Almost Spring News

You should see the yellow oxalis blooming in my yard. It's lush! You'd never know we have another week until spring officially begins. Remember, I'm still relatively new to the Bay Area. Here's what I've been up to this winter:

One of my favorite things about being a mastering engineer is that, day to day, I get to work on lots of different styles and genres of music. I've recently mastered projects that fall under the vast, sometimes overlapping umbrellas of metal, world, pop, rock, singer/songwriter, dance, bluegrass, bluegrass covers of Radiohead songs, unclassifiable... Check 'em out!

First up, a pair of new releases from the Bottom Line Archive series: Ralph Stanley performing at the Bottom Line in 2002, charming as ever and riding high on the O Brother Where Art Though? folk and bluegrass resurgence. The album closer, Amazing Grace, will bring you to tears. And a double disc of Jack Bruce & Friends, tearing it up live in 1980. Those friends, by the way, are Billy Cobham, Clem Clempson & David Sancious.

I mastered the latest release by Turkish metal band Gökböri, entitled Erlik. This is my third record with them, and they keep getting better! I'm especially fond of the title track.

Awesome Tapes From Africa brings you classic South African bubblegum disco with Umoja's 707, out in May, remastered by me. Read about it in Fact. It had the whole studio dancing.

I can't get enough of Sarah Solovay's new single Rough Draft. Watch & listen for more from this talented songwriter and guitarist.

Philadelphia's Man About a Horse put together this brilliant and timely bluegrass cover of Radiohead's Electioneering. I'm mastering their full length album in the next few weeks, so keep an eye/ear out for more from them too.

Happy spring! Off to make more music...

Embarrassing Workout Songs

A friend recently posted on Facebook, asking her friends to divulge the most embarrassing song on their workout playlists. (Notice, it is now assumed our workout playlists are from streaming services, not rips from actual, physical CDs we purchased, or old Napster downloads, or, taking it all the way back, a Walkman and a good old mixtape). 

Never one to pass up an opportunity to embarrass myself in public, I mentally scrolled through my own running playlists and landed on a few pop gems that some might consider embarrassing (ahem, Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez...), but then I remembered:

Let's be clear. I am not embarrassed by anything I listen to, least of all this wholly dreamy nostalgic pop song. I stand by my decision to put Mazzy Star on a workout mix. It happened during a phase when I was experimenting with running to songs in 3/4 or 6/8 time. Who doesn't like to run to a melancholy waltz? Plus, the BPM matches my cadence so nicely, it's a pleasure to run to.

This opened the floodgates though, and I subsequently remembered that when training for my first 10k, I planted the theme song to the Benny Hill song, aka Yakety Sax, in my training mix, hoping it would deploy when I needed an extra kick to motivate me up that final hill. It worked.

Then, there was that season when Gwen Stefani released "Wind It Up," which sampled "The Lonely Goatherd" from The Sound of Music, and I thought, why not put them both on the running mix? Who doesn't like to exercise to a little Julie Andrews?

So next time you see me running around Berkeley, just know I might be air drumming to Grimes or Sia or Lana Del Rey, or I might be running in 3/4 time with an early 90s indie waltz ballad, or maybe lip synching classic show tunes. Whatever keeps me in motion. And, by the way, I'm always open to suggestions.

Discovering "Lost" Recordings

If I had a nickel for everyone who send me a link to this story about the lost Bob Marley tapes that lay, forgotten, in a hotel basement for 40 years and turned out to contain original live recordings of his concerts in London and Paris in the mid-1970s... I'd be at least 35 cents richer. 

Of course a bunch of people sent me that link. Because I'm that person. I'm the one you call when you find the musty, moldy tapes in the basement and need someone to clean, digitize and restore them. I've been there: in a barn surrounded by stacks of A-list master tapes; in a basement lined with boxes filled to overflowing with tangles of DATs and cassettes, handwritten labels scribbled with names would make your eyes pop; having a friendly chat with a musician who suddenly recalls that, yes, she might have a few old recordings from early in her prolific career downstairs.

According to a meticulously researched paper published by AV Preserve in 2015, there are an estimated 537 million recordings in collection-holding organizations, the vast majority of which have not been digitized. That's just the stuff in libraries and archives! What wonders still exist in basements, closets and attics? 

That's what motivates me to do this work. That moment of anticipation and joy when you wind a reel on a tape machine, hit play, and hit pay dirt. I still remember when I dropped the needle on the scratched up original promo 45 of Scott Fagan singing "All For the Sake of Love," an utter heartbreaker. And when I popped in the cassette of early Jack Ruby recordings and heard this. There's something about the nearly forgotten that captures us and reminds us how powerful and yet how fleeting a musical performance can be. We are lucky that so many have been recorded, and luckier still that a few get caught into the sifter and are digitized, restored and sent back out into the world to remind us of our musical past.

Still, when I hear about the discovery of "lost" tapes like these Bob Marley masters, I get a little shot of happiness, because I know it's going to happen again. And maybe next time, it might be me crawling around in the basement of an old hotel, scraping off the mud, trying to discern the names on the labels, rescuing a nearly forgotten audio treasure.

Bugs

While rifling through a very old hard drive to triple/quadruple/quintuple back-up some very old documents, I found this video that I edited and sound designed in grad school. It's so old it has my non-married name in the credits. I pulled the sound off of AM radio and other sources and used my brand spanking new digital audio editing skills to manipulate it. Presented without further comment: