My Favorite Recordings #1
If this doesn't move you - you may be muerta... One of the most multi-talented singers to ever exist. Her complete control of her craft within any type/style of music is/was phenomenal. Not to mention that she is so incredibly beautiful, which matters little compared to her vocal talent of course. But still... thank God we got to experience her in our lifetimes, and that there are so many wonderful recordings of her at her peak - which was pretty much non-stop for well over 25 years.
People know her for her rock and roll, country and folk songs... but that is only a small portion of the incredible and uniquely beautiful recordings she left us. When she finally gained full control, the perfectionist in her always showed. Thank God she got to do pretty much whatever she wanted - though she had to fight the labels tooth and nail for approval at first. Later on when she said "I want to..." they just got out of her way thankfully.
I really like this album by Diana Krall - Wallflower - where she visits some old classics like Desperado, Alone Again, - one of my favorites is a duet with Sarah McLachlan "If You Could Read My Mind" - check it out on youtube before you buy - just be sure to check the HD filter.
You guys wanted to hear MY music, OK... here goes. Just remember though..... if it sounds a little dated, it was a LONG friggin' time ago... but here ya go~!
IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK - Dave Thomson 1989-1990 - Soundmaster's Studio, Houston, Texas & Music Row Audio, Nashville, Tennessee
Engineers: AV Middlestadt @ Soundmasters & Bil VornDick @ Music Row Audio
Thanks for posting your music Dave, it’s a real treat. I love the spirit and the beat. The recordings are excellent and the mix of instruments different from what I normally listen to. Fun, and entertaining music for sure, the best part of course being your voice and singing!
It's interesting listening to the difference between the two studios and their respective engineers, both of whom I respect and love to this very day.
AV Middlestadt of Soundmasters Studio in Houston, Texas worked with many major label artists in the 50's through the 90's. Kenny Dale, George Strait, Randy Corner, Clint Black, Mark Chestnut, Frenchy Burke, Shake Russell, Dana Cooper, Johnny Bush, Roy Head, Delbert McClinton, and many dozens of others.
Bil VornDick of Music Row Audio fame and now owns Mountside Productions, has recorded at just about every world class studio in the world, has won 9 Grammy's, and has been nominated for over 50 (by: 9/1/2020), and his walls covered with many other music and film awards, CMA, IBMA, ACMA, NAIRD, BMO and a dozen more worldwide. He just completed a project with The Eagles - Don Henley (Vince Gill took over for Glen Fry by the way) and The Dillards, and has worked with McCartney, Starr and literally hundreds if not thousands of world class artists (not sure how I got in there!) and who is still my publisher and handles my song catalog to this day. In fact, these are my songs... some OK, some fairly decent. I do pale in contrast with most of his clients. But at least I got to BE THERE... for a while.
But it's not the list of artists you hear of every day that he has had a hand in - and made some of the best audiophile recordings of... it is the more obscure to the public, but heros to the artists that exist on THIS LIST that you should pay attention to. All of these recordings will literally take your musical breath away. He is a true master of his craft that exists at the very pinnacle of the recording industry. And here is another list of people he has worked with: Bil VornDick Discography
Bil VornDick makes AUDIOPHILE grade recordings of the utmost high res quality. Some of the best craftspeople in the music industry, super-players like Jerry Douglass, Mark O'Conner, Alison Krauss, Vassar Clemments, Marty Robbins, Ralph Stanley, Craig Duncan, Bela Fleck... THOSE people make recordings that move your heart AND your mind... THIS is the guy that recorded and produced those incredible, high quality audiophile level albums. There are few better acoustic instrument and vocal recordists in this world in fact.
Ah, we all have our personal history... some good, some forgettable! This was I must admit, one of the better times of my youth. It pretty much consumed it in fact. Without this short mid-level career Raven Audio would actually not exist. So there is that. And that brings us to why I am telling this mini-history.
By the way... what amplifiers does Bil Vorndick prefer? Yep. Raven Audio... as a matter of fact, he's the president of the Raven Audio Advisory Council, and always has been. We are lucky to be associated with some of the most talented music industry people around. Good solid professionals dedicated to their craft. More on that later...
Much appreciated Dave - you are a dead ringer for Marty Stuart. So Bill VornDick is why Alison Kraus is my numero uno female vocalist - I use New Favorite as a test for any new piece of equipment. Dave, you are a real crooner - I bet you got around to Gilleys and the Dome Shadows in Houston back in the late 60's, '70s.
Gilley's... MANY times. Too many nights to remember. But Dome Shadows was not one of my haunts, nor did I ever play there, BUT my classmates always did, and so did my brothers. The Cellar in the Almeda Mall area used to be one of my favorite places to go back around 1970-72... We weren't even supposed to be in those places back then but since we were musicians we got in the back door, and as our faces grew more recognizable, the front door - for free... finally opened to us - almost always on the run to get there after our gigs were over. We FLEW downtown after the Pasadena clubs closed at midnight, usually staying till well after closing.
Larry's Beer Joint on Spencer Highway, along with a dozen other places were more me at that time - for a while anyway. There and Baytown were where I first stood on a stage playing bass for a little country band in high school. While in high school we had to go out into the parking lot between sets! We got put in jail one night in Crosby for being in the parking lot behind a club with beer bottles laying around that weren't even ours, well most of them anyway... of course people slipped us all kinds of things back then during our sets. I know we had to have been terrible... I still only barely play bass! Why I picked that instrument up first was because the lead singer played guitar and we already had a drummer.
I remember that we stayed constantly booked on weekends anyway somehow, and thank God for Sundays to sleep before school on Monday. My parents were beside themselves at first, then I went to work for Brown & Root and playing weekends wasn't an item of contention anymore... but it kept me out of college... I was well on my way to becoming a degenerate musican, a "weekend warrior" with a construction job that paid my bills - and it was B&R that eventually paid to put me through trade and piping design school. But we are drifting off-subject...
Market Square was another haunt back then - there was really great live music at a friggin' pizza joint down there of all places. We quickly took off our boots and slipped on sneakers or flipflops that we kept in the back of our vans, of course we ALL had vans back then... and took off downtown after our gigs, almost every Saturday night - but I was just a kid though... After a few years of doing that Houston thing I quickly got disenchanted and headed to San Marcos and Austin, and never turned back. I quickly made myself at home at Armadillo World Headquarters before they tore it down... working at an engineering place doing heat trace design during the week in San Marcos and as the stages grew larger and the band grew MUCH better....
I remember all the great art on those hallowed white cinderblock walls, especially the GI in Vietnam regalia charging at you as right in front of the men's room entrance~! This certainly wasn't Gilley's and the music was MUCH better and more alive, and so was the scene overall. I saw everyone from Captain Beefheart, Willie and Waylon (of course), to Frank Zappa, Micheal Martin Murphy and the Flying Burrito Bros, Charlie Daniels, Asleep at the Wheel, Toots and the Maytals, and Bob Marley - literally everyone who was ever going to be anyone. The music was never specifically any particular type and that of course is what changed my life. As long as it was good - that's what it was all about.
In Houston or other places, it was either country, rock or disco. Everything was separate. At the famed Armadillo, which was basically a huge old quonset hut structure (which they eventually tore down by 78-79 I believe) there existed a whole different musical and audience type world. Cowboys sat next to hippies rolling fat joints on tabletops, and the music didn't matter because it was always great no matter what. I'm sure the joints didn't hurt the atmosphere, though it clouded it up quite a bit. Wow do I miss those days... there has and never will be another venue like that. But all the clubs were always a surprise... as long as the music was good, nothing else mattered. Style of music didn't matter, only the quality of the art and artists did.
Even CBGB's in New York, though historic in its own right wasn't even, close. This was Austin, Texas in the 60's and 70's we are talking about... rock and roll mixed with country and southern art rock, everyone loved everyone once they passed through those doors. The world changed when that place disappeared... soon punk rock sifted in and the music of all styles mixed together nightly at the roughly thousand live music venues there... Heck, I saw Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys play at a hard core punk place downtown where the entire audience was completely punked out with safety pins through nipples and noses, garbage bags for dresses, electrical tape as eyebrows..... and that night they raised the roof on that place....
I remember Ralph being a little nervous before they started playing as I was lucky enough to be there right next to the band room entrance to the stage for his first appearance there... and the club owner was praying for them not to pack up and leave... which was a great decision because after a short but complete silence... that place just exploded 20-30 seconds into the first song. They actually came back about every 5-6 months selling out each show by word-of-mouth only far before the ads came out. You had to know someone to be able to get in to see Ralph Stanley at that venue... wish I remembered the name. It was a hoot~!
There was truly magic all around Austin back then! I was extremely fortunate to have been there at that time in musical history.
As for Bil VornDick's prowess in the studio with artists, almost all of his stuff is pure audiophile bliss. He also is the guy behind "Flight of the Cosmic Hippo" by Bela Fleck. So yeah. All of the greatest pickers, the ones that play behind all the big stars, they are also on major and minor artist level labels, he does them all. He has won Grammys with Ralph Stanley, Bela, Allison as you mentioned, and people like Mark O'Conner, Stuart Duncan, T-Bone Burnett, Michelle Shocked.... well heck, the link is HERE
He has been a dear friend for decades and Gabrielle and I stay at his place in Nashville every time we go by there. Wouldn't miss it for the world. Love the man more than the music. That says a LOT.
In fact, Bil and I produced an album by "Downfall Rising" a hard rock band from Lufkin, Texas once in Houston... back in 2013. My last foray into the music business. They were excellent and would have signed within another year, but they crossed some lines that they shouldn't have, and their lead singer, the wonderfully talanted Rachel Peloquin moved on, and because of that they eventually lost all traction. I put everything into it, as their manager starting with getting them to Bil. Then we put the money and power behind them with a well-known producer, and finally we got the buzz started in the industry, ever so properly and slowly. That's where they got impatient and screwed it all up. It only takes one band member to screw things up if you do them badly enough.
It's unfortunate too... I took a roundabout way and got them with with Bill Hamm the original top producer out of Austin, Texas responsible for ZZ Top, Clint Black, Mark Chestnutt, and quite a few others. At first he said, absolutely not~!!! Then we finally got him to listen to them. He actually loved them, and especially her... She was indeed truly world class. What would have occurred next was that she would have made it all the way and who knows what would have happened to them. They had this great cohesive powerful sound, so it may have worked. After doing all that, the next part was to hand them over.
The rest would not have been up to me... I was just the go-between that put all the pieces together. And it takes a LOT of very crucial pieces, all put together like a complicated puzzle - to pull something this complicated off... especially by 2012/13. We absolutely had world class everywhere... so it could have worked. And it almost did...
Rule Number One, Two and Three in the music business: You cannot get the big head until you actually sign. You are not a star until the ink has dried. And.... never screw your booking agent around... especially when he worked for ZZ Top for 25 years, and is best friends with Bill Hamm and ZZ Top~!!!
Unfortunately they ended up doing all three! Not her, the band. And they lost the million dollar backing of Bill Hamm. Bill eventually retired... again, after that. The truth is, he was already retired but when we approached him he immediately saw that rare "IT" factor... that thing that is so rare that it will pull any big time producer out of retirement - just one more time. But when IT turns into THAT... its over. I found out how quickly it is to lose a LOT of friggin' money too. That situation has cost managers millions over the years. Heck, even Johnny Cash's manager lost millions and died penniless... and that kind of thing is why the business no longer puts up with "THAT" stuff. You must be, should be, humble around those who have the power.
As usual, an ex-professional road musician will have many stories like this to tell.... this was only one of them. Most are not for telling in a public forum. Especially a Raven Audio forum. But sometimes you will get one or two or 10 out of me... I hope that's part of what makes this forum special.
Nice - wow, what a history - you have had enough experiences for 10 guys. Thanks for sharing your incredible background and the nuances of the music industry. Only the strong survive! Makes me appreciate so much more those who make it through the maze. Thanks Dave for such wonderful products, website, transparency and customer support - I am very impressed.
I'm just one member of this incredible team now... and THAT is what you are now listening to. Not just me... but US! Thank God for such a great blessing that the right people came together at such a perfect time. And THAT is how I feel about everything now.