I got home to Heber on Saturday afternoon, and I'm almost back to feeling order and normalcy. I was lucky enough to have a flexible travel schedule and took a nice long scenic drive home from Tennessee exploring Memphis, old Route 66, hot springs north of Albuquerque, and a darling bed & breakfast in Monticello, Utah of all places.
So.... Nashville! Let me tell you all about it. After an ice storm delay, rescheduling pretty much everything, and of course pandemic precautions, we managed to make a record... mostly! Josh still has 2 ukulele parts to record for one song. There are three parts (standup bass, fiddle, and keys) that will be recorded by the players remotely and sent in because of quarantine and scheduling reasons. Mary is going to record background vocals from her home studio setup, and then Mary and Josh will do a whole bunch of comping before sending the 10 tracks off for mixing. Mixing should take a couple weeks, then mastering happens. So, that puts the final product in my hands somewhere in mid-April. Whew!
The studio experience was... hmmm.... where do I begin? Inspiring, fun, funny, challenging, educational, magical, a lot of work, rewarding, humbling.
The caliber of musicians who worked on this record was incredible. Every single player was nothing less than a top-level professional, but also a cool and fun down-to-earth human. Watching and listening to Kira Small build and sing 3-part Sharon Jones-esque harmonies on the fly was mind-blowing. Owen Biddle (elec. bass) and Jordan Perlson (drums) made my little baby songs grooooooove. I can't even begin to describe Josh Kaler's skill and creativity on acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and - holy sh**- pedal steel. Then there was Jelly Roll Johnson on harmonica. He's been strictly quarantined during the pandemic, but we were able to create a safe space for him to come record, and I am truly grateful. The man is legendary. Josh, Mary and I were laughing after every section of every take simply out of disbelief of what we were witnessing. He's THAT GOOD.
What really impressed me was that nobody held back. None of these musicians know me from Adam, but they all brought their A-game. I would have been impressed with their C- or D-game! Instead, each player offered up ideas on ways to make the most out of each song. They asked for another take to make sure they got it just right. They were meticulous and made sure their best work made it on my little baby record. And I got to sit back and watch the magic happen right there in front of me.
Working with Mary was a dream. I knew she was the right choice from the beginning, but each day in the studio further justified my decision. She was professional, creative, organized, laid-back, quick with a joke, and determined to make this record fantastic. One of the reasons I was so hellbent on having a pro-level producer on this record is that I'm aware of how much I truly don't know about recording. I realize there are options out there I don't even know exist - for instrumentation, arrangements, effects, etc. The second we got to work, Mary already had a vision in place and started making it happen. She directed me and the other players on what style to play or sing, where to come in, what snare we should use on this song versus that song, more Dap Kings - less Tom Petty on this one, more Tom Petty on that one, more glimmer here, dirtier there. All the while leaving room for everyone to be creative and thrive on each song. I learned a ton watching her work.
I have to give a huge thanks to Josh Kaler who not only played all the guitars and pedal steel, but he was the recording engineer as well. He got to the studio early to set up mics and run cables. He stayed late to tie up loose ends and prepare for the next day. Immeasurable patience, lightning fast at ProTools commands, and a deep knowledge of every SNL skit ever - we couldn't have done this without him, nor would it have been nearly as fun.
I could go on and on and on, but I'll save some details for later updates. I'll keep you posted as things progress, ensuring y'all are the first to hear these songs with me. So many people have helped me get this far - I still can't believe it. Thank you so much for your support! I can't wait for you to hear this record.
Lots of love,