Recording Session

Felix Reyes, Producer, Chicago House of ToneFelix Reyes, Producer, Chicago House of Tone

In January we recorded our first album. That is only stage one. I have to fly to Chicago in March to mix it with Felix. Before that I have to figure out how to get and use Pro Tools so I can at least start the edit. After the mixing it will have to be mastered. But that does not involve any learning. I send it to somebody Felix knows in Texas, along with money. 

You may remember how we met Felix. He came to The Harlem Flophouse on his way to The Midnight Ramble in Woodstock NY. He was performing there with somebody he referred to as Hook. Hook plays blues harmonica. Hook is famous or notorious, actually both. I have not met him yet.

When Felix booked the room he did a little research on its owner, me. He found out I had a band. He asked if I was playing that weekend and I was, on Sunday, which was perfect. Felix came in the afternoon and rehearsed with us.He played with us to the an almost empty bar, Paris Blues in Harlem. It was magic.

I took him around the darkened streets of Harlem on the Friday before. I showed him Bill’s place, PB and a quick stop at The Lenox Lounge. He liked how at Bill’s Place you had to stop in at a local liquor store, the kind with a thick plastic bullet proof shield engulfing the entire establishment. You bring your own brew to Bill’s. Bill only provides the music.

We kept in touch on Facebook after that. During the following summer Felix suggested coming back to The Harlem Flophouse to record the band. We worked out the dates of January 6th — 13th. 

I closed the entire house. Kosi and I went shopping and loaded up on food. Amos and she stayed for the session. We were still up in the air on bass players. At the last minute a neighbor stepped in. Craig. The other Craig, not the shitty one. 

The first Sunday was grueling. As soon as Felix arrived he and Craig went to work figuring out a setup. We had to lay down “bed tracks” for all the tunes we wanted to do. Bed Tracks are essentially the drums and bass for a given song. The rest of the band has to be there performing sotto voce and unplugged so that the rhythm section knows where they are. I had pretty ambitious plan. We ended up getting six done.

Craig flew to Vegas on Monday. I spent it with Felix recording all of the rhythm tracks. On Tuesday we started doing the vocals. One at a time we went to the mic. Luckily we have been doing these tunes for awhile and one or two takes got it. I was wiped but Kosi suggested we go back to work at 7pm and get it all done. Wednesday was me doing lead guitar in the morning. That evening Craig returned. We had all the elements for the first six. We made a group decision to move on and do bed tracks for two more pieces. Thursday was spent going through the process again. 

We were more or less done. Felix and I were certainly finished. Exhausted. Felix made bounces and I got a listen to the raw tracks. They were good. Plenty of cuts and scratches and cigarette burns but good. Special. I think it will be like the Eraserhead of music for us. You know. The David Lynch film he made for 5 grand when he was in art school. Lots of imperfections, charming, and perhaps his best work.