Studio Stories 1


I recorded a duo one time, a male and female. The male singer came by himself to the first session we had and we laid down the ground work for all of their songs. When he was done, he had a rough vocal and a guitar with simple drums track for each song. He was a good singer and sang most of the lead parts, and she did most of the background vocals. I laid down the instruments and they came back to do final vocals.

They sounded very good together and while she was no Celine Dion, she harmonized well with him. As the project was winding down, there was one song left and she was going to be the lead singer on this one. I had a studio at that time that had the control room and the main recording room separated by a wall with a big piece of glass in it so the people in the two rooms could see each other fine, but sound would not travel through the separating wall. We could hear the person recording, but they could only hear what was being said in the headphones from the control room if I pushed the talk back button.

I hit play and record and she started singing. I was at the console, she was at the mic looking right at me on the other side of the glass and he was between us a bit off to the side with his back to me looking at her through the glass and encouraging her with big smiles and thumbs up. Well, the first line wasn’t done and he started waving his arms all over the place. I stopped the tape and he said “we need to try that again” so I pushed the talk back button and he told her to “concentrate and we’ll do it again”.

This happened about three times, each time we didn’t even get to the end of the first line and his arms were a flailing all over the place. After about the third try, he turned around (facing me with his back to her) and said (with eyes bigger than Jimmy Dean sausages) “holy sh*t, she can’t sing a note” and just shook his head. He was in a state of ‘I can’t believe this is happening’ sort of thing.

By now she is seeing the conversation between him and me, and says “whats going on in there” and he told me to hang tight and went in to try to talk her out of doing the song.

(I have to add here that this was long before I had any way to fix pitch.)

She was having none of it.

After about an hour they came back into the control room and she had obviously won the fight.

He was as red as an American Flyer, let out a big sigh, and we resumed to record the song. I tried a few tricks and we salvaged the song. And yes, they remained married and the recording sounded great.


I had a studio once on the square of a small Midwestern town. Nice large place. My wife and I would host a Saturday night coffee house there once a month. We’d bring in a bunch of tables and chairs, put up a small stage and a couple of spotlights and sell coffee and snacks. We charged an admission, and we had local talent perform for the crowd. We had an emcee and some comedy acts. The selling point is that I would record the whole show, and it would be played on Sunday morning on the local radio station. It was our local version of Prairie Home Companion. We would have 60 to 100 folks in there sometimes.

After the show, I usually was able to get the mixing and editing done by midnight and we would run the CD the next morning in time for the station to play it on the radio. The show was always 1 ½ to 2 hours long.

On one fateful night we had some technical difficulties, and the closing act was a bluegrass band. They were very good. They played eight or ten songs. Because of some problems with some hard drives I ended up finishing the mixing and editing just in time to get the CD to the station at show time. I was tired. Really tired. It ran on the radio but I never listened to the show cause I was wiped out.

I saw the leader of the band a few weeks later and we said our hellos, and he told how good he thought the show went. Then he paused and said, “ya know, the show sounded great on the radio but they played the same song of ours over and over.”

Not sure what to say at that point and realizing that in my trying to stay awake stupor, I must have made a huge mistake and edited in six or eight of the same song into the bands set, I just commented “you know how those radio DJ’s are sometimes. To them one bluegrass song sounds like the rest”.

Author: Chad