It has been a lot of fun talking about Chicago this past month while putting together our Regional pages. The weekly editorial meetings were peppered with stories from Blair Jackson, who located and contacted Liz Phair for this month’s Classic Track, along with references to Brad Wood, Brian Deck, Veruca Salt and the late great Idful Studios; from managing editor Lori Kennedy, who wrote up Sessions & Studio News from the likes of CRC and Pressure Point, both longtime Mix friends; from contributing editor Barbara Schultz, a Chicago native and diehard Bulls and Cubs fan, who, though tied up producing our Class of 2014 cover feature, still had time for a few Chicago stories.
For me, the Windy City, the City of Broad Shoulders, the City on the Make, has always been special. It’s where my parents grew up (Sauganash), went to college (Loyola), and married (Queen of All Saints). It’s where I went to my first zoo (Brookfield), museum (Science & Industry), baseball game (Wrigley) and concert (Asleep at the Wheel on Navy Pier, ChicagoFest 1979). It was my media market growing up; it was the first imprint in my brain of what a big city is.
Many years later, in my first company-expensed trip as a young professional, a semi-naïve assistant editor at Mix, I went to Chicago. I had my master’s degree in journalism and had been paid to copyedit and proofread most of what I knew about the recording industry over the past two years. Chicago in 1990 was my on-the-ground and in-the-studio introduction to the real world. And it was fantastic.
On my first night there, after checking into the Hotel Nikko on the River, I had dinner and a few bottles of fine wine with the late, great Murray Allen and his wife. At the time, Allen was still head of Universal Recording, and I heard tales of Bill Putnam, Bruce Swedien, Duke Ellington, Quincy Jones and countless others, all legends, I would learn later.
On that same trip I met Hank Neuberger at CRC, and we keep crossing paths and checking in these many years later, whether at the broadcast trucks for the Grammys or in the Webcast production trailers at Bonnaroo. At Chicago Trax I met Reid Hyams, whose enthusiasm for the local music community knew no bounds; we stayed in touch for years. And I met Jimmy Dolan at Streeterville, the hottest commercial post house/music studio in town at the time, with loads of AMS AudioFile DAWs. Chicago will forever be known as a blues town, but long before Pro Tools, it was also an AudioFile town.
On that same trip, I stopped by Skyview Film & Video, a commercial video post house that had put in an audio room, as was the trend at the time. All I remember, however, was the owner’s office, where he showed me a new computer-based video editing system from “this new company called Avid.” It was one of only ten such machines in the world at the time, he told me, as he dragged-and-dropped video clips from a Buick spot into a timeline. It was very, very new.
There have been subsequent memorable trips to Chicago, some personal, some professional, some both. There was the visit to longtime friend Dave Dakich, a great guitar player and writer, who introduced me to commercial music house Spank! Great custom music. I still have their Nerf basketball swag in my office.
There was another great trip in 2004, when Pressure Point Recording Studios opened in in the South Loop with a party to rival anything in L.A. or New York. There I met the wolfdog, Chris Schneider, studio manager at Pressure Point and ever-energetic booster of the Chicago music scene, in its many varied forms. He’s remained a good friend.
There will be many more trips to come, I’m sure. That first one, to Chicago, was special.