Phil Lanier popped in to Camp Adventure to put some mandolin parts down on an in-process recording project. He also put some vocal harmonies on this John Prine tune for the upcoming Jesse McReynolds’ project.
Phil is a multi-instrumentalist that seems to fill any need in the studio. You can hear his fine fiddlin’ on some of the recent Stanley Brothers tunes we recorded with Cliff Hale.
12/7/2016 is Bobby Osborne’s 85th Birthday. He’s not the oldest guy on the Grand Ole Opry, Jesse McReynolds has him beat for that, but he’s still going strong.
The Selfishness in Man is a great song we recorded in 2000. This was the first thing Bobby had done with country instrumentation – it was a fantabulous “classic” country album featuring one of the greatest singers of all time, Bobby Osborne.
The picture above is NOT a picture of the Camp Adventure Recording studio, nor does it even resemble it, but, you know, most people, when they fantasize about recording, envision this as their environment. “I’ll sound like Bette Midler in that hot studio.”
I have to admit it’s beautiful, and I have worked in some of the best studios in the world in Nashville and elsewhere, and I love being in them. That said, I would would also enjoy dinner at Downton Abbey – Mrs. Patmore can surely cook, but in the end, if the ultimate judge is the outcome and managing some kind of budget, the opulence may not be your best route to the end result.
If it doesn’t feel like home, artists aren’t going to be relaxed, and if you are paying a bunch of money per hour and per day, you might feel pressured to “call it a wrap” when you know it really isn’t a wrap. Sometimes it just doesn’t have the feel that lets you, for that day, feel as though it is your recording studio. After visiting one tremendously over the top studio recently I joked with a client, “I’m not sure I could record here. I would feel like I was trespassing.”
The Camp Adventure studio is a small, proper acoustically treated studio that can get some jobs done better than a mega studio. That’s why guys like Josh Graves, Kenny Baker, Benny Martin, Vassar Clements, and many others have recordedhere. We can track small groups of people here, and it’s the perfect place for overdubs and vocal takes. We have a good sound-chain that includes great pre-amps and microphones. It’s a great room for recording acoustic instruments with its hardwood floor, proper bass traps, diffusers and sound panels. In short, it is a great place to record. That said, nothing about it is intended to compete with a full recording studio. Most everything is “inside the box,” and therefore not overly complicated or visually impressive, but it’s the resulting end-product that might blow you away.
We have an enormous library of tools that can give a project a big time feel. Often we use “plug-ins.” A plug-in is a digital formulation of hardware. It eliminates the need for the racks full of equipment that make a classic recording studio look so complex. The big advantage is session recall. If you/we mix your project in this environment, and want to tweak it later, which I can say we almost always do, all of the settings on all of the effects are still there for you and for us to work with. There’s not the time consuming and almost impossible process of resetting all of the external hardware to the original mix settings or trying to remember how it was set. “Oh, I think we had the threshold on this compressor at a -6db, and the compression ratio set for 4:1.”
We have the things that can make a project gel. If you want the “Abbey Road” sound, we can give you the classic effects modeled with the Abbey Road engineers, or if we want the sound of a Fairchild 670, the compressor behind many hit records in the vinyl era, we can do that. Of course we can’t afford the hardware, but we can get the sound. That’s the beauty of today’s recording environment. If you want a pre-digital “plate reverb,” it’s there, and that might be just the retro sound you need. We have over 35 compressors, and each has a different signature. Sure, we use some of the same ones repeatedly to get a target sound, but different instruments and voices need different tools. We have the toolbox and use many of the industry’s most popular equalizers, compressors, limiters, reverbs, and noise reduction tools. We can get a big sound, with layers of processing, or we can keep it completely simple and natural.
Keep in mind, in the old days each compressor or EQ was its own box, in a rack or on some kind of wall display. And other times the controls were placed on the Neve or SSL (Solid State Logic) console, those monstrously big and complicated mixing boards. Each had its own sound and producers became used to their placement on the channel strip. Until fairly recently, the recording scene was dominated by large format consoles feeding multi-track tape machines manufactured by companies like Studer. Both the equipment and the environment were expensive to source and maintain, making studio recording an expensive proposition. A series of developments have slowly eroded this position, and that’s where we come in.
We spend money where we have to spend it, but we try not to get on the hamster wheel of trying to constantly get the latest greatest snazzy outboard gear that impresses with colorful gear and flashing lights. We have what it takes to make you sound “BIG”, and in the end you can show your friends the picture of the studio above and tell them you didn’t need all that to sound like a star.
Most of our recordings that have been commercially released have been “tracked” in large and well-equipped studios and then completed here at the Camp Adventure studio. You can take a look at our “partner studios” in this area and beyond, and these are places we know you will love.
Take a listen to Vassar Clements’ recording of Cream’s “The White Room.” I recorded the original tracks including a scratch vocal at the now defunct Seventeen Grand recording studio in Nashville, and Vassar came to the Camp Adventure Studio and recorded his parts. John Cowan (Doobie Brothers, Sam Bush Band) recorded his lead vocal track in his own studio, and Billy Troy and I did the harmony vocals here at Camp Adventure later.
Today, more than ever, the world is flat. Technology allows us to work in ways we only imagined in the early 1990s. Let us help you bring your vision together. We know how to get the job done and we look forward to being your creative partner.
We Belong Together – Alan Abernethy This isn’t the kind of music you would expect from us. It’s pop music, and it was an entirely online composition (Kompoz). Electric guitar and banjo were recorded here. This song was written and is sung by Alan Abernethy in the United Arab Emirates, and was inspired by The Beatles. The final result is maybe what The Beatles might have sounded like if, God forbid, there had been a banjo in the band.
Alan Abernethy – Keyboards, Strings, Bass, Vocals. John Fussell – Electric Guitars Hugh Moore – Banjo, Mix
Cliff Hale and I (Hugh Moore) have a deep respect for the late, great Lefty Frizzell, an enormously influential country artist whose impact on country music seems terrifically underemphasized today. George Jones, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, George Strait, John Anderson, Randy Travis – they all thought of Lefty as a primary influence. On this recording we tried to recreate the Lefty sound using the basic instrumentation Lefty used. We did a whole project out of passion, but then decided to not release it because we realized, “who would buy it?” Aren’t we smart?
Cliff Hale – Lead Vocal, Guitar. Hugh Moore– Bass, Harmony Vocals, Mix. Tigar Bell – Fiddle, Drums. John Fussell – Electric Guitar. Adair Torres – Pedal Steel
Your Selfish Heart – Cliff Hale, Phil Lanier, Hugh Moore
Bluegrass Fans will recognize this Stanley Brothers song, and maybe even the Curly Ray Cline influenced fiddle break by Phil Lanier. You can never top the original recording of songs like this and of artists like The Stanley Brothers, but it is fun to record them in high-fidelity.
Phil Lanier – Fiddle, Mandolin, Tenor vocal. Cliff Hale – Guitar, Lead Vocal. Hugh Moore – Banjo, Bass, Baritone, Mix