No better resource for songwriters to record their music exists than the musicians in Nashville TN, and this resource is available to you.
Unforgettable was the day back in 1981 when I first experienced the almost indescribable moment when a team of seasoned Nashville musicians bring a song to life. I had been in Nashville for less than a year, in way over my head playing music in the company of legendary studio musicians, when Jerry Shook suggested we record a demo of a song of mine I had played for him. He and his partner Hoyet Henry (one of the many unsung geniuses that town has known) assembled a team of players and within minutes had discovered so much more in that little song than I could have imagined: the inner rhythmic pulse I had barely hinted at, the opportunity for a richer chord or two, a little surprise in the bass line, a memorable guitar hook fashioned from the bones of my melody. Had I been sitting down to tell a story, these musicians would have provided the cozy fireplace, the comfy chairs, the hushed evening, the glow that would light up the listeners’ faces. To a painter they’d have provided not just the frame and matte, but the higher grade of oil, the lusher canvas, the southern exposure, even the gallery’s spotlight.
This is what we studio musicians learned to do. Sure, playing ones instrument well, maintaining one’s technique, is absolutely imperative; a knowledge of all styles and musical idioms a given; a cooperative, energetic spirit essential; an arranger’s perspective expected. But above all, a respect for the song, no matter how simple, how quirky, an ability to find all the musical opportunities a song contains: this is what sets the training ground that is Nashville apart from other music centers. And a rigorous training ground it is: no one there has a career just playing an instrument at a world-class level.
The cost: not inexpensive, but far lower than one might expect. There is a Nashville Musician’s Union scale for Songwriter Demo recordings, as well as Limited Pressing and Low Budget scale for singer/songwriters’ and singers’ CD projects that make it possible to produce radio-ready material for about $1000 per song (more or less depending on style, production values, number of musicians, whether or not lead or back-up singers are used).
Below some pictures of some of my favorite players in action at Studio 19, The Sound Kitchen, Bayou Recording, CTM. Do you have a favorite player whose work you admire? There’s a good chance I can arrange to have him/her play on your track.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for help booking your Nashville session.
A partial list of some of the Nashville players I’ve worked with over the years:
Chris Leuzinger, Kerry Marx, Bryan Sutton, Danny Parks, David Grier, Kenny Vaughn, Bill Hullett, Harold Bradley, Pete Huttlinger, Jerry Kimbrough, Russ Barenberg, Jerry Shook, Paul Worley, John Knowles, Andy Reuiss, Russ Pahl, Robert Bowlin, Larry Chaney, Ron Block, Mike Severs, Mike Noble, Billy Panda, Jack Daniels, John Pell, Bruce Dees, George McCorkle
Wayne Killius, Kenny Malone, Milton Sledge, Tommy Wells, Bob Mater, Walter Hartman, John Gardner, Owen Hale, Gene Chrisman, Chris Brown, Terry Waddell, Sam Bacco, Andy Peake, Steve Ebe, David Humphreys, Pat McInerney, Kirby Shelstad, Dann Sherill, Ray Von Rotz, Rick Vanaugh, Mike Young, Hayward Bishop
Larry Franklin, Glen Duncan, Jonathan Yudkin, Hoot Hester, Robert Bowlin, Aubrey Haynie, Matt Combs, Buddy Spicher, Barbara Lamb, Joe Spivey, Kenny Sears, Tim Lorsch, Craig Duncan, Bill Verdier, Peter Hyrka, Tom Morley, Fats Kaplin, Andrea Zonn, David Coe , Wanda Vick, Richard Kane
Jeff Taylor, Gary Prim, Jamie Whiting, Joey Miskulin, Steve Willets, Jeff Lisenby, Jay Vern, Jeff Steinberg, Michael Behymer, Beegie Adair, Willie Rainsford, Dean Slocum, Catherine Styron, Mike Zikovich, Jo-el Sonder, Clayton Ivey, Al De Lory, John Probst, Tom McBryde
Mike Chapman, Dennis Crouch, Byron House, David Spicher, David Roe, John Vogt, Mark Powelson, Dave Pomeroy, Victor Wooten, Roy Vogt, David Hungate, Craig Nelson, Sam Oliva, John Ownby, Joe Murphy, Chuck Sanders, Terry Smith, Mark Shatz, Roger Spencer, Bob Wray, Hubert Knight, Bob Burns, Larry Crew, Spady Brannon, Hoyet Henry
Buck White, Aubrey Haynie, Dave Talbot, Tim O’Brien, Tony Scott, Larry McNeely, Matt Combs, Robert Bowlin, John Mock, Richard Bailey, Scott Neubert, Rob Ickes, Gene Wooten, Charlie Cushman
Lloyd Green, Sonny Garrish, Doug Jernigan, Tommy Hannum, Paul Franklin, Russ Pahl, Jim Hoke, Bruce Bouton, Mike Cass, Mike Doucette, Bobby Seymour, Pat Severs, Stu Basore, Mike Jones
Dennis Solee, Sam Levine, Jim Hoke, Rex Peer, Don Sheffield, David Hungate, Roy Agee, Doug Moffet, Cole Burgess, Jay Patten, Matt Davich, Robbie Shankle
Back-up Singers/Demo lead singers:
Kathy Chiavola, Tim Buppert, Gretchen Wilson, Dierks Bentley, Ron Wallace, Buddy Jewell, Butch Baker, Jeff Allen, Tracy Nelson, Terri Williams, Dusty Drake, Juli Maners, Kim Parent