The late Buck Owens and his compatriot Merle Haggard get the royal treatment on Bakersfield, Vince Gill and Paul Franklin’s salute to West Coast country. Gill, Franklin and band recorded this beautiful, heartfelt collection of gems in the personal studio that Gill built with the help of engineer Justin Niebank.
“About four years ago, Vince said, ‘I want to build a studio so I can just make music,’” Niebank says. “He had a room on the side of his house [in Nashville], and we went in saying we would just start making music, and would tweak it once we saw how it sounds—start with the music instead of technology.”
The space—mainly one large, open tracking room/control room combo with a drum room and some amp lockers attached—has been part of a very fertile period for Gill; he and Niebank have made some stellar albums in there already, including Gill’s production of Ashley Monroe’s Like a Rose and Gill’s record with The Time Jumpers. On Bakersfield, “Vince’s idea was the vocal and [Paul Franklin’s] steel would always be playing off of each other, and guitar and steel would always be playing off of each other. With drums in the booth, Niebank set the other musicians up in a circle, tracking to Pro Tools via the studio’s API 1608 board.
“Acoustic guitars went through [Neumann] KM 54 and KM 56s, and Vince’s vocal was to a 269,” Niebank says. “I love to get people playing acoustic instruments and to find the right angle between facing each other and close-miking; there’s beautiful leakage between the two of them.”