Finally, the sun is shining! A couple of years ago, we celebrated the beginning of summer by doing an impromtu gig at our kids’ school…What a ball, out in the sunshine, a big barbeque billowing savoury smoke over the crowd, dancing children. Magical.
June 21st, 2012
I want to tell you about my most recent studio experiences..It’s been an incredible, exciting time.
We (I should clarify here that “we” refers to my husband, guitarist, writer, producer and all around great guy, Robbie Steininger-we make alot of music together-and myself) have had the incredible good fortune to work in the brand new, world class recording facility CREW studios in North Vancouver…Unlike so many “old school” studios which are dark, gloomy, no light, no air kind of places, CREW is a lovely, bright, fresh place to make music!
First I got together for some pre-pre-production with my new buddy and engineer genius, Mike Cashin. Mike is a guy of exceedingly few words, but the words he chooses to use are dead on target and always get the point across. The reason he needs few words is that he’s actually able to read minds- at least he can read MINE for sure, which is why I started calling him Radar (for Radar O’Reilly, anybody remember the old MASH TV show?)…
So Radar and I are sat under the skylights at CREW and worked out the “bones” of the songs we’d decided to record. It didn’t take long. Like I said, the guy can read minds.
Next I was introduced to producer Dean Maher. I was nervous! This is a guy with a very impressive track record (ha, pun intended, I didn’t see that coming till I wrote it down) and I was hoping he’d agree to work on my music. Happily, he found it to be up his alley, so to speak, and we got to work.
Dean is another man of few words, and great ears. He gets so much accomplished so quickly and so quietly that I’ve vowed to try not to talk so much, in order to see if I become more productive. So far it’s not working well…Anyway, we decided to invite some friends of mine up to play on the record. Some of you know I’ve been lucky enough to hang out with Bruce Hornsby and his band on occasion. Every year or so, my best friend and I head down to Seattle or Oregon or wherever they’re playing, take in a show and hang out for awhile. I’ve always been flattered that they like what I do, so when the chance came for me to start recording again, I called up Bruce’s rhythm section, bass player Jervonny (JV) Collier (The Pointer Sisters, The 5th Dimension, Bruce Hornsby) and drummer/percussionist Sonny Emory (Lee Ritenour, Earth Wind and Fire, Bruce Hornsby). They both agreed on the spot. Happy me!
Sonny was touring with Lee Ritenour and it didn’t fit into his schedule, but he agreed to do the tracks for us where he was, and send them up. JV would fly up here to Vancouver. We met him at the airport the night before the session and went out for dinner. Even though I’d spent time with JV in the past and always enjoyed his company, it was WONDERFUL to have such a nice long stretch of time to get reaquainted, swap stories, and have him get to know Robbie. That is an EPIC thing, to see two phenomenal musicians meet, and over the course of the next 24 hours become complete musical brothers…It’s a cliche, but that’s when it really does feel like a family.
The next day in the studio was one of the best in my life. We had Sonny’s drum tracks to work with, and JV and Robbie were joined by the incomparable Miles Black on piano and keyboards. I was in a room filled with so much astounding musical talent, it was almost overwhelming.
I was overcome with so much emotion that I sang really badly on the reference vocals, thank goodness those aren’t the ones that end up on the album! The best part is, not only are all these people talented, incredibly so, but their hearts and generosity are even more abundant. Musicians and gentlemen. What a concept…;)
I had a few days to get used to the new tracks before going in to do my vocal parts. Talk about a musical kick in the butt- working with this band really “upped the ante” on my vocal performance. I leaned hard on Dean Maher to guide me to do my best work. I’m pretty pleased with how it all turned out….
Some wonderful relationships were forged over the making of these first songs. I hope you can hear it when you listen to them…-MM
First blog. Stardate June 20th, 2012….
How am I to introduce myself to you? Shall I begin with what I love the most in the world (music, my family, books, dogs, honesty, philosophy, friends, writing, wrangling with human emotion)? Or what I can’t stand (short list- insincerity)?
As someone who pours out so much of my inner self in my job, I suppose you’ll glean a lot of what I’m about while listening to my music. To be clear, not all the stories in my songs are from my own life. I absorb things from other people’s experiences too.
It’s important for you to understand that people are my job. Trying to understand people and write down what I learn, first on paper, then into a microphone, then I share what I’ve learned with you, in the form of a song…
The things we humans share, what brings us together, what small things come up between us, can either be a breaking point or the grain of sand that irritates the oyster just enough to create a pearl….;) That’s where I begin.
And, I might add, making music just feels so freaking good I can’t NOT do it.