Musicians That Will Make The CD Magic – Russell Ramo

russell (moppet) ramo, ali gilmoreAh, my heart has a special place for this guy.  I found him shortly after I moved to Pacific Beach at the beginning of 2010 I think it was…I found the local music shop and went in to get some strings for my guitar.  Was chatting with Alan, the guy behind the counter, saying how my beloved guitar teacher John Shipe had moved away and I was reticent to try anyone new.  He boasted about the shop’s resident instructor so well that by the time I left the shop I was convinced it was worth a shot.  When I arrived there was this strapping 6 foot-something with a giant mop of hair, deep eyes and pearly white smile.  Radiant soul just beaming from him.  I kid you not.

The picture you see here was taken the day that Russell introduced the Ukelele to me and to my song “If He Were Mine”.  I loved it so much that I bought it that day.  That’s Kala I’m holding there, the Uke I refer to in so many of my stories and the one that my friend Natalie hand painted for me.  Such great memories~

My first guitar teacher, John, helped to draw out the Americana song writer in me, then Russell’s rhythm and blues/rock persuasion gave my songs a little kick in the butt.  From him, I learned Travis Picking  to pick up the prussell ramo, ali gilmoreace of some songs and the Ukelele to lighten the tone of others.  How I was so lucky to find just the right teachers at just the right timing is beyond me, but there you have it and after having Russell in the studio with us and reconnecting to one of the great sources of my success made me wish I could fly John down to be part of the CD as well.   After all, this CD isn’t just about recording my music.  It’s a testament to those who inspire it.  Since that’s not in the cards though, John Shipe and Oregon are top of my list for locations to travel and record a single.  More on that later.  For now I’ll leave you with my lovely attempt at capturing some moments in the studio with the infamous Russell Ramo (who by the way, is currently playing in band called The Routine in San Diego and touring up the coast, so if you’re anywhere near, you should go.  I saw them play the other night and they are awesome~).

6 songs down.  4 more to go.  Going back into the studio with Justin and Jim to work on two more tonite…

Day 1 In The Studio

I promised you updates and what better place to start that day one in the studio.

First off, you might have noticed that we changed studios and engineers.  I’m still really looking forward to working with Alan Sanderson, but it will be on a single that we’ll record later in the year.

For the full length CD we decided in the end that the best fit overall would be to return to Sound Source Studio and its owner, Bort Schrader.  Bort and I go back to the beginning,  recording the Boomerang CD back in the summer of 2009 and then again with the two singles By New Year’s Day and Dear Santa in the fall of 2010.  His studio also happens to be just down the road from most of us involved in the CD, so you can imagine how pleased my dear, sweet,  under-payed musicians were to hear of that.

Yesterday was proof positive we are well on course.   I met up with Bort the week before to go over details, expectations, etc., but this was Justin and Jim’s first time in the studio/working with him, so we talked over how it would go.  The plan is to have Justin (or whoever will be playing lead guitar on the song we’re working on) to lay down the foundation of the track with guitar, then add placeholder vocals, then other instruments and harmonies, then polish it off with fresh vocals and fine tuning (ok, pitch fix).

Jim lugged his upright bass, electric, amps and accordion (not knowing what we’d need on day 1), so they are camping out there for a while.   Jim is not only my band mate, but my partner in music, so even when he’s not strumming the bass his presence is much appreciated, to bounce ideas off of and to help me stay focused on capturing the sounds and feel of the the music that’s authentic “me.”

Justin was brilliant.  So many times while he was in the quiet room running through the tracks we would look in through the window, commenting on what a great find he is, how professional, positive, what a great spirit…all said from the other side of a sound proof booth of course, so as not to over inflate his young, Berkley educated ego ;).

Jim himself is more relaxed knowing that he won’t come in until the foundation is complete on several songs and then he can just plug in and play them all the way through, where Justin plays the songs piece by piece; intro, verse, chorus, bridge, end.

Part of Bort’s magic is cutting/pasting and color coding each piece into his editing software, making each song look like a colorful EKG.  That’s an over simplification of what he does, trust me.  Every musician who knows anything about editing has been in awe watching him as he slices, dices and smooths out the rough edges.

There really is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to make a song CD worthy.  Some would think you could just sit down and play it all the way through (and some veteran musicians do), but just as a camera captures every mole, hair out of place and scar, the recording microphone picks up every slip, breath and popping sound…

Day 1 was an excellent start to this venture.  We laid the foundation for two of the ten songs and we all feel really good about it.  I had my little camera and my cell phone to capture some snippets to give you a fly on the wall perspective of how it went.  Enjoy and more to come~

PS – Have your ordered your copy of the limited edition CD?  For a short time we’ve extended the offer, so get yours now or don’t say we didn’t warn you~