Chicago News & Notes 2014

Chicago Recording Company recently started a project called CRC Live, which takes a close and personal look at music and the stories behind it.
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Alex Vassiliades

CRC Live, From the Studio

Chicago Recording Company recently started a project called CRC Live, which takes a close and personal look at music and the stories behind it. Filmed and recorded at CRC, the series is the brainchild of Producer Matthew Boll and director Michael Azzato, who came up with the idea while interns at the studio; it became a reality with the help of CRC general manager Chris Shepard. Each session is designed around the sound and look of the artist performing, featuring a set of songs (usually from the artist’s new record), along with in-depth interviews on the stories behind the music.

So far, bands that have participated include Belfry Hollers, The Kickback, Future Monarchs and Alex Vassiliades. You can check out the latest CRC Live episodes at the studio website.

In other news at CRC, artist/actress Jennifer Hudson has been recording vocals and piano using CRC’s 64-channel SSL console and Sony C-800 mic in Studio 5, with producer Harvey Mason and engineers Andrew Hey, Mat Lejeune and Austin Thompson; Chance the Rapper and singer-songwriter Elle Varner collaborated on a new song in Studio 5 with veteran engineer Jeff Lane; engineer Jon Zacks has been working with hip-hop artist Common on a new song and video intro in Studio 4; engineer Stan Oda has been recording VO in Studio 6 for two major video games slated to be released later this year and in early 2015; director Lee Daniels and the filming crew for the new Fox show Empire shot scenes in Studio 4 and Studio 3; engineer Danny Leake tracked a five-piece band for pop singer-songwriter/actress Katharine McPhee in Studio 5; and engineer Mat Lejeune spent a couple days with David Calson recording a five-piece rock band and 30-piece orchestra in Studio 4.

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International Mix at Gravity Studios

Gravity Studios played host to an international mixing session for the touring British rock band, Anathema, during the band’s two-day stop in Chicago before a performance at the House of Blues. This mix session gave Anathema the opportunity to simultaneously tour the States while working on their album. Anathema used Studio A at Gravity to monitor real-time audio sent from producer Christer Cederberg’s studio in Norway; video conferencing to provide communication for mix adjustments between the band in Chicago, Cederberg in Norway, and a session guitarist in Liverpool; and screen-sharing for the band to view the Pro Tools session from Cederberg’s studio as he made changes.

Cederberg set up a streaming Internet radio station that the band could access at Gravity. “We ran through our HD hardware in Studio A, which allowed the band to monitor their session through our ATC SCM25A and Yamaha NS-10 monitors,” says Tim Yamaya, studio manager/producer/engineer. “The screen sharing was set up via Skype, and it allowed the connection of multiple screens and users to one video-conferencing session at once. This was the first time that we had done this at Gravity.”

Meanwhile, in other studio news, the Silversun Pickups recorded new material, produced by Doug McBride; and Mike Penny recorded new tracks by OAR, mixed by McBride. The studio also hosted the Alabama Shakes while the band was in town.

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(L to R) Blaise Barton, Tom Hambridge, Devon Allman, Marty Sammon, and Felton Crews

JoyRide Studio, From Devon Allman to Muddy Waters

Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, JoyRide recently had a visit from Devon Allman—Gregg Allman’s son—to track a new record to be released later this year. Producer/composer/drummer Tom Hambridge flew up from Nashville to produce the project from behind the drum kit.

“It was Devon’s concept to record in Chicago to impart a gritty, blues-ier quality to the record,” says JoyRide owner/engineer Blaise Barton. “Though it’s not a blues record, per se, Tom asked me to recommend some Chicago blues musicians to flesh out the rhythm tracks, so I gave him bassist Felton Crews and guitar man Giles Corey, who both really delivered on Devon’s record.” Hambridge also invited Buddy Guy’s keyboard player, Marty Sammon, with whom he worked producing Guy’s past four records. Hambridge composed roughly half the songs on Devon’s new record.

Also in production at JoyRide is the 100-year anniversary tribute album to blues legend Muddy Waters. The record features a who’s who of Muddy’s band mates from past years, including Johnny Winter, Muddy’s harpist James Cotton, guitar players Bob Margolin and John Primer, and on drums the son of Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Kenny Smith. Barton is again manning the boards and was reunited with friend and producer Larry Skoller. As a duo, Barton and Skoller have garnered two Grammy nominations from past collaborations at JoyRide.

“This is definitely not some tired old remake of Muddy’s great discography,” Barton says. “No one can make better recordings than Muddy did, and that’s not what we’re going for here. We’ve had the luxury of experimenting with new sounds for this blues record, including layered drum loops, Brazilian percussion and synth effects.” The record is scheduled for release in September.