Monday, December 17, 2012

Hinge

I know this gun control debate will get out of hand. On one side you have the New York Times reminding us that the previous gun control bills have been incited by assignations or assassination attempts: Kennedy/King, Reagan. I see irony in the fact that most of the people who would WANT to see the president's life attempted on are probably also ones who would like to keep their gun rights current. It's a win/lose for them, in that case. That's a bad thought but probably true. I am in an odd position. I am not necessarily anti-gun, but I will never own a gun myself. I, however, am SURROUNDED by those who feel very strongly about their right to bear arms. The only argument that I understand is the right to protect yourself from your own government... which is why the 2nd amendment was drafted. It keeps us from being Syria. You know what else keeps us from being Syria? Evolution, education, free thought & a non-religious based government. I'd think that the evolution should include more stringent gun laws as these weapons are INFINITELY more deadly than those referenced during the Bill of Rights days. Maybe we refine the law allowing handguns but limited to be the six shooter variety at the very worst. These clip oriented loading weapons are much more efficient... & deadly. Maybe everyone has to get a license... like for driving... but are allotted only one firearm specifically for protection. I honestly can't imagine why we'd need assault rifles at all. This is real life... not Grand Theft Auto. You can make it illegal to possess more than what would be allotted. Enforcing it is another thing. Granted, narcotic drugs are illegal... but they're still out there. However, getting caught with them bears a penalty. I'm thinking the enforcement of such gun laws can be the same. I don't know. I'm probably talking out of my ass, but something is GOING to change in my lifetime regarding these things. I have no dog in the fight but I'd like everyone just to chill the fuck out. My friend, Adrienne, said on Twitter today: "There's nothing more American than using a tragedy to further a political agenda." It's only going to get worse. It's not hard to see how this will become a blue or red issue... like abortion on steroids. Let's start to think outside of the box... as Americans. The role of government is to save us from ourselves. That's why we have laws. That's why we have a military, a police force, & first responders. That's why we have interstates. That's why we have public schools & social services. A lot of these things are not perfectly run by any means but that's what (I hope) most of our tax dollars are paying for. If you don't want guns banned, come up with a better idea to prevent things like Newtown from happening ever again. The most egregious stat that I saw with this media blitz covering the tragedy is that THIRTY-ONE incidents like this have happened since Columbine in '98. How about, for starters, putting an armed guard in EVERY school. At least then, maybe SOME of the precious lives could've been saved. We don't need to be afraid of our shadow but we do need to take SOME steps in making it harder for events like this to happen. I challenge all of the learned people in this world to come up with a solution. It's going to take a lot of convincing to change the minds of the pro-gun folks out there. I bet some of the parents of the slain children were pro-gun, but would trade ANYTHING to have their child in bed tonight. Let's hope it doesn't come to that to change enough people's minds to come up with a GREAT solution. Not a tourniquet to stop the bleeding but a cure. I have faith in the brilliant people in the world. There's good & evil in EVERY heart in this world. The call to help in recent days with Hurricane Sandy was proof of the good. Kumbaya, mother fuckers. Kumbaya.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Levi Record, day eleven

I guess I'll recap a bit. Wednesday Levi finished singing his record. We did a few overdubs along the way. I think pedal steel was in there somewhere. Not much to update you on THAT particular day. It was still a full, long workday. Thursday was a different story regarding activity. Mac McAnally came in & showed us ALL how it's done. He played finger style guitar, piano, & sang a REALLy interesting harmony to one of the songs. That dude is the best. Nicest guy in the world too. Bryan Simpson came in as well & sang a background vocal on another song. We rounded out the night with some singing & guitaring. Today we had a couple of guys come in & play upright bass... then banjo. After a few additional background vocals, we put the record to bed. I think Matt Mangano is going to spend a day or so going through each of the songs & making sure we have all of the right takes in place. Then he's going to make rough mixes of every song so we can step back & see WHERE we are with this thing objectively. To be completely honest, I'm mentally exhausted from this record. I know that it's good though. I just need some time away. I think I'm just exhausted from NOT having a break in a month or so. I transitioned from ZBB tour to finishing my record to playing some solo shows to Levi's record. It's time to take a little break after tomorrow night. I finished out the day in the studio & drove to Atlanta. ZBB is playing a private show in Atlanta tomorrow. Christmas can't come fast enough. So THIS happened today. There's really nothing I can say about it that hasn't been said already. It's terrible. Obviously, the worst part about it is the loss of life. The distant 2nd worst thing is the uproar in debate about gun control. I hate that THIS is how the gun control awareness had to come about. Once all are mourned & time has passed, I assure you there will be a tiny civil war about this issue. I stand aside on it. I don't own & never will own a gun. However, I'm surrounded by people who feel very strongly about their gun rights. I can see their point, but completely see the other side of the coin... especially on days like this. I'm too tired to even be talking about this right now. Good night.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Levi Record, day eight

The day started out with a little "state of the union." We listened to every song & took stock in where we were with each of them. We made oodles of notes. I like the word "oodles." At noon, keyboardist Steve Conn came over. He ended up playing an accordion track & playing some unbelievable piano tracks. He really added some cool stuff to this record. Levi ended up singing a few tunes. Lawrence played some more percussion today. Oliver Wood came & sang a background vocal & played a guitar solo on a tune. He stay & was part of the impromptu choir I got together. Clare Bowen, Maureen Murphy, Travis Meadows, Oliver, & myself were the choir. Neat, neat stuff. Today felt like it moved really slow at times, but, in the end, we got a lot of great stuff. It's coming together nicely. Lots of personality. Lots of Levi. Lots of his band. Southern Ground.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Levi Record, day seven

Today was just more of the same. It's a lot like treading water for a long distance; it's tiresome, tedious, & boring at times... but you eventually get somewhere - especially with good direction. Levi finished three songs on vocals today. Started fooling around with a fourth but it was late & he was tired. Danny got his guitar part down on 4 songs. Lawrence played a few percussion tracks as well. I sang a couple background vocals & played an electric guitar track. It was kind of a electric/mississippi/bottleneck thing. I REALLY enjoyed that track. I also did a lap steel track. Rickenbacher B + Line 6 Verbzilla + Silvertone Twin Twelve ALL THE WAY UP. It was a really cool sound. All of this doesn't really sound like much but we're still on pace to finish on time. It's just going to be more of the same for the next few days. Tomorrow will be a little more variety because of some of the guest musicians & singers coming in. Stoked. I'm elated with what was finished today though. On a personal note, I got back one of my pedal steels from being modified today. It belonged to both Toy Caldwell & Hughie Thomasson. I had it modified to play like my Sho-Buds. I brought it home & it will be the pedal steel that I practice on (when I get some time). My home is slowly coming together. I am very excited about that.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Levi Record, day six

Apparently I forgot to write yesterday. We did a half day. Matt Mangano's son had his first birthday party. We all attended, then resumed at 4pm. Basically, what we did yesterday is get Levi to play his acoustic guitar parts on the record. He got a good amount of them done. Which brings me to today. Starting around noon we had him finish his recording. He not only played his normal acoustic parts, but we added some interesting acoustic colors to the palate. There was a couple tracks with Nashville tuned guitars. There were some doubled tracks with different guitars. Matt & I got to play a couple supporting acoustic guitar tracks as well. I think I tracked a mandolin track in there too. We took a well deserved long break for dinner. When we got back, Levi sang the vocal on one song. We shifted our workflow to start completing the song instead of the 'assembly line' tracking that we were doing. We brought that particular song as far to completion as possible tonight. Not much left on it. Waiting on some guests to do that. Also, tomorrow we change over to 10am-10pm tracking instead of the noon-midnight hours we'd been keeping this past week. Moving right along, footloose fancy free.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Levi Record, day four

Oh my/ Sorry for the delay. I got rather blurry last night at a few bars with Mr. Lowrey. I was in no shape to type when I got home. I was just lucky to get here. Anyway, seriously; we officially finished basic tracking yesterday. We spent most of the afternoon cleaning up the tracking room & setting up for electric guitars. We left the Hammond & Levi's guitar/vocal station setup. Brandon Bell & Matt Mangano did a good batch of 'house cleaning' in the hard drives. We're taking Friday off. It feel s good to have an official shifting of gears & a short decompression period after a productive but slightly stressful tracking session. We'll resume on Saturday afternoon. I'm feeling VERY good about the schedule. We've already started setting up guest instrumentalists & singers. Nothing super fancy &, NO, I'm not going to tell you who they are. I'd imagine that it will be a solid week of work, starting Saturday, until this thing is completely tracked. I think good music fans are gonna love it.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Levi Record, day three

I am not sure how many songs we tracked today. All I know is that, in theory, we are done tracking basic tracks. That means that, for sure, the bass & the drums are tracked for this record. We are going to listen back tomorrow morning & find out if we are indeed done. It was all "A-game" from the band today... & from the production team. Brandon Bell engineers like a jazz improviser sometimes. Today was one of those days. Seamless. SOOOO much fun to reach for something & pull it off... & fast to boot. So things are going swimmingly. Ready again for tomorrow & to find out if we can move on to phase two (overdubs). In other news, Zac Brown Band's third album, "Uncaged," was nominated for Best Country Album. While I think this offering is more than deserving, I'm 90% sure that it will go to Mrs. Lambert. She made a damn good record & has the political machine firmly behind her. If we have to lose again, I don't mind losing to her & that fine record she made. Was flabbergasted that John Mayer's "Born & Raised" garnered NO nominations. I think it's more of a crime that it wasn't nom'd than we will lose the one category.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Levi Record, day two

Today was good, hard work. Our day in the studio started around noon. Since we finished three tunes of basic tracking yesterday, I was hoping for four today. Early on it seemed that may not happen. The first tune of the day took us almost up to 5pm. There wasn't anything obviously difficult about it, but it wasn't quite right until we finished it later in the afternoon. It was a fierce combination of bad moods, poor execution, constant changes, & a bunch of us not necessarily sure where the final arrangement was going to end up. We got there though. We finally started really making progress throughout the evening. We finally walked out around 1am central time with four songs tracked for the day. I think the first tune was the least solid... perhaps of the whole record. I feel really good about it now. I also feel really good about our workflow on this record. Matt Mangano, Brandon Bell, the band, & I really have a thing now. It took a couple days to find it but we're there. It won't take a lot of imagination to believe that the rest of basics tracking will progress rather smoothly. Each song has been given its own space. There's very little "assembly line" production/engineering going on. I think Levi is very happy with the results. I'm actually excited about tomorrow. This is going to be good. Can't wait for you to hear it. Outside of recording news, I met with my new lawyer this morning. I think he's a good fit for me. "Why do you need a lawyer, Clay?" Glad you asked, imaginary person. Well, I need a lawyer to look over contracts & such. You'd be surprised how often I have to sign things these days regarding songwriting, recording, publishing, & touring. I just don't want to use an Atlanta music attorney since I live in Nashville now... & lord knows there's enough music attorneys up here. Anyway, sleep well. Gotta hit the hay so I can make the donuts in the morning.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

(day one continued)

PS. We tracked a third song tonight. Time to sleep. Back at it before noon tomorrow... or today for that matter.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Levi Record, day one

Drummer Lawrence Nemenz showed up around 10am to start setting up the drums. Engineer Brandon Bell, along with assistants Brandon "Skillet" Conway & Dr. Tyler Walker, starting mic'ing everything. Matt Mangano & I are producing this thing. He & I work very well together & have been good friends for years. At some point, it was decided today that there needed to be an additional instrument in the mix for tracking... so I sat behind the Hammond B3 & we started to work. Guitarist Danny McAdams played two different goldtop Gibson Les Pauls today. Once was mine - the other was one equipped with P90 pickups. He played through his Egnater head into my 65 Amps 2x12 cab. Bassist Jon Daws played our mid-70's Fender P-Bass into a Radial JDI D.I. with Brandon Bell's Ampeg B15 bass combo. Around 8pm, Matt decided to take the drumkit out of the drum booth & put it in the main tracking room, essentially swapping with Levi... putting Levi in that booth. Lunch & dinner was made by the studio swiss army knife that is Rebecca Wood. She is the bomb. There's just no other way to put it. Although we only got two songs in the can today, I feel we're right on schedule. Tomorrow should move MUCH faster (knock on wood). I'm really stoked with what we have. This is going to be a very different record than Levi's debut on Southern Ground. This is Levi's songs played by Levi's band. It sounds like a band. Going home soon & everyone will hopefully get a great night's sleep. Ready for tomorrow. Although it has nothing to do with the recording, my couch was finally delivered this morning. My place is finally starting to become a home. Til tomorrow.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Levi Lowrey

So. I've concluded that new & different social media (Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook) had slowly taken the place of this blog until I finally just quit writing. I started this blog YEARS ago. I want to reinvest in it. It will be demanding at first but I'd like to rock it at least one more time. The cause for this newfound interest is tomorrow: we start Levi Lowrey's 2nd album here in Nashville. This will be the first project started & finished at the new Southern Ground Nashville studio. I am not only excited for the recording & work but also just to be working with Levi. He is easily one of the best songwriters of his time & also a very good friend. I will do my best to recap the goings on at day's end every day. Tomorrow will mainly consist of getting sounds in the studio & making all of the players comfortable. I'd imagine that tomorrow's blog entry will reveal the cast of characters as well (i.e., the band & the production staff for this record). Well, until then... this Walking Dead episode on my DVR ain't gonna watch itself. Zombie dreams everyone.