Hot Guitars Are Cool, but Hot Guitars Are Not!
I’ll set the stage by saying that I decided to record my latest CD, Hula Girl Highway, (released July 29th) in Nashville. As you can imagine, a lot of pre-production work goes into maximizing efficiency when recording a CD. In addition, years of songwriting ideas, arrangements, lyrics, etc., are invested in order to get the best possible end product. Plus, if you want the best players and the best studio, you need to attend a lot of sessions. For this CD, I wanted to track analog to 2” tape. I wanted to work in a studio with that “funky old vibe,” a place with years of history with great music by great artists just oozing from the rafters. I found it all at Bayou Studio right on Music Row.
At the same time, I was looking for just the right person to be the production coordinator and I found him on Music Row as well, Dennis Wage. This dude is bad to the bone, best B3 player ever. The next task(s) is to book the studio, the band and a place to stay (months ahead), and then scurry home to get ready. I worked out all the material with my band. I recorded work tapes in my studio and rehearsed, rehearsed, rehearsed. My point is, it takes a lot of time and effort to get ready. It’s necessary but it pays off!
Finally the day arrives and we pack the van with 6 guitars, a mandolin, my National steel, special Class A tube amps, pedal board, Amy’s congas, rub-board and all her percussion stuff. Satisfied that we are as prepared as we can be, we happily set off, psyched to hear the new songs come together. Cool.
Now I am thinking, while I’m driving the 11 hours from Norfolk to Nashville. that I would hate to get broken into (Nashville is notorious for it). So, I call up Bayou and make arrangements to drop off all the big stuff the night we arrive (thanks George). Next, it’s off to the hotel room to unload all the guitars, and then to meet up with Dennis to go over all the arrangement, charts, schedule, etc. We finish up at 11 pm and can relax a bit as the session isn’t until 2 the following afternoon. Back at the hotel we bring in more stuff, computers, etc., leaving only a couple of bags whose contents were of no value to anyone else (yea, but how would anyone else know that?) I still have one song not quite finished and one that’s bugging really me - I know I can make it better. I pass out at midnight and wake up at 5AM with the solution to the song that’s bothering me in my head. Being the nice guy I am, and trying to stay happily married, I grab a guitar and go out to the van to work out this part of the song so as not to wake up Amy.
By 6:30 AM I have it figured out and stumble back to bed. Amy leaves at 8AM to go for a run and comes back to tell me the van’s been broken into, glass is everywhere and the side window is gone. I quickly deduced that they must have seen me carrying a guitar in or out and thought there were more. Luckily they didn’t get any instruments. What they did get, however, was my briefcase with ALL the arrangements, lyrics, bits and pieces of songs on scraps of paper that I’ve been collecting for years as well as an old duffle bag that had pedals, cords, spare strings, stands and a lifetime collection of my special slides, picks, etc. Maybe it was nothing of value to anyone else, but it’s still expensive to replace. Ugh! Consequently, the peaceful morning was broken and consumed with the police report, finger printing and trying to get a window replaced. Session time was fast approaching as was a deluge of a rainstorm. Amy spent the first track in the parking lot with the window guy so we had to dub her in later. Tape is rolling and the money pot is draining so you can’t stop.
But here’s the real point of the story, and if I get a little preachy here, that’s too bad! But I have to ask this question, and I direct it to any musician that has ever bought hot gear: WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU???
In Nashville (and everywhere else) the pawn shops are filled with stolen stuff. I encourage you to Boycott them! If your local Joe or Jane Crackhead comes along with a “great deal,” just tell them where to shove it. Better yet, get the serial # and give it to the cops. It might be your piece next time. Do not be a part of feeding the monster. There is little that really gets me pissed off, except thieves. I’ve got no use for them, and neither should you. Buying hot gear doesn’t rate too high in my book either.
Well, anyway, I took a little time to get back a good music ‘head’ and started recording a kick ass CD. I’ll come back with some of the stories from the recording sessions of “Hula Girl Highway” in the next article.