Thursday, July 31, 2003

Coming Up for Air!!!!

The past two days have been mixing heaven. Not only did I have Steve Christensen and Kevin Ryan on hand to share the mix duties on Courtney Power�s songs, Jason Jordan stopped by and stuck around for the entire two days to help out!!!!! How could it get any better?!! The really cool part was that Courtney was totally stoked to have all the help. This project has really been a team builder.

The results of our work speak for themselves,�and speaking of,�.the soundboard page of this site is now active, (along with the Dan-O-Matic, and a photo page). I have posted unmastered mixes, so you can hear �em hear first, (just turn �em up).

Something really amazing has happened. Many of you know that I have been without Intrepid Iris� help the past few months as she has transitioned into a real money making career at American Eagle clothing store. Many tears have been shed by yours truly, in angst over not having her incredible help. Three days ago, however, I got the heads up from Christi about a resume from a very interesting person, who just happens to have a skill set remarkably like my wish-list for a production assistant/manager.

I met with her today, and was suitably impressed. Perhaps the Universe is Providing. I hope that I can find a way for us to work together, and I am sure that I will chronicle the entire process for the curious right here in this forum. If this actually works out, Dan Workman Music might have the partner that I need to make some VERY interesting things happen around here��(I�ll keep you posted).

Finally, more production meetings tomorrow, then on Monday, it�s off to Arkansas for a week or R&R before I come home and get serious about starting Sarah Sharps most excellent upcoming release.


Thursday, July 24, 2003

Great News All the Way Around!!!

Ultramagg is getting some attention at Dreamworks!!! Pale and Mark Needs A Chick are getting attention at Hollywood Records!!

I haven't heard from Jason Jordan, but Jeff Price has let me know that the MiracleVersesMan crew is back from being on tour, and has, ostensibly, survived. I may have the opportunity to master their newest CD with them....I hope it works out.

The past two days have been really productive cutting vocals (and other crazy stuff) for Courtney Powers' CD. Kevin Ryan imposed his genius will upon us all today by wanting to do some 'ambient -- roomy percussion'. After I saw that Kevin was looking for something non-standard to bang on, we went out to the massive SugarHill warehouse and got a half-full plastic garbage can (the kind with two plastic wheels built in), and various metal doo-dads, and sundries. We brought them back to Studio B where an audience of the curious quickly formed to find out why Dan and Kevin were hauling trash INTO the building.

We mic'd the main room, then proceeded to play the 'percussion' in the control room with the door open into the studio. Kevin wowed us all with his garbage can technique. He was out of breath at the end of the cut, and did not ask for another pass(!) It sounded great, and Courtney and I were suitably impressed.

Courtney sang for hours on end today, and really impressed us with her tenacity. The girl can truly hang in there. She did some of her best work after an 8 hour day spent mostly on the mic!

Finally, Courtney's exec's OK'd the 'F' word. I'm glad I didn't stir up too much of a hornets' nest there. One more day to sing, (& play guitar for me), and then I edit, and we mix next week. WOO-HOO


Tuesday, July 22, 2003

I got to spend most of Monday afternoon with Sarah Sharp discussing the final details of getting her project started. Kevin Ryan, Sarah, Sam Arnold, and Buffalo Speedway (!) will be meeting with me to select our first set of three songs to begin on. Although Sarah and I had a pretty laid back afternoon, we got a lot accomplished....we are both VERY excited.

Courtney Visser came by as we finished our meeting and Sarah and Courtney hit it off. Courtney and I went on to finish vocal pre production on her three songs. We cut the first of the three today in SugarHill's Studio B. Courtney showed up with no less than 5 of Sarah's famed lemon-ginger shots to keep her throat clear. I am here to report that they did their job as advertised. Not only did Courtney sound great, she remained fresh during the day, responded very well to being pushed to perform, and, in general, she 'worked and played well with others'.

The day started with nervous chatter about the fact that the song that Kevin and I wrote for her has the 'F' word in it. Specifically, we wanted to know what the ramifications would be with her executive producer. The following is the text of my email to said executive. I include it here because I am sure that this is an issue that all of my readers might be up against someday. Note the diplomatic conveyance of information. (btw: no one has been fired yet).


Tonight I finished my last vocal pre production session with Courtney. She has continued to impress me with her focus and willingness to work. Kevin Ryan has completed the arrangement of our final song, which Kevin and I wrote together, (more on this in a moment).

We are back on track, schedule wise. Tomorrow we begin three days of recording vocals and any additional instrumentation at the studio. We will also be editing as we go along. I expect we will finish this part of the project well within budget. We seem to be quite on track for our final mix sessions next week as well.

Back to the song we wrote for Courtney. The name of the song is 'You Lose', and it is sort of a 'female empowerment' song based on an idea I got from a line in one of Courtney's lyrics. It is about ending a bad relationship and is one long extended metaphor based on playing board games. I want you to know that there is an instance of profanity in the song, specifically involving the 'F' word. I don't believe in using profanity for shock value as the potential for it to backfire personal integrity-wise is just too great. In this song, however, I feel that its use is merited and is an appropriate artistic statement for the song's 'character' to sing.

I do plan to mix a 'clean' version of the song that has the curse word partially 'bleeped' out so we will not risk losing the attention of those people who would be offended by the statement.

I am letting you know now because I don't want you to be surprised by this. I have no idea if I am crossing any of your personal boundaries here, but I do want you to know that I am very sensitive to how Courtney might be perceived in singing this song. It is my opinion that she will not be perceived negatively by singing the lyric, in context, as written. ( I am including the lyrics in full, after this letter).

There you have it, if you have any questions, or comments, please feel free to call or write.

We continue on with Courtney on Thursday and Friday. It has been a blast working with Kevin in the studio, and as I mentioned before, she has knocked us out several times.


Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Alright, alright!!!...

I have been tardy in posting lately, but I'm back in the saddle and ready to report.

First off, the motorcycle journey to Eurika Springs, Arkansas was incredible. One big highlight was finding a recording studio in the microscopic burg of Kirby, Arkansas. This town was so small it had one gas station, one cafe, and one recording studio. There was a big, handpainted wooden sign out on the highway announcing: "T and T" Recording Studio, $10.00 a Song. It had a red arrow pointing down the road, and a phone number. We didn't check it out, but I did get a picture. When John Powell gets my picture diary up on the site, I will post the image. Maybe I can go cut some vocals there for a 'local color' vibe. (At $10.00 a song, how can we go wrong?)

Right before I left, Mark Ellis and I created live performance submixes for Mark Needs A Chick. The initial report is that the mixes need some tweeking, but I have to hand it to the guys for trying this out. I first made live performance tracks (things like backing vocals and unusual instrumental parts to play along with during live shows) for ZZ Top's live show. It is not easy to get sync'd up and blend with prerecorded material, but when you do, it sounds very impressive. Today's audiences do not give a second thought to pre-recorded material being used in a show, (been to a rap show lately?), but back in the day, we hid the tape decks at the monitor position console during ZZ's show so nobody would snap to the fact that not all of the parts were being played live. My how the times do change.

News Flash: Hollywood records are checking out Pale and Mark Needs a Chick. Not that we're holding our breath or anything, but they have been more and more interested in Houston lately. On a side note, Steve Christensen's work on Silvertrip's demo looks to be very instrumental in their being signed by Capitol Records. Stay tuned for more on this.

Sarah Sharp is back from her UK tour, and it sounds like it was a raving success!! She was the darling of a BBC radio show, and was featured in several front page paper articles. Way to go. She and I will be meeting on Monday to discuss the details of her upcoming production. I have never been more ready to do a job.

Kevin Ryan and I have been working pretty hard with Courtney Powers on a three song deal. This has been a very pleasant surprise in that Courtney has risen to every challenge so far. Kevin has done a great job, as usual, on the arrangements, and Courtney has passed her first vocal pre production tests with flying colors. I had a really great time with her last night grooming her vocals on one song, (tentativly titled 'Stay'). We tried out some backing vocal ideas at the end of the night that really got me excited. We cut vocals and final instruments at SugarHill next week. Another cool part of our work together is that I got to write the lyrics to a song for Courtney titled, 'You Lose'. Despite the title's implication, this is a empowerment song(!)

Finally, both Eilleen Faxas, and Craig Byrnes are waiting in the wings to get productions started. All this and I may be engineering some big band stuff for Maria Williams. LIFE IS GREAT. I am also eager to hear from Jason Jordan and Jeff about the MiracleVersesMan tour. They should be home by now, (so call if you are reading, Jason).



Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Just finished performance tracks for Mark Needs a Chick. Now I'm off for 5 days of motorcycle riding with my dad and my uncle John. We are heading to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. I'm sure the music won't stop while I'm gone.

Much to think about re: Courtney Powers' music. Kevin Ryan is way overachieving on it so far.


Thursday, July 03, 2003

Just finished mastering Pale with Allen Corneau at Essential Sound. It sounds fantastic! See the Pale website:

Got the final master for Mark Needs A Chick back from Jim Demain at Yes Master in Nashville. It sounds fantastic as well.

Now I can go celebrate the 4th with new stuff to listen to.



Wednesday, July 02, 2003


Driving to work this morning was a real sweaty, squinty ordeal. Houston has settled into it's Swealter Phase for the next three months. Opening the door to the hyper airconditioned confines of the studio felt really good this morning.

Finished mixing Craig Byrnes' song; 'Blue Day' last night in Studio A at SugarHill. The song came out fantastic. Kevin Ryan's arrangement and recording was top notch, (as usual), and Craig's vocals sat in the mix incredibly well. Stand out moments for me were the transformation of acoustic guitar counter-melodies into some crazy, delay and Leslie-frenzied tone chunks. I hope Kevin feels the love when he hears how I deconstructed the parts. Looks like I'll do another song with Craig, because this came out well. Craig was really cool in that he let me and Kevin run with his ideas pretty far. He did a great job setting us up for the job. Thanks for the killer song, Craig.

If I haven't mentioned it, I did see Jason Jordan, and Jeff Price, (and drummer Lance), perform a full set as MiracleVersesMan last Thursday at Walter's On Washington. These guys are simply incredible -- an astounding balance of over-the-top raw energy and melodic finess. They are leaving on tour tomorrow. Check them out at

I am continuing to work on Courtney Powers' songs. We are writing together with Kevin's help. I may also take on a few new songs with Cuban Diva, Eileen Faxas. If so, I want to take her 'ballad tendencies' to some heretofore unvisited territory. More will be revealed.