Looking back on 2023, it was a very busy year! Let's recap, shall we:
Shawna Jackson Band
Yeah, I love this photo! That day was so cold, but as the troopers we are, we ventured forth with our photo session! I love all these folks and I really enjoy playing in this band! We already have a lot of shows lined up 2024 and looking forward to getting back on the stage!
OH! And we now have YouTube channel that has some awesome videos - check'em out:
In September of 2023, my wife and I took a dream trip to Italy! We stayed in Rome for a few days then went to Florence, Montepulciano and then ventured to Amalfi and stayed there for the remainder of the trip. We went to Colosseum, Vatican City and did the whole "tourist" experience. In Amalfi, we went to Sorento, Positano, Ravello and Vietri Sul Mare. The bus ride through all these towns was an experience all in itself - little narrow roads, on the side of huge mountains playing chicken with all the kamikaze scooter drivers zipping in and out of traffic. It was a wonderful trip, the food, the people, the food, the history... did I mention the food?! I would definitely recommend!
Marli-Jo is so beautiful and growing up so fast! I hope to be able to travel to SC to see her soon!
She is such a cutie featuring my beautiful wife!
My wife and I best friends and Godson :
Beautiful souls!! I hope to visit them in Florida soon!
New album "Called by Grace" - Released on Dec 22nd 2023!
A little back story on this project....
Shawna came up with the idea of recording some "old time Gospel" songs to give to her parents as gift for Christmas. By the way, she came to me with this idea in May, so I eagerly accepted the challenge and went to work in the studio, roughing out 12 songs on piano, organ, some guitar, bass, drums and scratch vocals. I mentioned this album to our worship leader Josh and worship team member Genesis, I asked if they would be interested in singing on any of the songs... turns out they were very interested. And thus starts the recording and production gauntlet!
For the next six months, almost every night and weekends (with the exception of the Italy and Lake Placid trip), I worked on this album. I reached out to my brother from another mother and one helluva pedal steel guitar player Shawn Altman in Georgia and asked if he could record some pedal steel on at least five of the songs. He graciously did so and did a fantastic job. Shawn also contacted a fiddle player Stan Edwards (Georgia Music Hall of Fame) to record some fiddle parts on "Just a Closer Walk with Thee" which were simply beautiful. Dan Messick (guitarist for Shawna Jackson Band) donated his valuable time, came to the studio and recorded some killer guitar parts on four songs.
Bruce Stone, John Hebert and Rick Leavitt also traveled to the studio to record "Because He Lives". The first time I actually had most of the band here all at once! We had such a great time!
Finally.... after all of us dealing with sporadic upper respiratory issues and busy schedules, all the vocal parts were done! Now it's on to the most tedious part of the process... the mixing, re-mixing... listening on several speaker sources, re-mixing again... re-recording parts, re-mixing again, listening and listening again.. again.. again...... and finally... ready for mastering.
I usually do the mastering myself but this time I wanted to try something different. I kept seeing various "online mastering" tool/ services and thought... it can't be that easy... that's just cheating!
I am a huge fan of Steven Slate and his recording plugin products - so I looked up on the interwebs to see if he had anything like this and YES, he did! In case you're not familiar, this is an AI (Artificial Intelligence - Skynet - Positronic brain powered) online mastering tool that you upload your songs, it analyzes it, runs it through a flux capacitor, circulates it in a dilithium chamber, sprinkles on some magic unicorn dust and vola - instant mastered song.
It was a chilly day on Dec 21st, the sky was dark and ominous (actually it was sunny!) ... I desperately wanted to get this out before Christmas, time was running out... the fate of all the galaxy was resting on my shoulders with the completion of this album not to mention I was damned tired!! With my hands trembling, sweat pouring from forehead, my pugs eagerly watching every move I made (I was eating a banana muffin at that time), I threw caution to the wind, said a prayer to the "big guy" and I uploaded all the songs to the Steven Slate mastering site, clicked process and let the magic commence.
After an eternity (it was actually about an hour), with bated breath and on the edge of my seat, I clicked on one of the "mastered" tracks..... You're on the edge of your seat aren't you? Well stay tuned for the continuation of this story.... nahhhhh.... just kidding!
What came out of my studio monitors was like the heavens opened up, Angels were singing and Blessed by God .... okay I wouldn't go far... but it sounded truly awesome! The huge, warm, dare I say "professional" sounding tracks The Steven Slate Mastering AI algorithm did was nothing short of miracle....a Christmas Miracle!
Well that's all folks - 2023 wrapped up in a nice little bow and 2024 looks to be just as adventurous. Here's to you, the reader of this blog.... good health to you and your family, be kind to each other, eat a bounty of banana muffins, drink good beer (because friends don't let friends drink bad beer!) and please... for the love of God.... please don't vote for Trump!
Thank you and good night!