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The original Sonic Archives logo - my first coaster!

Music For Public Consumption.

1980 – 2022

Like a lot of people who have played in bands, I always thought it was a good idea to do everything myself. By “everything”, I mean not just writing your own music, but recording it and distributing it, by whatever means necessary.

Nowadays, there are a number of convenient labels for this kind of ethic, from “D.I.Y.”, “indie”, “alternative”, etc. While I don’t think those terms really describe much in the present day, at one time they represented a true alternative to the traditional ways in which bands made music and presented it to the general public.

This independent entrepreneurial spirit was as motivated by an abundance of passion, as much as it was by a lack of capital. There was always a certain amount of pride in being able to exercise complete control over how you presented your art to the world at large. More often than not, limited funds simply forced bands to become more creative, and more resourceful, in terms of how their music would be packaged and marketed.

Back before the days of burning your own CDs or MySpace, I certainly learned about the economics of recording and distribution, when working with Borrowed Time – recording, mixing and producing cassette albums for our home-based Forth World Ltd. label. As with many bands, we found the costs of record pressing plants prohibitive, considering the limited number of albums we wanted to release, so we resorted to cassette albums. Interestingly enough, this medium has found itself back in vogue, in the beginning of the 21st century.

Once the technology became available to record and produce CD media on a home computer, I felt like I had found my niche. This was the piece of the industrial revolution I had been waiting for, and I honestly don’t think the music industry can ever be the same again. There will probably always be corporate record labels, and artists who are seeking that level of success might not see the use for this small-scale independent style of production and distribution. Think about it this way: maybe you only want a limited number of discs to sell at shows, or to give away for promotional purposes. You really don’t need an expensive studio recording, and you also don’t need to pay for more copies than you actually need.

As much as I enjoy playing music, I particularly enjoy recording music – especially in a live setting. I also like tweaking it on my system at home, and discovering how I might be able to bring out more of the dynamics that are already there, rather than add in a lot of superfluous production. I believe the process should be simple and painless; most importantly, the result should be an accurate representation of what the music actually sounds like. Most people would be surprised how little is actually required to make that happen.

These are some of the recordings I’ve recorded, mastered and released since the turn of the millennium, using minimal equipment and a shoestring budget. These days, you can even print your own sleeves and labels, and eliminate jewel cases altogether. And yes, you can do it all by yourself – but when you’d rather just concentrate on the music, it just might come in handy to have someone else twiddling the dials.

Oeuvre

Here is a list of all currently known officially released audio artifacts I had a hand in either recording, mixing, producing, mastering; as well as a selection of various one-off projects I worked on, or contributed to.

Mastered / Hand-Embossed Mono Lathecut Disc

Two tracks:
None For All
Whiskey Girl

Originally released in 2012 as a CD and tape release • lathe record release limited to 10 copies

Half-Speed Mastered and Hand-Embossed to Lathecut Disc

Five studio tracks + one live track
Mastered for vinyl at 33 1/3rpm and embossed at 45rpm (microgroove)
Limited Edition of 50 copies

Recorded / Mixed / Mastered / Hand-Cut to Stereo Lathecut Disc.

Multitrack recorded and mastered in 1984 • stereo diamond cut in 2021 on a Presto 8DG from the estate of Peter Bartok.
Limited Edition of One.

Digitized plunder-phonic mash-up from vintage vinyl LP / Mixed / Mastered / Hand-embossed to Mono Lathecut Discs.

Limited run of three Single-sided 5″ discs and twenty Single-sided 7″ Lathecut discs.

Recorded / Mixed / Mastered / Hand-Embossed Mono Lathecut Records

Prototype for proposed release.

Limited Edition of 3 single-sided Mono discs, hand-embossed on a Presto K-8 with backward sapphire stylus [!]

Recorded / Mixed / Mastered / Hand-Embossed Mono Lathecut Records

Limited Edition of 20. Presto K-8 with backward sapphire stylus.

Recorded / Mixed / Mastered / Hand-Embossed Mono Lathecut Records

Limited Edition of 20; Hand-Embossed on a Presto 6N with tungsten stylus.

Azimuth-optimized Analog > Digital transfer from original stereo cassette tape / Mastered to optimize stereo image

Live Video / Canon G12

Recorded Live in the basement Foyer of East End [RIP] • Portland OR

9/11/13 Gay Ghost plays their last show.

Part 1 of 2

Part 2 of 2

Live Video / Canon G12
Recorded Live at Tonic Lounge • Portland OR 13 March 2013

Part 1 of 3 / Songs 1 – 5
1. Ghost Ship
2. 30 Milligrams
3. Paperdolls
4. Shea
5. Meat Frenzy

Part 2 of 3 / Songs 6-8
6. Foreclosure
7. Bully
8. Machines That Make Men Miserable

Part 3 of 3 / Songs 9-10
9. Supercollider
10. Rose Colored Rose

Recorded / Mixed / Mastered

Lo-fi the way it was meant to be. A live rig with an on-board multi-track digital recorder, so what you hear on the CD is what heard if you were at the show that night.
Three tracks recorded live at Tonic Lounge in Portland, Oregon, Sunday May 19, 2013.
Live mix captured direct to 2-channel stereo; in 24-bit/48kHz.
Released 31 May 2013 All vocals, guitars, keyboards, loops, words and arrangements by J. Free.

Recorded / Mixed / Mastered

Live in-studio session; one of two drastically different mixes, both of which are intended to be played back simultaneously.

Recorded / Mixed / Mastered

Live in-studio session; one of two drastically different mixes, both of which are intended to be played back simultaneously.

Recorded / Mixed / Mastered

Single-takes only. Home recording never had it so good.
“Practice” sessions captured live on a digital recorder, as though their lives depended on it.
Two tracks recorded live in The Living Room; Portland OR; 2012-2013
An added vocal, some minor digital shuffling; no other enhancements or production techniques applied.

Recorded / Mixed / Mastered

Two guys with a few spare weekends, a room full of instruments, and a multi-channel digital recorder: something was bound to happen.
Everything recorded live in The Living Room; Portland OR; 2012-2013
A live vocal track thrown in for good measure; no other enhancements or production techniques applied.

Recorded

Nova Mob: Persuaded
[recorded live at Seventh Street Entry; Mpls, MN; 4 September 1993]

Limited edition collection of previously-released rarities; only 1000 copies were pressed for distribution during Grant Hart’s 2010 fall European tour.

Deja vu! My lone contribution to this release is a fiery version of Nova Mob’s “Persuaded”, which Grant particularly liked, and had also been submitted previously for the 1996 “Shuffle This” compilation [listed below]. As no mention was made of a recording credit or date on the first release of this track, it remains unidentified here as well, which is something Grant acknowledges in his liner notes. As mentioned elsewhere, it was easy enough to find the original tape of the show in my archives, and identify it by a few distinctive nuances. Again, if I had known this track was being re-issued, I would have adjusted the Azimuth of the playback head, and worked with my archived 24-bit transfer, which would benefit the sound quality immensely, but there you go. The PZMs do favor the low-end frequencies, which sometimes can overwhelm the highs and mids in a live mix. A minor concern, I suppose – as the performance stands on its’ own merits. Long live Nova Mob!

Recorded with two (or three) Tandy PZMs, straight to 2-track stereo.

Recorded live at The Ritz Theatre; Mpls, MN; May 2010; part of Heliotrope Festival No. 7

In May 2010, I found myself in my old hometown, and for three days, recorded twenty-eight bands in performance at The Ritz Theatre, as part of the 7th annual Heliotrope Festival. Out of the thirty-plus hours of recorded music which was accumulated, this intriguing little artifact came into existence.
Recorded with a pair of on-stage AT-2020 mics, combined with a 2-channel stereo soundboard feed; post-mix by Neil Zumwalde.

Live Audio Recording / Mixed / Mastered / synched to performance videos

Un Chien Andalou

Earth – Intro

Regen
Nanook of the North

Recorded Live at:
Whitsell Auditorium, Portland Art Museum • Portland, OR 29 January 2010

Recorded at Jimmy Mak’s; Portland, OR; 9 October 2009 / Mixed / Mastered

This turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Andrew and I had previously discussed the difficulty in achieving an appropriate balance of instruments when recording this group in a live situation.

I had originally hoped to use my custom 4-channel set-up for this performance, but the unit was out for repair. After several possible mic configurations during soundcheck, I decided just to opt for the simplest set-up, with a basic stereo pair of mics I was testing for Chris Church. I knew it would sound alright, but I wasn’t expecting as much dynamic range as we ended up with on the resultant recording. Apparently Andrew liked the results as well, and has since made it available through the Bandcamp site, for everyone to enjoy!

Recorded with a set of Church-Audio CA-14 pro-binaural cardioid mics; running through a Church-Audio AT-20 pre-amp, direct to a M-Audio Microtrack (16-bit/48kHz).
Selected tracks from this performance are available for download from The Kora Band’s Bandcamp site
To find out more about the Kora Band, visit his official site.

Rrecorded at Holocene; Portland, OR; 4 June 2009

PDX POP NOW! is something of a local celebration of Portland music; an annual series of events to commemorate each new release on the label of the same name. This recording came from the CD release party for the sixth 2-CD compilation since the project began in 2004. Originally, I had made arrangements to record two of the bands that night, but ended up documenting the entire evening. Several video clips were made as well – some of which can be found online, if you look in the right places.

What’s Up? played their set right in the middle of the dance floor, and mesmerized the crowd with an upbeat assault of instrumental math rock, or something like that. I recorded the set for posterity, and was surprised to walk into a record store and see it on the shelf, just a little over a month after the fact. Pretty limited edition, for all you collectors out there.

Recorded with a set of Church-Audio pro-binaural cardioid mics; running through a Church-Audio AT-20 pre-amp, direct to a M-Audio Microtrack (16-bit/44.1kHz). No frills, all thrills.

Recorded at Seventh Street Entry; Mpls, MN; 6 June 1998

Plymouth Rock
Candy Machine
Sangre De Stephanie
Lets Get Incredible

Before The Hold Steady became something of a regular fixture on the club circuit, there was a little Mid-Western band called Lifter Puller. For six years, that group carved out a unique niche of urban lowlife narratives and blazing rock nuance, before calling it a day in 2000. In December 2008, former LFTR PLLR guitarist Steve Barone sent me an e-mail explaining that the band planned to reissue their out-of-print back catalogue, and they wanted include a slew of “bonus” tracks – including a few songs from live recordings I had made of the band during their heyday in the previous decade.

Although the group originally reissued their albums as physical CDs – compiled for the 2002 Soft Rock release, those versions included a number of studio bonus tracks, and not the live recordings. The 2009 re-reissues were apparently only made available as digital downloads, through places like iTunes; emusic; Amazon, etc. That means that my archived 24/96 definition Azimuth-optimized .flac versions have yet to be heard by anyone, including the band members themselves. Chalk it up to one more recording/contribution credit I won’t be seeing anywhere except on my original hand-scribbled cassettes …c’est la vie, I guess. Ah, the crazy world of rock’n’roll …

Recorded with two PZMs, straight to 2-track stereo.

Recorded Live at Seventh Street Entry; Mpls, MN; 6 June 1998

To Live And Die In LBI
Nassau Coliseum
The Bears
Sherman City

Recorded with two PZMs, straight to 2-track stereo.

Live Audio and Video Recording / Edited / Mastered / Video + Audio Synchronization

“Music on Main Street” Outdoor Series

Recorded Live at:
Portland Center for the Performing Arts
Portland, OR 26 August 2009

Live Audio and Video Recording / Edited / Mastered / Video + Audio Synchronization

The Knife

Stockholm

Drone & Brush

Recorded Live at HOMEland Gallery • Portland, OR 26 June 2009

Live Audio and Video Recording / Edited / Mastered / Video + Audio Synchronization

The Taxpayers
What’s Up?
Jared Mees and the Grown Children
Copy

PDX Pop Now! 2009 CD Release Party
Holocene
Portland, OR 4 June 2009

Live Audio and Video Recording / Edited / Mastered / Video + Audio Synchronization

I Walk Alone

Holocene
Portland, OR 9 April 2009

Live Audio and Video Recording / Edited / Mastered / Video + Audio Synchronization

Blue Cranes
Chamber Of Commerce

In conjunction with the 2009 Portland Jazz Festival
Portland Center for the Performing Arts
Portland, OR 20 February 2009

Recorded / Mixed / Mastered / Video – Audio Synchronization

Twenty-five years in the making; an unholy marriage of old-school analog video and audio in the modern digital realm.

Originally filmed and recorded on February 10, 1985 at The Whole in Minneapolis, this represents the last will and testament of Borrowed Time. Mixed, mastered, and semi-produced at the close of 2008, this became my first venture into the world of moving pictures. I don’t think it turned out half-bad, if I do say so myself.

Now you can witness this intimate performance, as it was originally seen through the video lens of renowned Mpls photographer Sean Smuda. Using every scrap of footage that was available, this video artifact was transferred from VHS, painstakingly synchronized with three different audio sources, and edited with additional photographs and audio tracks, all with Apple software on a Mac G5.

Live alphorn and accordion recordings for custom Oktoberfest ringtones / Edited / Mixed / Mastered / Web Design

Marvin McCoy and Steve Ecklund
The Matterhorn Trio
Nancy Lindgren
Hank Thunander
Dreamland Faces

http://blackforestinnmpls.com/pgs/shop.php

All audio Recorded Live at The Black Forest Inn in Minneapolis, MN during Oktoberfest 2008

Recorded Live at Holocene • Portland, OR 29 June 2008 / Mixed / Mastered

Dying to Work

Pigeon Feeder

First Monday

live recordings synched to films by Ryan Bukstein

The Discussion

This Comforting Thing

live recordings synched to films by Jean Smith

Recorded Live at Battle Ground, WA 4 May 2008

Live Mix / Recording

Malachi

live recording synched to a film by Jean Smith

Recorded Live at Eagles Hall Ballroom • Olympia, WA 3 May 2008

Recorded / Mixed / Mastered

This was a fun project that came about through my involvement with punk rock bands, but stylistically took place on the other end of the musical spectrum – in a church, rather than a bar.

Organist / composer John Wall was approaching his 60th birthday, and planned a concert in which he could perform a retrospective overview of his work over the past thirty years. The mother of a guitarist I had done some work for wanted to record the event as a 60th birthday gift, and to serve as a legacy for his children.

Recorded direct to an Apple G4 laptop, with a set of Church-Audio pro-binaural mics; running through a Church-Audio AT-20 pre-amp, with a minidisc recorder as a pass-though/back-up unit. Mixed, mastered and digitally transferred, and labels printed on a PC.

Recorded / Mastered / harmonica recording synched to live recording

When The Levee Breaks

Papa Mali Recorded Live at
9th Big Wu Family Reunion
Harmony Park • Clark’s Grove, MN 28 May 2006

Harmonica track recorded in my former South Minneapolis home.

Recorded / Edited / Mixed / Mastered

Klezmer Medley

Recorded Live in Minneapolis, MN 2006 and synched to a photo slideshow from the performance

Recorded

Plate-O-Shrimp : Fuck You

Another classic burst of attitude from one of my favorite bands – to see, as well as to record – in the Twin Cities.

Recorded live at a TCPunk party in the 7th St. Entry, this track wound up being the band’s pick for a 4-song split-single with local compatriots The Unstuck. Their other contribution was as skillfully produced in the studio (by ace engineer Tom Herbers), as this track was skillfully “un-produced”. How to capture the energy of a live performance? Easy – you don’t mess with it.

This was the second time in a decade that one of my recordings ended up on a vinyl release – no less another split-single, and this time on flaming red vinyl!
Recorded with two PZMs, straight to 2-track stereo.

Recorded / Mixed / Mastered

Another lo-fi gem; recorded “live in the bedroom”, in two caffeine-fueled, hot summer afternoon sessions. Single takes, no overdubs. Econo-jams from the less-is-more school of rock.

Call me biased – after all, I was one-half of this power duo – but I think we nailed the guitar sound here with our practice amps better than our live Marshall / Mesa Boogie attack. There’s a lot to be said for clarity. You want loud? Turn it up. It won’t break.

Recorded direct to minidisc, with nothing more than two PZMs in front of two 25-watt practice amps, a drum machine, and a couple of low-end vocal mics; running through a 8-channel Mackie console. Mixed, mastered and digitally transferred, and labels printed on a PC.

Recorded live at 7th St. Entry, Mpls, MN

Janet The Pig and Mr. Whitefolks

Rick Fuller + Co. in a post-Venison sort of joint. If it were Manchester instead of Minneapolis, this lot would have been our version of The Fall.

Recorded with two PZMs, straight to 2-track stereo cassette.

Recorded live at The Turf Club; St. Paul, MN; 12 June 2003

Weed And Whiskey

This band was a favorite of mine for a couple years, before they cashed in their chips and scattered themselves across the globe. Someone once described them as a weird hybrid of George Thorogood and Metallica, and while that might be a bit far-reaching, the general cross-reference is true enough. This one is particularly special to me, because I actually play on most of the tracks, in addition to the live track I recorded.

I bumped into these guys at a Plate-O-Shrimp show I was taping, and they asked what I would charge to record them as well. My stock answer at that time was “beer”, so it was pretty much a done deal. When Rich came to pick up the disc at my house, I learned that the band had just lost their harmonica player, and somehow without thinking, I talked myself into filling that spot for the next year or so. Playing with The Pushrods led me into two other bands that I juggled for the next few years: Panel Of Experts, and The Summer People. I miss ’em all, but nothing good lasts forever.
The live track here was recorded with two Tandy PZMs, straight to 2-track stereo. No artificial sweeteners added. Just good old-fashioned raunch’n’roll.

Recorded live at First Avenue; Mpls MN; 18 November 2003

Queen of Cans and Jars

During the twenty-odd years I was associated with First Avenue / Seventh Street Entry, I recorded hundreds of bands and live performances. As the club approached its’ 25th anniversary, I had suggested to the club’s management that we should put together a compilation album as a fundraiser.

Ironically, that idea actually came to fruition ten years later, under the auspices of the Diverse Emerging Music Organization (DEMO). Originally operating as the Developing Arts and Music Foundation (DAMF), DEMO is a nonprofit organization which was created to support and promote a diverse range of music in the Twin Cities.

This compilation included a wide range of local and national artists who had performed at the venue over the years, and was also the second album in the same year that boasted one of my recorded tracks from Guided By Voices. I must have been doing something right.

Stereo soundboard feeds, combined with two stereo-panned PZMs mounted on a stand, mixed live through a 4-channel mixing console, simultaneously to 2-track stereo cassette and CD-R writer.

Recorded live at First Avenue; Mpls, MN; 22 February 1996

King And Caroline and Motor Away

This was almost too ridiculously good to be true. I happened to work at this venue, and had taken the night off just so I could go down and record my favorite band with no distractions. What do you suppose happened? The regular stage production manager had taken the night off, and the person filling in for him asked me if I wanted to work that night. Naturally, I said no way – until he told me that what he needed was a security person at the soundboard. That sounded good to me – getting paid to watch the soundboard, while recording my favorite band. Then, as the evening progressed, the regular sound-person asked me if I wanted to run the board for awhile, since he wasn’t feeling too well, and I knew the band’s material. What could have been better than that? I’ll tell you – finding out that the band decided to include a couple of tracks from my recording on this monumental box set!!

Stereo soundboard feeds, combined with two stereo-panned PZMs mounted on a stand, mixed on-the-fly through a 4-channel mixing console, straight to 2-track stereo cassette. Live as it happened, with no post-production and no additives. Pure pop-rock, the way it was meant to be heard.

Recorded / Mixed / Mastered

A labour of love, compiled from two benefit concerts for Steve Moldenhauer – aka Moldy Ramone; featuring the creme de la creme of the Minneapolis TCPunk music community.

Two nights in the 7th St. Entry, eleven bands, 23 songs in all; recorded in glorious old-school 4-track – two PZMs mounted in the room, mixed with two soundboard channels. Many of these tracks were mixed with assistance from the artists themselves; edited, mastered and transferred to disc with home PC technology.

This double-album-length disc features unreleased live tracks by Arcwelder, Baby Grant Johnson, The Clams, Coffin Cheaters, Kontrol Panel, The Mighty Mofos, Plate-O-Shrimp, Red Vendetta, The Squabs, Trailer Park Queen, and Vaseline Alley – MC’ed by the one and only Ollie Stench, and featuring the man of the hour himself, Moldy Ramone, singing with a few of his favorite bands.

All proceeds from the sale of this CD donated to charity via The Moldy Ramone Memorial Trust Fund.

Recorded / Mixed / Mastered

TCPunk rock stalwart Moldy Ramone takes the mic with pub rockers Plate-O-Shrimp, for a handful of punk/garage rock classics including Attitude, Blitzkrieg Bop, Chinese Rocks, I Don’t Care, I Wanna Be Sedated, and Sonic Reducer.

Compiled from two shows: Feb 17 & Oct 19, 2002, at the 7th St. Entry in Minneapolis. This disc marked the first release on the limited edition One Ugly Puppy Productions label. All proceeds from the sale of this disc were to aid Moldy in his fight with cancer, and his wife Tanya, in their medical expenses.
Recorded with two PZMs, straight to 2-track stereo. Edited, tracked, mastered and digitally transferred, sleeves printed, all on a home PC.

Recorded live at Seventh Street Entry; Mpls, MN; 2002

The first time I ventured out to The House Of Rock, in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, this bunch of hooligans happened to be the main act, and I can still remember that night like it was yesterday. They commanded the stage, with a presence both charismatic and ominous, exuding an air of almost giddy intensity.

I was working with The Hundred Flowers at the time, and got the idea to bring them out to Eau Claire to share a bill with these fine lads. They all got on so well that in 2002, we decided to bring ’em back to Minneapolis with us for a show at the Seventh Street Entry. Naturally, I recorded their set for posterity.

As it turned out, they liked the recording enough to make it their first full-length release – albeit, a limited edition promotional CD. To follow that up, they had to have AmRep alumni Tim Mac record and produce their first studio album. Makes a fella proud to be in such good company.

Recorded with two PZMs, straight to 2-track stereo. No frills, no middlemen. nothing added or removed – all the energy goes straight to you!

Give it a listen, or pick up a digital copy here:
https://thenicotinesec.bandcamp.com/album/joey-g-the-handsome-three-live

Recorded / Mixed / Mastered

This impromptu “E.P.” is actually a 38-minute live set from a band that seemed poised to stand glam rock on its’ head and give it a good spin. [Not the Bay Area 100 Flowers of early punk fame, but a little-known group of inspired and talented individuals in Minneapolis, who have since gone on to even bigger projects.]

Recorded at The Fireside Bowl in Chicago, Illinois, on September 15th, 2001, this lo-fi/high-energy set captures all of the hopes, dreams and fears of a post-Y2K generation that suddenly found itself standing in the shadow of a looming apocalypse only days earlier.

The initial run of 100 discs, featured each packaged in a unique hand-painted sleeve (front and back), with the flyer for the show reproduced on the disc’s label.
Recorded using only a pair of PZMs mounted on a 12-ft mic stand, running directly into a stand-alone CD-writer; digitally tracked, edited, mastered and transferred to disc, on a PC.

Recorded live at Seventh Street Entry; Mpls, MN; August 2, 1996

Venison :
Guns
Forward
Grand Tradition Of No One

The post-humous “odds and sods” anthology of the largely overlooked pride and joy of both Eau Claire and Minneapolis.

Recorded with two PZMs, straight to 2-track stereo.

Recorded live at Seventh Street Entry; Mpls, MN; 4 September 1993

Nova Mob : Persuaded

Grant Hart has long been a favorite songwriter/performer of mine as well as an old pal, and I’ve recorded him in a number of incarnations over the years, dating back to his days as a drummer in Husker Du. The release of this particular track was a surprise to me, as I had been living in Tampa Bay when it was released; and a friend told me about it several months after the fact. The Squealer was one of a long line of Twin Cities based ‘zines, inaugurated in 1994, and made possible through the efforts of folks like Paul Bernstein (who also played bass in the band Stereo), and renowned writer Leo Kuelbs, Jr. Before disappearing from the Mpls music scene altogether, The Squealer crew assembled this virtual time capsule of the mid-’90s local music scene, including Suicide Commandos, Magnolias, Soul Asylum, Cows, Run Westy Run, and many others.

My lone contribution to this release is a fiery version of Nova Mob’s “Persuaded”, which Grant particularly liked, and submitted instead of a studio track. No mention was made of a recording credit (!) or a date, but it was easy enough to find the original tape of the show in my archives, and identify it by a few distinctive nuances. As an afterthought, if I had known this track was being submitted, I might have attempted to tweak the sound quality just a wee bit, as I’ve noticed that the PZMs tend to favor the low-end frequencies, which sometimes can overwhelm the highs and mids in a live mix. A minor concern, I suppose – as the performance stands on its’ own merits. Long live Nova Mob!

Recorded with two (or three) Tandy PZMs, straight to 2-track stereo.

Recorded

The Manic Impression Of Mutiny and Dung Hi!
split-7″ single w/ Meringue

Recorded during the “speed sessions” of 6-95, in Tampa, Florida, at the home of drummer Chris Millstein (who now plays with the equally excellent band Home).

This was one of those serendipitous events every taper lives for – one of the very first times I was able to adapt my live-recording techniques to a “studio” situation, resulting in a bona fide release! Actual vinyl, no less – green vinyl, even!

The backing instrumental tracks (drums, bass, guitar) were recorded direct to 4-track, using three or four PZMs, which were literally duct-taped to makeshift isolation panels cut from cardboard boxes. Voices and short-wave radio were added and deftly mixed by the band, and – voila! – one side of a split-single!

Recorded live at Seventh Street Entry; Mpls, MN; 5 June 1994 / Mixed / Mastered

Oaks Of Righteousness : Wanna Suck Marrow

More info about this release and the label it rode in on can be found on the Davis…Not Elvis blog.

Recorded with two Tandy PZMs, straight to 2-track stereo.

Recorded / Mixed / Mastered

667 and Bad Poem
Recorded live at Seventh Street Entry; Mpls, MN; Christmas 1992

An impromptu Christmas show at Seventh Street Entry provided a terrific opportunity to record a live set by underground rockers Drown, which in turn led to them including a couple of live tracks on their DIY cassette demo/album, Fistful Of Flowers.

The cassette also included studio tracks recorded by alt-country rocker Rich Mattson, and the inner sleeve sported a live photo I shot at the same show. Come to think of it, I wound up helping craft the band logo as well, with guitarist/vocalist Paul Edmunds, who was a co-worker of mine at Kinko’s in downtown Mpls.

Another interesting footnote about this band is that their drummer ended up playing with The Hundred Flowers almost ten years later, during the time I was managing and booking shows for that group. Ah, the small and wacky world of rock + roll.

Recorded with two Tandy PZMs, straight to 2-track stereo. Live as can in be, and in your face.

Recorded / Mixed / Mastered

This was an early dream come true – to be in a band that ran our own label, and produced our own music. Guitarist Melne and I had already released a considerable mount of material on cassette albums, culled from our live shows. Now we had graduated to an actual recording studio, and the temptation to channel every single audio trick we knew was almost too tough to resist. Fortunately for everyone, we managed to curb our excessive indulgences during the final stages of production, and the result was a studio recording that sounds as natural as the band’s live sound.

We had read about various recording techniques used by people like David Byrne and Brian Eno, and we thought we’d like to try some unconventional methods of producing our own music. We convinced Pax Studio owner and sound engineer Jeff Labelle to let us buy enough time for him to teach us some of the finer points of mixing and production, and we became co-producers of our first studio recording. It was an invaluable education, and a lot of what I learned back then has carried over into my continued interest in mixing live sound, and mastering live recordings.

Recorded / Mixed / Mastered

In Borrowed Time, Ward, Melne and I really, really, really liked the band Joy Division, although I don’t think any of us connected with the stigma that gave the band such an appeal within the Goth scene. We just heard an amalgamation of great hooks, melody lines, and lyrics, and a natural, unpretentious energy.

Considering our shared disdain for most studio production, we agreed that Martin Hannett’s studio production seemed uncannily intuitive in regards to their sound. However, when we heard a few covert live recordings of Joy Division, it was a completely different experience, revealing a passionate, fiery energy beneath their somber facade. I think this is what inspired us to learn a handful of their songs. We only played this set of material twice in our studio, and recorded the songs on a boom-box for posterity. It was never intended to be an album, but we liked these versions of the songs, and decided to share them as “bonus” tracks on one of our other releases.

This is pretty likely an incomplete list, as it has not always been possible to keep informed when one of my  recordings has been used for an official release.

If you are aware of any missing titles from this list – or even better – you actually have any of the earliest releases – please let me know! I’d love to have a complete archives of all the official releases with my recorded or mastered audio!

…but wait – there’s more!

New projects are happening all the time. In my capacity as a Stage Manager and Audio Engineer for Portland’s NoFest and PDX Pop Now! music and art festivals over the past couple of years, I’ve documented dozens of groups, in the hopes that we’ll be able to release some sort of compilation(s) in the not-too-distant future. In 2011, I also recorded a month-long residency at The Laurelthirst Public House by Michael Hurley and The Croakers, following some discussions about a similar type of live release. Conversely, Michael Hurley recruited me as an engineer to record a couple of other local artists, Alexa Wiley, and Trevor Guiliani, who performed their original compositions in my SE home, for a planned release to help raise awareness about The Monsanto Corporation.

Other odds + sods which may still be floating around in the ether somewhere:

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

• 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

• 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 recording for Portland (OR) doom/metal group Witch Mountain at The Aladdin Theatre; which helped the band secure a label deal with Profound Lore Records; 2013

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

Somewhere in the middle of all this ruckus, there were other projects which were shelved for various reasons, and perhaps a few more out there that I don’t know about. Part of a live performance I recorded in Tampa by Howard Stelzer [Intransitive label], ended up re-worked on one of his early cassette releases in 1994 – The Audience, released under the moniker Your Mother. Yo La Tengo had talked about using a track from a show of theirs I recorded in Mpls in 1995, but as far as I know, nothing came of that plan. Lou Barlow gave me permission to release a Sebadoh show I recorded in 1991, but at the time, there was a lot I hadn’t worked out yet about how to release and distribute albums on a larger scale than what I had done in the past with my own local releases. In 1992, I had begun drafting my own label series of compilation EPs, which would feature bands as varied as Amanda By Night, The Surahoolies, Exploding Head Trick, Lemon Grass, among others. For one reason or another, those plans were interrupted, and by the time things were back on track, it seemed all of the bands no longer existed. That’s life in the fast lane, I guess.

In addition to all of the officially released or planned projects, a number of artists opted to use some of the recordings I made, simply to promote themselves via the internet. Sites including MySpace, virb, and vimeo, as well as various band sites, have featured tracks I’ve recorded, including Kyle Williams; Retake Productions; Tom Kha and the Rainbow Jive Hammer. I’m afraid it’s almost pointless to post links to many of these, as nothing seems to stay the same for very long in cyberspace. As of 2012, there are still tracks I recorded by Minneapolis groups Delta Lyrae [“Spacewalk” and “Fall”], and Timbuktu on MySpace.

The Live Music Archive is a site which retains a more permanent presence, and some of my recordings can be found there as well, including:

ALBINO! Live at Mississippi Studios on 2009-09-10

All Mighty Senators Live at Cabooze on 2004-05-06

Little Feat Live at The Aladdin Theater on 2012-03-20

Low Live at Redeye Theater on 1993-09-30

Ween Live at 7th Street Entry on 1991-03-04

Ween – On The Road 1992 – Pod Tour Compilation
22 Tender Situation (1992-03-08 Minneapolis)

I’ve also got at least one on the e-tree site:

Matisyahu with Wookiefoot 2004 October 31 Mpls MN Cabooze