Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


Mix Regional: Southwest


A decade ago, David Schwartz, one of Mix magazine’s founding editors, moved to Santa Fe, N.M., where he found a rich music community, with an interest in preserving their history and traditions.

Ten years ago, I got involved in the nonprofit New Mexico Music Commission via an old friend, Lee Berk, former chancellor of Berklee College of Music. My work with the Commission has led me to produce an event to honor the lifetime achievers in the state’s music scene: The Platinum Music Awards tribute and variety show, to be held at the Lensic Performing Arts Center on July 21, was devised to shine a light on the state’s musical pioneers and showcase the best of New Mexico’s music scene across a variety of genres.

This year’s honorees include multi-woodwind maestro, producer and radio personality Arlen Asher; Southwest Americana pioneers Bill and Bonnie Hearne; Norteño/Tex-Mex/rock ’n’ roll stylist Alberto Nelson “Al Hurricane” Sanchez; Native American-rooted multi-instrumentalist Fernando Cellicion; and beloved music educator and longtime conductor of the Albuquerque Youth Symphony Program, Dr. Dale Kempter.

The Platinum Music Awards will also present its prestigious Lee Berk Award to Catherine Oppenheimer. A former professional dancer with the New York City Ballet, Oppenheimer co-founded the National Dance Institute of New Mexico, a statewide educational organization that serves nearly 10,000 children throughout the state. She was also the driving force in 2010 behind the creation of New Mexico School for the Arts, the state’s first residential high school for the performing and visual arts.

Proceeds from the Awards event will benefit the New Mexico Music Commission’s Music in School programs as well as the Solace Crisis Treatment Center, a nonprofit agency that provides support and services to traumatized individuals.

For more information on the Platinum Music Awards, visit platinummusic —David Schwartz

Bassist John Hayden and drummer Adam Wolin of Dirty Lingo with engineer/studio owner Scott Leader, who mixes on a Pro Tools HD system and Equator Q15 monitors.

Brick Road Studio, Scottsdale, Ariz.

One day, engineer/producer Scott Leader walked into his studio and encountered strangers. “This was five years ago; I show up to work, and a bunch of people were like, ‘Who are you’? I was thinking the same: ‘Who are you?’ The landlord had sold the building and didn’t notify us. I had to move.”

Leader found a space in North Scottsdale that had already been built out as a studio. “It was acoustically treated, with floating floors, the whole nine,” Leader says. “The company that built it apparently used it for only two or three months [in 2005] and then moved to New York.”

The owner of the abandoned facility had been planning to convert it to condominiums, but Leader convinced him that the expense of demolishing an existing studio would be greater and riskier than allowing Leader simply to move in. One week after being evicted, Leader had a new address.

“The studio is about half the size [of the previous studio]. However, we have four separate recording spaces,” Leader says. “The old studio only had two: a giant room and a small room. This studio also has offices and a break room, which we didn’t have at the old studio.”

Leader prides himself on offering whatever services his music-production clients need. “We just finished an album with the Anglim Sisters,” Leader explains. “They hired me to tighten up their songs, and I brought in a group of professionals to play with them, I coached them on their vocals, and I recorded, mixed and edited. We’re one-stop shopping for musicians at any level.

“I would say 85 percent of what I do is music production, but we also do voiceover work,” he continues. “We are right in the heart of where major events happen: the Barrett-Jackson Auctions, the Phoenix Open [golf tournament], and MLB spring training. When celebrities are here—professional athletes, announcers—companies want them to do a voice-over for a commercial. I’ve done a lot of work for ESPN, for example.”

Leader also shares Brick Road with two other producers with more specific expertise. Keyboardist/vocalist Mark DeCozio mainly works with jazz artists, and Rashied Arekat specializes in songwriting and production.

“We each have our own clients, but we share the space and the expenses,” Leader says. “Between the three of us, this place is always busy.”

L to R: Mario Mendivil, Todd Chuba, Ray Herndon.


Robert Lang has owned and operated Big Bug Sound since 2002 and recently updated his acoustics with eight Auralex Sustain Pyramid diffuser panels in the tracking room ceiling.

The photo above is from Lang’s session with local songwriter Trudy S. Hays, to record her song “I Want a Cowboy.” “We made the demo a year ago, using only a drum machine, acoustic rhythm guitar and vocal, sung by local country artist Mary Hoffman,” Lang says. “To create a full version of the song, I brought in Todd Chuba [drums], Mario Mendivil [bass] and Ray Herndon [guitars]. Todd and Mario are [my] go-to rhythm section for session work. Ray has recorded and toured for many years with Lyle Lovett and has been on the road with Don McLean.” Lang produced and engineered the session.

“Capturing a drum kit accurately in a ten-by-twelve-foot room with eight-foot ceilings is challenging,” Lang adds. “The diffuser panels have given a clear picture of the kit, with a simple four-mic setup.” Lang’s drum mics included an AKG D112 on kick and an Earthworks SR77 cardioid on the snare, “placed a few inches away from the side to let the sound develop a bit before hitting the capsule. An Earthworks QTC50 pair was used for overheads, and all four mics were connected to an Earthworks ZDT 1024 preamp. “The Earthworks mics and pre’s give you exactly what you put into them—no coloration. I like that natural sound, especially now that the room is sounding so good.”

Khloe, Kevin, and Kane Churko at The Hideout.


The Carl Yanchar-designed, four-studio Hideout Recording is owned and operated by rock/metal producer and songwriter Kevin Churko, with help from his kids: engineer/producer Kane and studio manager Khloe. Kevin’s clients include Five Finger Death Punch, In This Moment, Disturbed, Ozzy Osbourne, and others. Kane’s recent credits include Papa Roach, Vamps, One Ok Rock, Art of Dying and others. The Hideout boasts three SSL consoles—a 96-channel Duality in Studio A, an XL 9000 K Series in B, and a Matrix in Studio C—while Studio D is a multi-use space for songwriters and producers.

Singer/guitarist Bob Russell


Halfway through his first album, musician Bob Russell (Alice Cooper, Michael Bruce) recorded guitar overdubs at Luna Recording. Luna also reports that the studio has added video/promotional services with the help of Arizona Daily Star videographer Aaron Yeagle.



Jalipaz—owner, engineer and producer at Audioconfusion—hosted Red Tank! for their sophomore album Bio/Feedback. Jalipaz also worked with Citrus Clouds on their full-length Imagination in late 2016; they were also back last month to record a single for a My Bloody Valentine tribute. Other sessions at Audioconfusion include Diners and Okilly Dokilly.

Tiger Stylz (left) with Lil Wayne


It was one year ago when recording and mastering engineer Mike Lavin and his business partner, engineer/producer Tiger Stylz, acquired D.I. Studio. The owners have added post-production audio services at the studio, and their recent post sessions have included work for Carnival Cruise Lines and Reflex Media, as well as Harvey Mason Jr.’s voiceover work for the animated movie SING and Mike Tyson’s dialog for his Cartoon Network animated series.

Guitarist Billy Stokes


Guitarist Billy Stokes recorded his rock album Muscle & Blood in Allusion Studios with producer/studio owner Jim Pavett, who reports that Stokes first envisioned a blues record, but when Pavett was able to bring in bassist Barry Sparks (Yngwie Malmsteen, Dokken, Ted Nugent), “Billy changed the format to a rock album in the likes of Rainbow and Black Country Communion.” The album also featured appearances by guest guitarists Les Dudek, Pat Travers and Frank Marino, and vocals by Marc Storace of Swiss rock band Krokus.

Marisa Johnson


Recent sessions at Tone Factory include Denny Laine’s album Valley of Dreams, recorded and mixed by Vinnie Castaldo and set for release this summer; Castaldo also produced, recorded and mixed Marisa Johnson’s single “Your Time. And at press time, London-based rockers Days Indoors were set to start working in Tone Factory on their new album.