The End Of The Line

I have been blessed beyond imagination to work with a man from Dubuque Iowa. His name is Lou Fautsch.

Lou and I have had a long and very fulfilling relationship.

We met some 30 plus years ago when his group, the ‘Unstrung Heroes’ were looking for a studio to record their album.

The initial contact was made by Paul, a member of the group, and we got along fine, and he told me he would return with a few of his band mates.

At the next meeting, one of the band members was none other than Lou himself. Lou was a serious musician, and had been taken to the cleaners so to speak by an earlier business relationship with a local studio owner.

Long story short, the studio dude took Lou’s money and used it for gambling at the dog track (apparently he confessed to the deed) as opposed to mixing, mastering and reproducing said amount of cassettes that Lou and the group had ordered (Apparently the project was paid in full in advance).

So by the time I met Lou and company, Lou was… Let’s say wary at best.

He grilled me. I responded with two basic ideas.

First off you have to understand that I was competing against a studio that had pretty much the same equipment I offered, but was about twenty minutes closer to Lou and his band than I was. And to be quite honest, He had a much more eloquent setup than I had.

He had converted an old 100+ year old church into a recording studio. Had good equipment, and was a really nice fellow. He had actually hired me to come in a do some mixing for him.

The atmosphere at his studio was to die for, from my stand point. A huge stone church with all the amenities of a modern studio in the basement. It was a cool place.

But he lacked one thing, and that was he wasn’t an engineer or a producer. He had the place, the equipment, and the were with all to record folks, but unfortunately, not the skill set.

So to allude to my first response, Lou asked (quite seriously I may add) “why would we (the band) use you (me) and not this guy (other studio) who is closer to us and has the same equipment as you?”

I responded by saying two things.

First, recording music is what I do. Period. I’m a musician, engineer and producer.

My second point was that you can have two different carpenters with the same exact tools and one can be a hack and the other be an artist. A shack or a dream house.

I encouraged Lou and the band to listen to work from both myself and the other studio and then make a decision.

I ended up getting the job for the Unstrung Heroes and many relationships have developed from that job.

The most endearing relationship was with Lou. I became his life long producer and default band for many years. I created numerous tracks for Lou. I was his guitarist, bass player, keyboardist, drummer and muti-instrumentalist. I recorded (engineered) and produced most all of his work from that time to present.

We did hire outside musicians from time to time for certain instruments, or background vocals.

We have had a great run, and have become best of friends.

I think we’ve recorded 24 full length albums.

Lou went from recording with the Unstrung Heroes to recording some of his own particularly fantastic folk music to recording a series of records that were based on Iowa History.

These albums about Iowa history were absolutely astounding in every sense of the word. Lou was a history teacher in the Iowa public school system and had an incredible grasp on Iowa history, especially as it pertained to the Dubuque area.

His love and understanding of Iowa/Dubuque history is documented through these songs and are and will continue to be a very serious resource for those looking to tap into the culture history of Dubuque and Iowa in general.

So Lou and I created many, many fine recordings.

As time went on, Lou decided that he wanted to record some of the songs from his love of the older rockabilly/ country/ early rock era.

We reproduced songs from artists like the ‘Beach Boys’ ‘Johnny Cash’ ‘Buddy Holly’ and the like.

Lou in the studio

Lou has always been a musical encyclopedia of that era, and we enjoyed ourselves immensely.

The End Of The Line

We’ve come (maybe?) to our last hurrah.

We recorded 13 songs this last spring. Lou is adding 40 or so other songs he’s recorded in the past to make a two CD set.

It was a good recording session, and we both enjoyed ourselves greatly. Through the years we’ve adopted a way of recording that suits us… We work hard but allow time for camaraderie and some encouraging conversation. After we were done, I went about the business of finishing everything and letting Lou listen to the songs.

Lou and myself working on ‘End Of The Line’

After a few adjustments, we had the new songs recorded and now was the task of editing 52 songs that span a career of over thirty years, together into two CD’s.

Lou called the album ‘The End Of The Line’.

On a technical note, as I edited these songs from different era’s of our work, my first thought was to ‘re-master’ some of the older songs to make them sound more polished and thus would sit alongside the newer songs more comfortably. These songs almost trace exactly the technological advancements that my studio has undergone through the years. From half inch eight track to one inch sixteen track to Akai stand alone hard drive recorders to computer based DAW in which I use Pro Tools. And yes I used every one of those formats recording Lou throughout the years.

As I pondered the editing, I decided to leave history alone. I basically only adjusted the volumes of the songs, and gave some of the oldest songs, (chronologically speaking) a small amount of gentle compression. I also had to work within the time restraints of a compact disc. The replicator said we should shoot for under seventy four minutes total for each CD. So I tried to make the breaks between songs comfortable but keep within the seventy four minutes.

I’ll share one little snag along the way: Through the years, Lou has sometimes re written and re recorded songs, using the same song name (this is a guy that has recorded hundreds of songs). Also, he has recorded more than one version of some songs of other artists that he has covered.

When Lou gave me the final list for the CD’s, there were one or two such songs. He did tell me the original recording that the song was used on, but not realizing at the time there was more than one version floating around, I used whatever copy of the song that I still had on my hard drive, not realizing at the moment that we had done two versions of said song.

Oops, wrong version. Back to the editing board so to speak.

But we got it figured out in the end.

It was a fine bit of work and the actual album looks fantastic.

Lou presented a special gift to me on this project. A beautiful red Telecaster. I talk about that guitar here.

Lou says it is the end of the line, as far as recording goes.

Though I’m not sure I would bet a bunch of money on it.

You can find Lou’s music here.

Author: Chad