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NRW+E 2012: All In Service of the Song

Nashville, TN—“Songs, that’s the best stuff. Songs.” With those words, artist and personal studio owner Keb Mo, kicked off the 2012 Nashville Recording Workshop + Expo, the third in the series, in early March.

Keb Mo’s keynote address kicked off the 2012 Nashville Recording Workshop + Expo.Nashville, TN—“Songs, that’s the best stuff. Songs.” With those words, artist and personal studio owner Keb Mo, kicked off the 2012 Nashville Recording Workshop + Expo, the third in the series, in early March. The event, a production of the Nashville section of the Audio Engineering Society and the international AES, was held in the Rocketown event center in downtown Nashville. The audience of over 200 were led down Mo’s artist path as well as his personal studio journey, from a TEAC 4-track cassette recorder, drum machine, drums, bass, guitars and a mic, to the Avid Pro Tools-centric environment he works in today.

“The gear we use is the paint,” Mo concluded, “the tools—the hammers and screwdrivers that we use to make this beautiful noise to inspire people in their lives…the [tools] we have now are such a huge gift to the world in order for an artist to make art without having a huge record contract.” Mo spent a full day at NRW+E 2012, mingling with attendees and exhibitors and capping Day One by taking the stage once again, with his engineer John Schirmer, and mastering engineer and an engineer from Motown’s prime, Bob Olhsson, to walk the audience through the progression of a recent tune from inspiration to completion.

Even a tornado warning and hailstorm on the first day failed to dampen the enthusiasm of attendees at the two-day event, filled with sessions aimed at sharing the experience and knowledge of the Nashville professional audio community with personal studio owners, be they songwriters, musicians or budding engineers. Three tracks of breakout sessions focused on areas of emphasis catering to the specific interests expressed by attendees of previous NRW+E events.

The tech track included wiring fundamentals with wiring pro Steve Lampen, basic acoustics with AES Central Region VP Michael Fleming, computer and software optimization with educator Nathan Adam, and archiving/ file management with engineer Mike Poston. The production track included preamplifier and mic matching with engineers and writers Russ Long and Lynn Fuston, along with Blackbird Audio Rentals manager Rolf Zwiep; the use of MIDI instruments to embellish tracks with composer Jim Parker; engineer and producer Keith Compton discussing session organization and prep for mixing; and distance collaboration with producer/engineer Dan Rudin. The songs and business track included a session on arranging for “the perfect pitch” with engineer/producer Jonell Polansky, as well as sessions on promotion, distribution, marketing and publishing with Borman Entertainment’s Rachel Barnhard, business operations with Melissa Wald; and copyright and IP protection with David Maddox.

Other full-attendee sessions included recording live performances with road veteran Josh Reynolds, mixing in-the-box with engineer John Merchant and mastering engineer Glenn Meadows of Mayfield Mastering with an illuminating presentation on the effects of lossy compression (MP3, AAC) encoding on master recordings.

The exhibition space at NRW+E 2012 was home to microphone, processing, loudspeaker, acoustic treatment, software and other manufacturers, distributors and retailers offering their products for demonstration. Bags provided by sponsor Sweetwater Sound were filled by attendees with Sweetwater’s Gear Guide, exhibitor literature and magazines Pro Sound News, Pro Audio Review, MIX and Electronic Musician.

As NRW+E 2012 drew towards a close, the attendees were treated to a presentation by artist and songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman who mapped out the progression of a project from her Prism release, begun in a personal space before branching out from there for collaboration through additional studios and mastering. Chapman reminded the audience that in the end, as Mo had launched NRW+E 2012, it’s “all about the song.”

Nashville Recording Workshop + Expo