smell

Call it a Sound Business Practice.

Tapers. You know, those guys you see at concerts who are constantly fussing about with their mic stands, checking their recording levels, making sure their mics are aimed in the right direction, checking their cable connections every five minutes. The kind of guys who know how to capture the energy of a live concert, so you can relive the magic, years after the band members have all gone into careers in real estate or micro-management.

In other words, the kind of folks who can help you record your band in a live setting - inexpensively and efficiently, so you can share the excitement of the moment with your fans.


Hi! I'm J. Free - and yes, my name really is an alphanumeric character and a punctuation mark.

I've been obsessed with the live recording process for nearly three decades. What began as a hobby interest - to capture those once-in-a-lifetime shows that people would be talking about for years to come - developed into a serious interest in how to improve the quality of the live recording process itself. My ultimate goal has been to bring what I've learned from studio recording into various live environments, and create high-quality live recordings that can be engineered with a minimalist set-up.

Numerous bands across the U.S. - including Minneapolis, Tampa, and now Portland - have allowed me to record them over the years, and by doing so, have helped me learn more about the equipment I've worked with, and helped me refine my recording process.


Some of the official releases which feature some of my earlier recording work include:

a couple of 7" single B-sides for the Tampa-based band Dumbwaiters; 1995
a handful of live tracks for the Venison 4-CD box set released in 2000
a live album by The Hundred Flowers, recorded live at The Fireside Bowl in Chicago; 2001
a couple of live tracks by Murderapolis on their full-length release Learning To Be Arrogant; 2003
two live tracks on the Guided By Voices box set Hardcore UFOs; 2003
another live Guided By Voices track on The Bootlegs: Commemorating 35 Years at First Avenue; 2003
a track on the second Pushrods EP; 2004
a Plate-O-Shrimp track on a split single with The Unstuck; 2005
several live tracks by Lifter Puller on their posthumous digital re-releases; 2009

I've also released a few titles on my own DIY non-profit label, One Ugly Puppy Productions:
a six-track live EP in 2002 called Moldy Shrimp, combining the talents of Steve "Moldy" Moldenhauer and Plate-O-Shrimp
a full-length live benefit compilation in 2004, For The Love Of Moldy - featuring tracks from Arcwelder, The Mighty Mofos, Kontrol Panel, The Clams, Red Vendetta, Baby Grant Johnson, and The Squabs, among others, recorded in the Seventh Street Entry.

Here are just some of the post-millennium projects I've either recorded, mixed, mastered, or performed on:

a full-length EP/mini-album CD by Mpls post-punk power duo Demolition Factor; 2005

a 4-track album recorded live at Dusty's in Minneapolis featuring The Tinkers, from a benefit/memorial performance for Liz Klaers

a full-length legacy concert performance CD, featuring Twin Cities organist / composer John Wall; 2006

a live benefit fundraiser compilation recorded at The Uptown Bar + Grill in Minneapolis, for the victims of Hurricane Katrina; featuring live performances by the Black Thorns, The Bullets, Countach, Red Desert

tracks by Portland (OR) musicians Trevor Giuliani, and Alexa Wiley, for a compilation album curated by the legendary Michael Hurley; as well as a run of live performances by Hurley's own "rock" group, The Croakers

backing tracks for a stage production of August Wilson's play Ma Rainey's Black Bottom; performed at the Portland Playhouse; in conjunction with jazz prodigy David Ornette Cherry; 2011

a live concert by Portland (OR) doom/metal group Witch Mountain at The Alladin Theatre; which helped the band secure a label deal with Profound Lore Records; 2013

a second live concert by Witch Mountain at Ash St. Saloon; for a tentative live album; 2013

two 10-inch EPs, a single, and a full-length album, by Portland avant-improv duo Gemet Gemet; 2013

a live CD EP by my own solo project, Somebody's Got An Axe To Grind; 2013

- and of course, there are plenty of other projects already in the works as of 2016!


Although this began as a hobby, it has also provided a means to create inexpensive, quality recordings. This can be useful for bands who may want to put out their own independent release, a demo, or even a tour CD.

Sonic Archives can provide you with an affordable, high-quality live recording that captures the energy of your performance. Services range from a basic analog or digital transfer, a fully-produced, tracked and edited master, to a case of finished CDs - packaged and complete with artwork, labels and inserts, and ready for distribution. Why not think about a simple and fun way to get your music heard, that won't cost you ton of money, and doesn't involve selling your soul?


Check out some of the G E A R used by Sonic Archives over the years.

Official R E L E A S E S which feature audio recordings I have engineered.

Outside P R O J E C T S which also feature my audio recordings.

A fairly complete O E U V R E of my recorded work


Please contact me via e-mail for a general list of rates and services.