The first CD in 2011 was "Play Me Some Blues" and was mostly covers with a few originals written by myself and it did pretty well. Ben Johnson is a drummer and close friend of mine who got wind of my doing a blues CD and he suggested a listening list to soak my brain with different artists. Recording took place in my garage that was cold in the winter and hot as hell in the summer time. I used electronic drums to trigger Slate drums as well as a real Hammond CV organ. I shuffled quite a few different Hammonds in and out of that garage and still own two. I used pretty much the same guitars back then through a Peavey Delta tube amp and was quite happy with the sound. Many late nights spent in that garage till three in the morning.
It's been nearly four years since I released "It's Good to be the King" in 2012. I had a co-writer helping me with the lyrics. Steve Erlewine was a kind soul who passed away just as we had started talking about putting a new album out. His insight into the dark side of the bar business gave me a close up look with his gritty lyrics, but it's also what cost him his life in the end. Gonna miss ya buddy and I hope you're looking down grinning at us all.
The Dark Bridges album in 2016 was rather daunting as I couldn't find a writing partner and I hate writing lyrics. They just don't come easy for me, but thankfully the music always has. I wasn't sure what direction to take as I've taken a move to add a progressive, jazz feel to my music that doesn't always go over with the blues crowd. I chose to be true to myself and grow with the music while adding a few blues flavored songs with a classic rock and progressive feel. I started recording in my basement studio in Omaha and then we moved to Tucson, AZ where I was allowed more room and a nicer home to record within. I also was able to bring the Hammond organs and Leslie cabinets into the house and was more than pleased with the results.
About the gear used... I used a Hammond M3 organ with 145 Leslie miked from both bottom and top rotors. Drums were a DW collectors kit miked behind a plexi-shield with close micing and overhead condensers. Bass guitar was a 1984 Ibanez RB800 run directly into the recording system and an Ampeg SVT plug in. The guitars were Fender Strats, Telcasters and Ibanez guitars mostly from the mid 70's. I recorded through a Fender Deluxe Reverb and Marshall JCM2000 miced with an SM57, Sennheiser E609 and a secondary ribbon mic. The Eleven Rack system was also used on a few tracks and has me scratching my head on how good it can sound when sitting properly in the mix with custom patches.
Vocals were sung through a 70's Sony large diaphram mic that totally blows me away with clarity and warmth. My inputs were 18 channels of Presonus XLR inputs into Pro Tools 11 on an iMac machine. Playback was through the Presonus studio controller into a pair of Tapco and Yamaha near field monitors. Having access to all the Steven Slate drum and recording plug ins was a very cool thing and learning the entire process set me back a bit. I was lucky enough to learn while recording other clients and able to avoid repeating mistakes this way.
Dark Bridges started in 2014 and has traveled from the midwest of Omaha, NE, into the desert of Tucson, AZ and now released while in Canada. My wife Elaine labored over the painting and threatened to paint over the bridge countless times. Thankfully I was there to pull off the ledge! I know that I had to go back and recut quite a few tracks before letting go for a release date.
This album signals an end to recording for a short spell, but I will pick it up after finishing some other projects that demand my attention. I thank everyone from the jocks who play these albums to the kind folks who buy the product and tell their friends about it!