Catching up, May 2017

Here’s a problem with a blog-type website: I get so busy making music with all the wonderful people who come through my studio doors that I have no time to chronicle it all.  I promise I’ll catch up soon with more formal postings with pics and clips, but here’s a brief look at what’s been happening:

Carrigan and Blair are back with a very enjoyable project, a maritime folk music collection with a distinctly American flavor (as opposed to Celtic).  The lads are singing in beautiful harmony, and I’m accompanying them with Travis-style finger picking guitar, some 20s/30s arch-top chomping, tenor banjo and mandolin.  I’m always hesitant to let rough mixes out (no harmony vocals yet on this) but I just love the feel of this one, so here goes:

Local songwriter Dick Gsottschneider has started working with me on getting his backlog of charming material recorded.  Once again, I’m being entrusted with production chores and grateful for it-what a joy to set these stories into a musical frame. Here’s one on which I played all the instruments except for my long-time Nashville colleague Jeff Taylor‘s piano part:

And here’s Matt Combs and Jeff going Cajun:

My long-time buddy Jim Hoke added clarinet to my banjo, guitar, bass and drums on this cute thing:
Sarah Jane Nelson has been in the studio completing her tribute to the music collected in the Ozarks by Max Hunter, with fiddler Ellen Carlson and Bob Phillips joining his guitar with hers.

There have been more voice-over recordings, for Irving Oil, Matlab, Peter Worrell and others.

Leslie and Peter Van Berkum have added a few nice new things to their ongoing project with vocals, guitar and concertina.  I love their version of Besame Mucho.

Mandolinist Alan Epstein has completed a mesmerizing CD of mellow instrumentals featuring his mandolin and my accompaniment on DADGAD guitar.  We’ll be celebrating the disc’s release on June 17th in Colebrook NH at the Tillotson Center for the Arts.  Here is the title track, Alan’s beautiful composition Sunset on Meriden Hill.  I can totally hear this on a movie soundtrack:

World-renowned clawhammer banjo specialist Ken Perlman is almost finished with his unique take on the fiddle music of Prince Edward Island.  Banjo playing fiddle tunes? It can be done, and is marvelously here with Janine Randall’s piano on some cuts and my guitar on others.

Skip Gorman is known all over the world as a Cowboy singer with a deep repertoire and whose instrumental skills on Bill Monroe-style mandolin and vintage Jimmie Rodgers-style guitar are major league.  His Celtic fiddle playing is equally remarkable, and the work goes on with a sprawling foray into the Irish, Scottish and Canadian repertoire. Pianist Gordon Peery, guitar/bouzouki wizard, my pal David Surette and I are Skip’s partners in this adventure and I’ve had to buy a few extra hard-drives to accommodate all these bytes of great music!

Tere Kipp is a singer-songwriter, story-teller and educator who is producing a fabulous children-oriented video series. We’ve cut a bunch of tracks with Jordan Tirrell-Wysocki’s stellar young trio supporting some fun material. Here’s one-sooo scary!!

Lindsay Straw: Traditional Folk with fresh expertise!

Superb instrumental skills on guitar and bouzouki, a keen ear for repertoire selection, new takes on centuries-old stories and a clear, sparkling voice make this project everything a folk audience can hope for. Music from the past has a bright future!

Lindsay‘s thoughtful preparation prior to the recording dates ensured an efficient use of time, keeping costs low and energy levels high.

Some of my formative years in music were spent under the thrall of the iconic folk guitarists who found their home in London’s Soho folk club, Les Cousins, where I spent many an all-nighter as a teenager absorbing the music of Martin Carthy, Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, John Martyn, and ex-pats Stephan Grossman and of course my best friend and musical mentor Marc Sullivan.  This music of Lindsay’s takes me back to that intense moment in musical time.  Thanks, Lindsay!


Chris Vaughan: Portsmouth’s ‘Great Scot’!

One of the first projects that came to me at Mill Pond Music about five years ago involved my adding a few guitar parts to and mixing the Dave Hallowell-produced CD by Portsmouth’s Scot-about-town, bon vivant Chris Vaughan.  There’s now a new collection of his songs, ‘Americana 1974’. The production is in a folk-country vein, yours truly playing all the instruments, with bluesy overtones (there’s a long tradition of great Scottish blues singers-think Jack Bruce, Ian Anderson, Sheena Easton etc.).

chris-v-press-room chris-v-press-room-2

Next Nashville production trip on the calendar

July 15-17 2017 or so.  Plenty of time to get some material ready to put in the hands of the Nashville Cats!

From my October 2016 sessions pictured here are Jeff Taylor at the keys, Chris Leuzinger on guitar and Wayne Killius on drums, at Nashville’s Sound Kitchen/Studio 19 with Kyle Hershman at the big Neve console.  We recorded five of New York songwriter David A. Stewart’s songs with production, contracting musicians, preparing charts and acoustic guitar chores falling to yours truly.  Demos, yes, but sounding like radio-ready tracks at well under $1000/song.

Mill Pond Music : the Voice of Matlab

Everyone in the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics knows Mathworks and its offshoot Matlab.  Their tutorial videos are concise, engaging and entertaining, and MPM Studio right here in Portsmouth is happy to contribute its pristine voice-over signal chain to their outstanding quality.  The vintage restored Neumann U 87, arguably the most well-know and respected broadcast microphones ever made, along with an ultra-clean channel of Millenia preamplification and the super-quiet total isolation and acoustic accuracy of our Live Room (not to mention the keen ear for language and syntax possessed by the, uh, engineer): these elements yield a voice-over product far beyond what is possible in the all-too-familiar bedroom studio equipped with budget knock-off mic, inexpensive computer interface and curtains-blankets-closet-style acoustic treatment.

And it’s not just Matlab. National Public Radio, NHPR, Audible Books and a major audio company so huge and brand-conscious I can’t reveal its name (you know who I mean) are among the many spoken word clients that have chosen to stay with the idea of using a ‘real’ studio.

Erica Brown and Matt Shipman: Darlin’ Corey

A couple more great musicians from Portland’s happening music scene, Matt and Erica,  are releasing this month a collection of duo recordings featuring their plaintive, evocative vocals, Erica’s wonderful old-timey, country and celtic fiddle, Matt’s rich and nimble guitar, bouzouki and banjo.  I’ve had the pleasure of working with Matt when I’ve subbed with High Range, and am a huge fan of Erica’s deep, instinctive understanding of country fiddle.  Sweet vocals, too!   

 

 

 

 

Carrigan & Blair

Full disclosure:  I know Mike Blair and Steve Carrigan well, having played many a gig and concert with them as a part of Portsmouth’s Maritime/Celtic Folk ensemble Great Bay Sailor.   Great fun it was to blast through some of the songs we love on this new collection entitled O Chroi.  Thanks, Mike for giving me free rein to do all the instrumental work.  Beautiful singing, lads!

Steve-Carrigan-Press-Room-CropMike-Blair-Press-Room-Crop

 

Cathy Wilson: Celtic Folk in Cookeville TN

sound-kitchen-with-cathy-wilsonOut of the blue, while waiting for a plane at the Nashville airport, I got a call from Cathy.  She had found the Mill Pond Music Studio website on line, had seen all the Celtic Tribute Series CDs I’d produced and had read about all the wonderful Celtic acts that have found their way to my workspace, but had just realized I was no longer based in Nashville near her hometown 90 miles away.  No problem!  A couple of weeks ago, while on one of my regular trips to Nashville, John Mock, Jeff Taylor, Bill Verdier and I had the great pleasure of tracking a few of her beautiful songs, framing her sweet voice with fiddle, tin whistle, Irish drum, mandolin, DADGAD guitar and a few other things.   Listen to one of the tracks, which I mixed back up here.  Thanks, Cathy, for the opportunity to do what we love to do!

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/251746917″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”50%” height=”80″ iframe=”true” /]

Jim’s Performance Schedule

 

Jim Prendergast with David Surette, Jeff Warner, Jeff Taylor & Buddy Greene @ Rira in Portsmouth NH.

 

 

May 6: Brickstore Museum Kennebunk ME w/Emery Hutchins  7pm

May 7: Barley House North Hampton NH w/Great Bay Sailor 5-8 p.m.

May 8: Radisson Manchester NH Business and the Arts Awards w/Melissa Caron

May 11: Stone Church Newmarket NH  Irish Music Night  w/Jordan Tirrell-Wysocki 6-9 p.m.

May 14: Barley House North Hampton NH w/Great Bay Sailor 5-8 p.m.

May 18: Stone Church Newmarket NH  Irish Music Night  w/Jordan Tirrell-Wysocki 6-9 p.m.

May 21: Barley House North Hampton NH w/Great Bay Sailor 5-8 p.m.

May 22: Holden MA w/Two Old Friends 1 pm

May 25: Firehouse Theater Newburyport MA with Great Bay Sailor 7 pm

May 28: Barley House North Hampton NH w/Great Bay Sailor 5-8 p.m.

June 1: Stone Church Newmarket NH  Irish Music Night  w/Jordan Tirrell-Wysocki 6-9 p.m.

June 4: Barley House North Hampton NH w/Great Bay Sailor 5-8 p.m.

June 8: Caffé Lena Saratoga Springs NY w/Alan Epstein 7-9 p.m.

June 11: Barley House North Hampton NH w/Great Bay Sailor 5-8 p.m.´

June 15: Stone Church Newmarket NH  Irish Music Night  w/Jordan Tirrell-Wysocki 6-9 p.m.

June 17th: Tillotson Ctr. for the Arts Colebrook NH Alan Epstein, mandolinist CD release concert

June 18: Barley House North Hampton NH w/Great Bay Sailor 5-8 p.m.

June 22: Stone Church Newmarket NH  Irish Music Night  w/Jordan Tirrell-Wysocki 6-9 p.m.

June 24: Strawberry Fest, S. Berwick ME w/ Great Bay Sailor -afternoon show

June 25: Barley House North Hampton NH w/Great Bay Sailor 5-8 p.m.

June 29: Stone Church Newmarket NH  Irish Music Night  w/Jordan Tirrell-Wysocki 6-9 p.m.

July 2: Barley House North Hampton NH w/Great Bay Sailor 5-8 p.m.

July 9: John Paul Jones House, Portsmouth NH w/Great Bay Sailor 2 p.m.

 

John Carew: Boston’s Celtic Folk troubador

John is one of the first musicians I met when I started exploring the idea of moving back to New England from Nashville.  I think it was in 2005, just after spending a wonderful week in upstate NY accompanying world-renowned fiddler Craig Duncan, a long-time colleague who was being inducted into the Northeast Fiddler’s Hall of Fame.  I stepped into a Portsmouth Irish Pub, Quigley’s (Tony Giblin was the proprietor) and landed in my very first Irish music session.  John was gracious and welcoming and it’s been a delight to work with him on this collection of well chosen, delicately and movingly performed songs. Boston’s pre-eminent Irish fiddler Laurel Martin, multi-instrumentalist Mark Roberts, Chris ‘Junior’ Stevens are among the fine players gracing the project.

DSCF0460DSCF0517 DSCF0483

Mt. Philo: Young Folk-Rockers from Middlebury VT

Mt Philo CDIt started with an urgent call from mandolinist/dobroist Eli Orland- his band Mt Philo’s fall break recording session at a studio in CT had fallen through at the last minute, and might I be able to accommodate them in a couple of days for a long-anticipated weekend of recording.  Eli had found me through a Nashville connection we share, and thanks to the flexibility of some valued clients who were willing to re-schedule, we spent three music-packed days producing an exuberant and highly creative 5-song EP capturing their up-to-the-minute take on the far from outmoded Folk-Rock genre.Eli Live RoomMatt behind console12065561_1677132252498697_689519412962336602_n

Fodhla- Fine Irish music trio

UnknownI’ve known Nicole Rabata for 5 years and had many a lovely Irish tune session in her company.  She’s a fine flute payer and true pro, and Ifodhla‘m very grateful that she chose to bring in her companions in this lovely 6-tune project, Ellery Klein on fiddle and Bethany Waickman on DADGAD guitar to record here at MPM Studio.  Here’s a little taste-everything I love about Irish music:

 

Fall update

Lots happening this past summer into fall:  new CDs by John Carew, Skip Gorman, Annie Eastman Young, Gus LaCasse, song demos by Abbi White, Greg Lull, Brandon Harris, Brin Banta,  Portland Irish flutist Nicole Rabata‘s trio, a recent production trip to Nashville, and more- I’ll try to post some music and photos soon.

Nashville’s Studio 19, one of my favorite places to record, has new digs in what was formerly The Sound Kitchen. Great sound diffusion, mammoth Neve console, and of course Kyle Hershman, engineer extraordinaire.  Made some wonderful music there recently.

IMG_0293

Riptide: America’s Contra Dance Band!

rt_picSomething about the unselfconsciousness of making music purely for dancing has brought out the best in this group of stellar Portland ME based traditional musicians: Alden Robinson, Owen Marshall and Glen Loper,  joined by the Contradance world’s leading percussionist Mark ‘Pokey’ Hellenberg. Contra dance aficionados will instantly recognize that this collection represents the apex of the genre’s musicianship.  Those who have never even heard of Contra dance will appreciate the vitality of this ear-catching, toe-tapping blend of Celtic/Canadian/Old-Timey American styles.  Give ’em a listen!

Eric McDonald & Ryan McKasson- Scottish fiddle and guitar

Eric‘s brought several projects to the studio in the last few months.  This latest, with stellar West Coast Scottish/Cape Breton-style fiddler Ryan McKasson is just sweet.  Listen!ryanbig

Jordan Tirrell-Wysocki Trio: High-Energy Celtic

It’s here!  Jordan’s new trio CD release party packed the legendary Stone Church in Newmarket NH. I got there for the last few songs after a grueling run of St. Pat’s gigs and was knocked out by their larger-than-life sound.  I immediately started to wonder-did the CD manage to capture that energy in the recording process?  A quick reference to a sound clip on Jordan’s website reassured me that it’s all there (except for their dynamic stage presence).

Full disclosure: Jordan and I are frequent musical partners with our regular Irish Music Night Thursdays at the Stone Church. He keeps me on my toes!

CD_coverIn any case, I was delighted to be entrusted with this exciting project, the mastering of which was also left in my hands.  My new audiophile-quality Millennia Tube Stereo mastering EQ and Summit tube mono EQ came through with flying colors, and I’m now much less hesitant to offer mastering services to clients who can’t afford, say, Gateway.