I ran the little studio in Minneapolis for a while, and did some sound engineering with a band around town, but the goal was to put together a group and go on the road. An incredibly talented lady showed up at my door answering the add I had placed in a trade paper looking for a lead singer/ instrumentalist. We formed a band, went on the road for a while and ended up getting married. (You can read the story about meeting Terri for the first time here)
When we got married, we moved back to my home town and got jobs for a while, wanting to start a family. But we dabbled in music. I still had the studio set up in the house and we were working on my wife’s first record, a project that I inherited when we were married. She released the recording and really got quite a buzz going about it. Local stations were playing songs from the recording and we formed a band to promote the recording.
We decided to make a trip to Nashville to see if we could get some sort of interest in Terri’s record. She had done some homework and set up a dozen or so appointments with promoters, managers and record people. It was a big learning experience. We came home dejected but smarter (I think) and kept moving ahead.
Around this time, something very fortuitous happened. A friend of my wife suggested that we might consider doing a record of children’s lullabies. We both loved folk music that was acoustic guitar driven and Terri’s voice was perfect for the genre. We released ‘Water Color Ponies’ in 1990. It was a watershed moment for us. We started a record company and off we ran.
By this time, I was really starting to hit my stride as a producer/engineer/one man band. While working on ‘Water Color Ponies’ and the followup recording ‘Orange Tea And Molasses’ I had begun to perfect how I was to record records for long time after that. We spent a long time on each of those records. Both of those recordings had much more information on them than could be handled by one guy with an eight track recording system.
I learned to stripe one of the outside tracks with a time code, and then converted it to a midi signal that a sequencer could follow, basically adding 7 more tracks. The sequencer held all of the keyboard, drum and percussion information, and would store it on a floppy disk. I could record all the basic instruments and add some orchestration or other embellishments all by myself. It was a pretty interesting experimental playground. I used that same technique with a 16 track tape machine and 16 tracks of digital recording, but bumped my sequence tracks up to 32 to give me the possibility of 47 tracks to record on.
The next ten or so years were very exciting and productive, as I grew in my abilities in the studio and Terri showed herself as a powerhouse writer.
Next time I’ll talk about some equipment and some of the strategies and ideas I’ve developed over the years.