Mix Regional: Nashville

L-R: Bassist Chris Donahue, drummer Fred Eltringham, producer/multi-instrumentalist Dave Brainard, Sunny Sweeney and engineer Jordan Rigby.


Dave Brainard produced singer/songwriter Sunny Sweeneys latest Thirty Tigers release, Trophy, in his deciBel studio and at Sound Emporium. Its a clever, lovely, well-crafted collection of story songs, realized by Sweeneys beautiful voice and force of personality.

“My process starts with pre-production, Brainard says. We got together in my studio, where I have a couple of booths and control rooms, and we cut acoustic tracks—sketching out sounds and a roadmap for the album.”

He and engineer Jordan Rigby then captured drums, bass and piano in the larger commercial facility.On most of the records I do, I use the CLASP system, going to analog tape,” says Brainard. “So there are a couple of places I love to go to because of the tape machines; Sound Emporium Studio A has a great Studer [A827], and I love that room because its a big open space, but its not very ambient. You can deaden the drums a little bit, and get a little more of a tape sound—a vintage, no-room, dry type of thing.”

Overdubs, including Sweeneys vocals, were tracked in deciBel. Funny but not joking, Brainard says, Sunnys vocal chain starts with great songs, a great voice, a glass of wine, an Audio-Technica 4050, and then into an API 512 into an LA2A, and then it would go to my Studer A807 machine. To me, thats where the magic happens with a singer like Sunny, because she really leans into it. The tape is that final piece.”


Old Crow Medicine Show has covered Dylan before. Their version of Wagon Wheel was a breakthrough hit in 2004, and they’ve included Dylan songs on more recent albums. But it must have taken exceptional bravery and vision to remake Blonde on Blondein front of a live audience in the 800-seat CMA Theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame.

We had no plans of recording or filming the concerts,” explains Norm Parenteau, the band’s manager and executive producer of a DVD that documents the performances. I attended the rehearsal at the CMA Theater three days before the show and realized it was going to be something special. I knew we had to capture it, so I hired Lee Tucker to put a film crew together and asked our sound guys [front-of-house mixer/recording engineer Chris Serino and monitor engineer Pete Parenteau] to rent recording equipment.”

Serino captured the sessions to Pro Tools. His input list on the dates included DPA 4099s on fiddles, Shure Beta 98s on banjos, and SM58s on vocals. Drums were recorded with a Shure Beta 91 inside the kick and Audix D6 outside, SM57s on snare top and bottom, D4s on toms, Shure KSM137 on hi-hat, and AKG C414s as overheads.

Old Crows version of Blonde on Blonde—recorded by Dylan in Columbia Studios in New York and Nashville in 1966turns the folk-rock masterpiece into a high-test bluegrass romp, similar to the other borderline punk albums they’ve made with engineer Ryan Mall and producer Ted Hutt, the team that mixed the band’s new version in Kingsize Soundlabs (L.A.).

Having worked on a couple of records with them and knowing their affinity for Bob Dylan, it felt like, if there’s a band that could pull that off and do it in its own way, it would be Old Crow,” says Hutt. “They completely put their own spin on it.”


Producer Tom Hambridge worked with the great Buddy Guy in Blackbird Studios with engineer Ducky Carlisle and assistant Sean Badum. Guys vocal chain included a Neumann U47, Neve 1073 preamp and a TubeTech CL-1B compressor.

I like to record live with Buddy and a full band on the floor playing together,” Hambridge says.I play drums, and Buddy and I set up facing each other. We had Buddy play- ing through three amps: a Dumble Head into a ’70s Marshall 4×12 cabinet. We also used a modified Tweed Fender Deluxe and a Fender Tweed 4×10 Bassman.”


House of David Studios closed its doors for three years earlier in the decade, but the studio has been busy since re-opening in 2015. Recent sessions have included Grammy-winning producer Dave Cobb with Rival Sons and Amanda Shires, and producer/engineer Justin Tockett working with Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Barry Zito to record his first album since retiring from baseball. The studio has also hosted video projects, including the Web series The Producers Room with Dave Tough, featuring interviews with great Nashville producers such as Tony Brown, Dan Huff, Josh Leo and others.

“Currently, we are working on making custom IRs [impulse responses] for a company called Two Notes,” says studio manager Mike Lewis. “Brandon Henegar is the house engineer here and is an amazing guitar player. We have been getting a lot of work from companies wanting him to review their guitar pedals and amps.”



At Nashville Trax, Aaron McDaris (Rhonda Vincent and The Rage) played banjo on a song for Mike Anderson and the Mountainview Ramblers album with Bill Watson producing; the banjo is one that was played by Sonny Osbourne on the original recording of “Rocky Top. And Rascal Flatts drummer Jim Riley performed on the upcoming album by The Swansons, who worked with Watson as producer.


OMNIsound Studios recently added new equipment from Manley, Burl Audio, Universal Audio and others, and upgraded all of the studios to Avid HDX cards with Avid HD I/O. In the past year, the facility has hosted artists including Alison Krauss and Union Station, Tommy Emmanuel with Jason Isbell, New Found Glory, John Anderson, and Story of the Year.


Skyway provides broadcast and production services, as well as rehearsal space, in its 18,000-square-foot facility. In the month before this issue went to press, visitors to Skyway included Garth Brooks, Randy Travis, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley, Easten Corbin, Hunter Hayes and Carrie Underwood.


The newest additions to the analog mastering chain at Yes Master Studios are the Prism Sound Mastering EQ and the Dangerous Master Section. Of late, these pieces have been put to use on projects by Jimmy Buffett, Chris Young and Ronnie Milsap.

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