring of 2003, Shop Girl’s first EP was recorded at the Pieholden Studios in Chicago with Jay Bennett as her producer / engineer.  Best Boy’s wonderkin multi-instrumentalist roomate back then was David Vandervelde.  When Jay got to know David during those work days that started at 1 p.m. and went till 6 a.m. the next morning – something magical happened.

I think Jay saw in David his own particular brand of musical genius and a deep friendship / musical mentoring was born.  We were able to stand at a distance and be amazed at the things that were created in the Pieholden Studio at David’s hand over the next number of years until he was signed to a Secretly Canadian.

Just wanted to take a minute before these next few days get incredibly busy to say sometimes the scariest risks we take in our lives can be the richest.  If you ever have to drop your barely 20 year old daughter off at a warehouse in Chicago and enter through a dark passageway lined with filthy discarded mattresses, take a deep breath and walk through the darkness.  Leaving her there as the only female with a half a dozen guys was another little adventure in faith.  And from that beginning has come a lot of great music.

I woke at 3:30 a.m. today.  Thinking about this journey, thinking about Jay and the funeral that will probably be this week sometime…and wondering about the fun Shop Girl is about to have with good friends in LA.  This time around her producer will be Evan Slamka from Marjorie Fair.  And I’ll leave you with Evan singing  Empty Room…”but if I die young, fill my empty room with the sun.”  Shop Girl will try to do just that for you, Jay.