A peak into the mind of John Hampton

Two brains trump one every time.

Ultimo, Leonardo!   Grazi!

Brother Leo is not mentioned AT ALL on this particular website. I just thought his picture MAY get me a higher Google listing.

Collaboration … root word, labor. So, labor together. Work together! There is something to be said about thing #A inspiring thing #B, together now OR separately.Together, as in John and Paul. An instance of inspiring separately, whether through time or distance, may be David Bowie and Marilyn Manson, separated by YEARS!

A buddy and I were always tech-ing on studio anomalies, some of which were simple and obvious, others that were horribly complex. But when we would get together to help each other solve a problem, we didn’t call it collaborating … we used the acronym THABTO … “Two Heads Are Better Than One.”  Simple, right? Well, that’s not just my acronym … Patrick and I both came up with THABTO. We collaborated on the acronym, in fact!. I ALWAYS like my work more when its mixed with something more than just me solo. It seems my productions are ALWAYS at least 10 to 50% more “entertaining” when I collaborate with the band. And entertaining is 150% of what music wants to be  anyway. Right?

I LIKE to be entertained …

No two people think EXACTLY alike. As a tech, I may lean a bit toward the physical or scientific side of “stuff” where a good collaborator would be the one adding him/herself, say more lucid in the range of creative and, with common sense! Alone, I couldn’t get it – nor could he. But together, we could look at many more possibilities because the person #1 may not let person #2 wander aimlessly, knowing that in the end, it isn’t helping get to the “goal”. On something that takes long term planning … say, writing a book … I may write until I’m just running out of creativity, then give it to Mr. THABTO for a few weeks. Gone from me, its time I use as “RELOAD TIME”  so that when he/she begins to add their “slant”, the entire direction of mine would suddenly spark my creative “stuff” again; it would be less stale and go for a few weeks on a new, way more inspired course. Then back to him/her. Over and over this scene repeats until we have a work of substance on our hands, when actually neither one of us individually was even a near here!

Think back: Leiber and Stoller. Karen and Richard Carpenter. Jesse and Robin (Gin Blossoms) or back to:

John and Paul,  The Coen Brothers. Sid and Nancy (Sid and Nancy??)

You must admit that by himself, John Lennon had an edge. And good reason to have him that edge. But to many it was just a bit too much reality for my pea-sized ears. Too acetic. Enter Paul McCartney. Just the opposite, he, when left alone, he was just a bit too “sweet”, if I may. (Too much honey gluts the stomach) Too much acid BURNS the stomach. BUT … together, for many years, each man tempered the other, and the result was exactly what the mainstream music listeners wanted. And neither man, as many solo artists are prone to do after awhile, strayed much from this obviously profit oriented machine they had come up with. Capitalism at it’s finest! And though Doug Hopkins from Gin Blossoms had already removed his own head via a weapon, Jesse Valenzuela and Robin Wilson had now become very much like John and Paul. Kurt Cobain gave rise to Dave Grohl and I’m sure they had to have done quite a bit of THABTO. Now, that zany Beck is a definite exception. I THINK he may just be brilliant. But many times, the BEST music comes from collaboration. Just like “O’ Brother Where art Thou?” is a mind-melding from the brothers Joel and Ethan Coen. (PS … Bear in mind they dug up the creepy “friend – o” dude Anton played by the also brilliant Javier Bardem.)

And you know what? Since everyone gets a recording studio in their laptop or whatever, collaboration has gone down the tubes. Not only that, but the “Musical Masturbation” that goes on in these self-imposed music prisons has given us nothing but SHIT! (But there are always exceptions)

John and Yoko, Bogie and Bacall
Hanna- Barbera, Simon and Garfunkel, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Missy Elliott and Timbaland… the list is MILES long.

And, as I ask for opinions, I leave you with this: One person is one highly entertaining, and his/her life improving entry into the journal of human experience can be a real PLUS. One = one. Two is the result of one plus one. So far, many of us haven’t exactly moved mountains single handedly, OR changed the course of mighty rivers! In fact, we may have overall actually left less than if we had never been there. No biggie. BUT two together makes a third thing: when number one and two and combine, a synergy is formed by the bond that, given it’s just a big more inspiration, that synergy actually becomes someone new and different … number 3! Now there is more there than what was ever there to begin with. Just like Spinal Tap Nigel’s “It’s one better!” was, now YOUR amp goes to eleven!

Next question, Geronimo …HereComeThePlanes

ProTools 9 … One step closer to Photoshop for music.

Is our planet getting to be a wacky, whirlwind of a world that we wander in, or WHAT? I mean, everyone is afraid to do anything because no one knows if prices are going up more, or if they are going to come back to Earth. We just can’t get off the breast of Middle-East oil because environmentalists just won’t let us drill anywhere, for fear of wiping out the Flat-tongued Rainbow-Snail Hairless Marmot … though right beneath our feet there’s enough oil to keep the Sheiks from our doorstep for generations! Amidst all this,  technology allows almost anyone to make a record with a couple instruments and a laptop! Like I said, it’s a wacky world we’re wandering.

So it’s all in a big, weird state of flux, or rather flux NOT. But some things are moving forward; DAMN the torpedos. Like music technology, computer technology, ANY technology. And like I’ve said, it’s not a nice, straight line of advancement like it has been since the dawn of time. Instead of people designing “stuff”, people are designing computers that design “stuff”. Some computers are designing other computers that design “stuff” to make computers that design “stuff” better. What used to be a linear progress is becoming asymptotic, or exponential progress. ( Hint: These are words that are getting more and more airplay as time moves on.)

As technology marches blindly on, music technology marches with it. Save for one tiny difference. It seems as if the sonic part of music technology is going backwards as it marches … forward? Honestly! Imagine this: From the 1940s until the late eighties, recording to analog, magnetic tape was … well, it’s how it was done. The most popular means of recording music now is almost like it’s always been, except the advancement of the technology allows for cheaper microphones, less than high-fidelity processing, you know. . . junk. But it is by no means ALL junk. Some things cut through the sea of junk and make it to shore, and we find that it’s a really fantastic breakthrough. Let’s look at the most cutting edge breakthrough of them all: the recording medium. By today’s standards, the first digital (not analog) recording medium  was crap when compared to analog tape pressed onto good, virgin vinyl … at least to my two earholes. Call me nuts. But if I’m nuts, you’ve got to tell Jack White he’s nuts, too … (all if his THIRD MAN Records releases are vinyl.) And Ozzie (?), The Black Keys, Radiohead, Pearl Jam, The Black Crowes … about 99% of “ear-havers” on the planet. But not many will argue against the latest version of ProTools, easily the most used recording platform in the world. And now, you may, if you wish, mimic the sound of analog tape on each and every ProTools track!

But why in the world would the most popular digital recording medium in the world go to these kind of lengths to NOT SOUND DIGITAL? WHY? Thirty years of developing digital just to end up where we started? I don’t get it. Unless …

Unless it’s an admission that the pro-vinyl folks are right, and analog tape sounds better than digital no matter how much technology you put behind it. I say … not exactly. At least that’s not the whole story.

If you are a bad musician, and I include a voice as an instrument, you will NEVER be good. Never. Go back to school. But if you are a fair musician, ProTools can make you a better musician. But, go back to school anyway. We are already awash in mediocrity without your adding to the party! But if you are a pretty good musician, hang on to that tuition cash for a minute. Because ProTools MIGHT help you be good. And from good, it’s possible (possible) that you can get to great. Save for one caveat. There could be one teeny-weeny . problem with using it a lot. Live performance. Because ProTools 9 is out, and it’s one step closer to Photoshop for music.

There’s a feature in there (in ProTools) that can make your drummer steadier than he really is. DRAG. CLICK.  The world famous “Auto-Tune®” (now it’s “Melodyne®”) will make your out of tune singing on key. SHIFT DOUBLE-CLICK. Having a bit of trouble deciding when your equametric-paralyzer (tone) is helping,  or your compressor (dynamic range) is hurting? No worries, mate!. It can make those decisions for you.There are lots of presets that were dialed up by the smart guys who know all about it, because most read the old manuals! And lose that cheap guitar sound in a flash because there are plenty of pre-set amplifiers in there, too. From settings The Beatles dialed up, to Carlos Santana, and everything in between! If you keep running out of air because the key of the song never got a second thought, just sing one good chorus, and paste it in to all of the chori! If your drummer can’t get off work, Apple will give you some great drum parts, thanks to Apple Loops®! Yes, it’s a wanna-be’s dream come true. Now you can make a record all by your little lonesome, in your bedroom, after work (when you’re half beat and your girlfriend is getting real bored watching you indulge yourself.)  And when (if) that little jewel is all done,  just show it off on MySpace®, and maybe you can even get iTunes® or  uTones© to sell it. I can see the headlines now: AVERAGE LOCAL MUSICIAN DOES FAIR; SELLS MANY RECORDS ON WEBSITE! Mirabili dictu! Will miracles never cease? (This is one miracle that I often pray … will.)

I mean, why take all the time needed to deliver a touching, inspired, bring-’em-to-the-edge-of-tears-type vocal performance that has the power to change lives, … when you can just slack your way through one half-fast performance, then use the recorder like the coolest video game ever made … for a week? And speaking of inspired, I can tell you for sure that inspiration is hard to pull off even in the best of recording studios, if you have no feedback. How do you do it in your room, at night, after work, with your bored girlfriend trying to watch “Jersey Girls”? Or say that you are Mr. Virtuoso … don’t you need some kind of feedback? The word we are missing here is collaboration. Don’t you need someone to bounce ideas off of, like a band mate, or a producer, or even the engineer … (if you’re wise enough to hire a professional to help) Some sort of collaboration? Remember John and Paul, and then John or Paul? Was each alone really as good as both of them, together, swapping ideas?

Finally, notice that as technology shares in it’s breakthroughs, it begins to grow beyond our wildest dreams. And as the artist isolates more, adrift in that technology, music that warms the soul seems to become quieter, harder to hear.

Maybe it’s disappearing … just as fast as the Flat-tongued Rainbow-Snail Hairless Marmot.

The “W C” Modification

What better place than the ol’ porcelain throne to peruse the pages of the latest “Recording Today ” magazine, and read the latest. in-depth, nitty-gritty  articles on the workings of a modern recording session and the technical prowess involved in bringing these creative endeavors to the modern marketplace, where the second it comes out of the gate, it hits the world wide web.

And by mid afternoon, EVERYONE has heard it. AND HAS IT.

Now that’s progress. Oh, by the way, the check from iTunes for that one copy is in the mail.

What are we doing? And why are we doing it?

No wonder the modern recording studio comes fully eguipped for the cost of a good laptop and two wanna-be microphones. And a few hundred bucks in software and CDs. I mean, what else do you need?

How about, for one, an artist? Better yet, an artist that is talented. What the heck. An artist that is talented enough to draw a crowd and sell a record or two. It’s happened before, you know.

I was reading in an apparently revered mag about the intense session that went down for the latest Joe Beets record. They had to be en garde because the prima donna artist, who I promise you have NEVER heard of, is a really demanding dude, and you must have his favorite U-47 wanna be mic ($499 retail) and a  candle burning … for the mood.

Yeah. You just never know day to day where Joe’s whimsy is going to take you. So they were prepared. They had 2 (TWO!) … RED®  brand mics running to matched Babylon E535 mic preamps with the Billy Harrington “W C” modification. 5 weeks ago, Billy was moonlighting after his Circuit City job, ripping off old Neve mic pre-amp schematics, and if he couldn’t find the St. Ives Windings transformers,The old old St. Ives he took parts out of old, busted Shure 57s. They sounded fine. And that very first amp stage that Rupert Neve would have a table of old British ladies analyze on a curve tracer for noise and gain? And then they would put that tiny little dot of red fingernail polish on it as a mark of excellence? Well, Radio Shack has something similar, so Billy was using those. A real piece of work, that “W C” mod.

Billy's fab WC modIt’s absolutely amazing the depths that audio technology has sunk to to accommodate todays recording session.

“By the way, we have to break so I can get Spider from Day Care. 20 minutes MAX!” Just keep rehearsing that part.”

Most artists that I deal with come to me and our fine studio because they know they will get the highest level of co-operation in the pursuit of their sound. If it’s Jimmie Vaughan, I know what he expects and I provide it. Jack White and his lo-tech hi-tech vibe is catered to at the same time. We have learned to be chameleons and fit seamlessly into almost any situation you can dish up. Country music to the Cramps, Audio A to Z Z Top, Allman Brothers to the latest Euro-pop …I  / we have been there and forgotten NOTHING. Our Fairchild limiters have input transformers the size of a Babylon E535. And our Neumann mics are NOT the kind that have a single integrated circuit in them. These are tried and true tools of the trade still going strong fifty plus years after they were made.

And I’m sorry, but I STILL haven’t been impressed by that “WC” modification.

Next question …

two woRds

I am forever confused by a 2 words on every movie ever made….


Are you wondering what that means? I am. I know what a Record Producer does. He does EVERYTHING! He is a babysitter, a chauffeur,  friend, a teacher AND learner. In fact, Bill Leen, Blossoms’ bassist, asked “Why doesn’t my bass get louder when I PLaY louDer?” I was in error putting a NO LOUDER on his bass. (I learned volume was a major part of their performance.)  He decides what songs are going to be on the record. He, hopefully, has or develops soon after the record starts, a big picture of how the artist will “come off” when the public hears it. In short, that’s what I do. Here’s an example:

At the end of the Tora Tora record, I, as a producer, went to Phoenix, remember, (at Brian Huttenhower’s request … AND expense), and heard Gin Blossoms. They were doing a live show that first night, and I went to meet the band before the show. Although they had a million questions concerning how I would make their first real record, for A&M, I told them I have no comment until I see, with my own eyes, what their live show is all about. I want to know what the strong points and not so strong points were, when it came to performance. Plus, I wanted to see some college girls.

That night at Chuey’s, a U of AZ hot spot in Tempe, they went on at 9PM. And they really did start at 9PM! That’s a good sign. They take it seriously. I watched the crowd to see how they reacted to the band’s performance as well, because these people in the audience ARE the general public, the real record buyers, and I bet that their reaction is directly proportional to sales. If they sing along with the band, those songs are the potential “hits” that eventually the whole world would sing along with. If they went to get another beer during a song, that song had a problem, like bad lyric, too slow, weighty arrangement , etc. It could be used as filler … or on the cutting room floor. Unless the producer can envision it as something else, like faster, in another key, … or on the cutting room floor. Overall, the crowd LOVED the Gin Blossoms. And I think I did , too.

The next day, I met with the band, and now, when they start asking their million questions, I have answers. What songs did you like? Should we even bother cutting this or that? Song X , the one that no one likes , should we try a different arrangement? These were great questions and I gave my responses. We ended up with ten songs that we should cut for sure, and five more that we should try a different approach on. and 2 that were bye-bye. (we say “next record”)

I HAD to get them away from Tempe to cut them. Way too many distractions. So we came to Memphis and just had a lot of fun cutting and singing, and just hanging around. I took them to see Poppa Willie , and they were awed. We went to Graceland. And as usual, they kind of snickered under their breath about Elvis’ style of living, but we ALL fell to our knees (metaphorically) upon entering the trophy room My goodness, Elvis was a god to the entire planet! We all gained a boxcar load of respect by the time we left.

In a nutshell, we had fun, cut a record, and the fun stuck to the tape. And the record buyers of the world sensed that fun, and bought it so that they could have fun with us. And I had just PRODUCED my first multi platinum record. Of course, I could fill a room with this story, and I plan on revisiting these sessions in the future. But for now, that’s enough to digest.

But there’s still ONE burning question. What does a movie producer do? It’s not what I do, according to wikipedia. In fact, I hereby launch my quest to change records from reading PRODUCED BY to DIRECTED BY. The director’s job is almost exactly what I do.

And so far I have done that for Jimmy Vaughan, Robert Cray, Audio Adrenaline, John Kilzer, Big Tent Revival, … a LOT of artists. and I love it!

Next question …

Tora Tora’s walking shoes take them to “Wild America”

When Brian Huttenhower from A &M Records came into my “office” (a couch in the hallway ) at the studio that day, the last thing I expected was his question. Tora Tora, the  first band we had signed to our production company, was nearing the end of another wearying tour, and, unlike most rock bands’ first tours, it seems to have done amazingly well. Their three certifiable mini-hits, “Walkin’Shoes”, “Phantom Rider”, and “Guilty” had indeed seen the light of day, and there were probably a few more in the hat. They had seen a boatload of cities, and they made me privvy to some road stories about groupies getting the royal treatment back-stage, with one special story about a deli-tray and bonus points for hitting certain body parts; a veritable backpack of backstage stories, which I thought were surely just rumors. Surely.

This degree of success at this early part of the boys’ career is what made Brian’s question such a surprise: “So Hampton, you want to do their next record?” My response was one of curiosity, since I thought their last record sounded great. “Why? Not enough low-end for mainstream rock radio?”

Now HE looked surprised, “No, stupid! (Brian and I were close enough that he knew he could get away with that.) PRODUCE their next record!”. Now I WAS taken aback. I was sure he was talking about my sonic abilities, not my song/concept musings. Hence the bass reference.

Produce them? Where I come from, if a record does as well as this had, it was unusual to change horses midstreamlike this. But then again, Brian wasn’t known for playing it safe. (A.D.D. moment– Brian had come in the studio that day wearing a pair of Nike athletic shoes that were probably called Atomic Air Supremacy Deluxe, Special Edition Quantum Accelerator GOLDS. After staring at them a minute, I looked at Brian and asked, “Brian, exactly what kind of shoes ARE those?” Brian looked at the shoes, which added a full inch plus to his height, then he looked at me, then the shoes again, and responded,”Whaddaya mean?” Eight seconds of dead silence. Then, as serious as cancer he looked up and replied, “Bitchin’!” THAT was classic Brian.

So why me to produce their next record? The first one did O.K. didn’t it?

“It did allright, I just wanted to try something different.” Brian could hear hit songs a mile away. He had signed Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, Extreme, Tora Tora, and now Gin Blossoms? Plus he was looking at a couple of other bands. Brian is talented. So talented in fact, that if he wanted me, he had me. “Sure!”

Well, it seems that the band would also glad if I would agree to do it, I found out later. Whatever had led these guys to this decision was one question I didn’t care to ask. They liked me, I liked them … let’s go.

What I liked most about Tora was that right when you thought you were getting any hair-band USA, you got something much deeper, though it wasn’t obvious at first glimpse. They were yet another clash of cultures that yielded a unique artform. This time, it was LA big-hair-big-sound pretentiousness in a real, delta based soul package, complete with mud and mosquitos. “Phantom Rider” had always sounded like a Skynyrd hit, and “Walking Shoes” was a riff-rock powerhouse from the same tree. A story of a man who had been jilted for the last time, so he broke out the walkin’ shoes. If THAT wasn’t a common blues phrase, I nominate it. Along side “I hear my back door slam”, “left home for a brown-eyed man”, “down on the killin’ floor”, and of course “Who Let the Dogs Out”.         (a joke, son)

So this was the key to the band I had decided to keep to the forefront as we made their second record. They wrote, and we hammered the songs out in an unused building a block from the studio. The Pink House we called it. It had been the big, string and horn recording studio owned by a jingle mill named Pepper-Tanner, well known in advertising music. Pepper-Tanner also made a sound effects library, (sorry, another ADD moment) and one infamous entry in this library was a sound-bite entitled “Man shoots pig”.

Over the next few months we recorded, wrote, rehearsed, recorded, wrote, and rehearsed. Suddenly one day I looked up and there were 2 overdubs left until we were done. Everything else on our production chart had been marked through. WOW! Time flies when you are having fun. So, I called Brian and he showed up a couple days later.

In a pecan shell, Brian wanted more. Where we thought it was a ten, Brian wanted eleven. Now I was in a pickle. I had committed to start Gin Blossoms (also for Brian) in about two weeks, but I can never blame a person who wants more, as long as he is paying for it.

So I went to Phoenix to start Gin Blossoms first record, which was later named “New Miserable Experience”, and Brian had a guy come in to cut some more on Tora Tora. I knew it was headed for huge success. But we all failed to foresee the effect that a new type of music that was boiling just under the surface would have on bands such as Tora Tora, who was NOT another any hair-band USA. The danger I saw was that they could possibly be “thrown out with the bath water.” Only time would tell, but my favorite, “Nowhere to Go But Down” was already becoming a favorite with people at the label, which was re-assuring. I didn’t want to leave these children in a lurch, and Brian spoke highly of the incoming guy, but alarms sounded when it got around that his biggest claim to fame was Ratt, so I had a little sit-down with him to get my two cents worth in. And I left it in his “capable hands” as I headed out for Gin Blossom land.

On my return from Phoenix a couple weeks later, I asked my co-producer how it had been going. Turns out he wore a toupee and the guys had been having a ball with him, putting duct tape across the doorway right at head level, just waiting to catch that furry thing in it’s stickum! I laughed until I was aching. They said it was going okay, but he was trying to make them into a Poison meets Motley Crüe meets Slaughter thing, and they’d had been a few “rock moments”, but otherwise, all was well. Good. I had actually missed these guys, and we were becoming good friends.

Next time Brian came in to town, we all sat and listened. Wild America was born. And now, New Miserable Experience was in it’s second trimester. Two radically types of music heading to radioland at about the same time. When I first heard the genius of  Kurt Cobain’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit’, I began to wonder if the listening/buying public would equally embrace this musical expanse. Ah, just put it out and see what happens. Right?

Next question … yes, you … in the toupee …

Keep Your Ears on the Ball

The spedometer was on 40, but I SWEAR we were doing 75 on that back road, headed straight toward nowhere out in the county. I had just picked up Mindy. She was cute. Wrong!  …… She was HOT!!! I had finally got enough dough for  this ’67 Chevy panel truck a week ago. Basically, it’s a pick-up truck with a van behind the front seat. OR, it’s a van with the engine pushed out of your lap, sitting where engines go. All last week, I’d spent every night making it so fine. Outrageous orange and brown and green SHAG covered the inch thick foam on the floor. Twelve inch by twelve inch dark cork panels, glued onto the walls, both hid the ugly pink insulation and sound-proofed the “sanctuary” … even more. Finally, last night, I finished putting in the mighty 20 watt per channel (… HEY, it’s a 40 watt. I’ll call it 50.) stereo. A psychedelic muslin bed spread draped the ceiling, tacked up randomly until it was out of the way. It both dimmed and tinted the rear dome light, making for some pretty swank wheels for a sweet evening with Mindy. I would later christen this great, white van … Moby Truck.

Stereo blastin’, the DJ announces a new one from the Stones. Two seconds of silence heralded …  a cowbell? But the drummer in me could NOT find the beat. That is, until SIR CHARLIE WATTS  comes a smokin’ in … BLAP Bloom doozh PAP …..Doom Pap …..  both setting the song and my butt ON FIRE!  “Holy ..” I choked, pulling over and TOTALLY rockin out to Honky Tonk Women for the first time. The night was suddenly ALIVE! As the last chord hit, I yelled to Mindy over the stereo, instead of turning it down,  “That is officially my favorite song … maybe EVER!” She looked at me, her smile bigger than her hair, eyes glazed, yet intent on moi. We stayed on the side of the road for hours.

That was then. It’s time for now. It’s the day I discover I’ve lost the music. Honky Tonk Women … now in the studio speakers, where I’ve so far mixed a couple gold records, was still giving me a picture of Mindy. I listened as I was setting up for the next mix, and remarked, “I used to LOVE that song. NOW listen to it. What a mess! You can’t even HEAR the bass, the drums are not near loud enough. … they needed ME back then.  I …

STOP. What am I saying? Had I become such a spoiled, prima-donna, arrogant ass that I had just called Honky Tonk Women … the song that had turned a summer back then into the best summer of my life … a mess? Did I just say I could do it better? Well tell me this, Mr. Hot Shot record dude … what, exactly would you change? How could you have made that song, that summer, that van, that MINDY … better than they were?

That was the moment that I realized I was hearing and feeling music much differently than when I was a boy.

I was actually getting scared. I was finally envisioning “missing the forest for the trees.” I was turning music into nuts and bolts…  and wheels and cogs and gears. Color was fading … it was just black and white and gray.

What I was doing today sure SOUNDED good. The bass was right where it needed to be. The guitars were bigger than life. The drums made John Bonham sound like an amateur. The singing was from Heaven. It was a lot of work, and those who had hired me were stumbling over their compliments.

But WAS it good? Would it get some 17 year old kid to pull over so he could hear every drop? With his HOT girlfriend in the car? That question … was the answer.

So today, after going back and finding that fork in the road where I wandered off, I’m still re-learning how to keep the forest in sight … ALWAYS. But instead of using a clumsy, yet easy,  “detail, schmeetail” approach,  which seems to be the attitude of many producers and engineers now, I personally have found more satisfaction in a place between tech and performance, the two warriors in the battle. It’s simple.  I have taken the technical part of the process off of the throne, and given  it a more subtle roll, so that if it ever gets down to a choice between technically good and MUSICALLY good, the M word prevails every time. And if the technical wanders off into the woods, so be it.  Look … you can always bank on the content of lyric and the performance of the musician, but it’s a good idea to keep your “sonic prowess” en garde, ready to back away lest it interfere with the audience’s ability to go from their world ……………..into the artist’s world.

And I won’t forget that that credit card in your hand gives YOU the final say.

Next question …  ♬  ♪  ♩