This newest recording,
HEART is certainly a labor of love.
Without the full support of my executive producer, Charles Zeller…this record would have been of lesser quality. As it is we spent the dollars for the best results with fantastic talent….
When first it came to me that I wanted to record this piece with the technique in place forever, that being “scratch track / over-dubbing”…which had not been my method… ever…I was a bit nervous.
In February of ’18 I took a big batch of newer songs (un-released) to Austin into the studio of Chris Gage and laid them down as hot guitar/vocal as demos to listen to…and through the process had discussions with Chris about his methods of producing and recording technique. Chris, by the way, is one of the nicest guys and most talented musician/producer/songwriters in Austin. He inspired me to try doing overdub basic tracks. I was very wary of changing my long- standing technique and timid around Chris…
so I decided to go to my old, dear friend…The Eastside Flash or “Flash”
as we call him. A smaller (state of the art), simple studio that has no separation booths…Flash knew I would be experiencing a big learning curve (old dog-new tricks). I was completely comfortable making a fool of myself (remember I had many albums and many years of recording history behind me) with my friend. But as it turned out… it came fairly easily to me…so I kept recording with Flash and soon we felt I should continue and finish the whole project in his studio…and organically he took on the position of “producer”.
All my career of recording had been what I have always referred to as “hot basics” ; meaning I would perform the song live with whatever backing instruments I would use to establish the groove, without a “click track”, using rhythm instruments in separation booths….then use that as the foundation to overdub anything else desired to fill out the effect the producer and I were aiming for ….i.e. a back up vocal or piano trill, harmonica or added guitar or cello, dobro, etc. I shared this method with many of my contemporaries since my first recording in the mid ‘60s…Dylan, Jerry Jeff, Townes, Guy, Steve Earle etc. for all my career. Up to this recording.
So the standard technique (which seemed daunting to me) is …simply put : record a good performance using a click track (which is a digital metronome). That performance is used then as a reference (scratch track) and discarded later. Then using headphones, while playing back the scratch track performance, I laid down separate guitar tracks and vocal tracks…with the click track demanding perfect meter. That is used as the base-line for all tracks added later. The songs immediately started showing their personalities and potentials.
Though other talented players had been suggested…(whom I had never met), I had my own selection of old friends (who I later would deem “my dream band”)…
Flash on bass/piano/dobro on one song/baritone guitar on another
Herb Belofsky brought great drums/percussion to all the songs.
Cindy Cashdollar on all her slide instruments
Kenny Grimes on jazz lead electric
Redd Volkaert on rock lead guitar
Dana Cooper on harmonica and back ground vocal
Kristen DeWitt bringing sweet background vocals
Frankly, I wasn’t absolutely sure we had a “record” until we added the bass and percussion…then it was obvious…of the 15 songs…we trimmed down to the most cohesive 10. From there we finished out all the instrumentation we wanted. Flash continually amazed me with his engineering mastery. His producer instincts. His suggestions. His overall support during some emotional turmoil over the 9 months we used for the recording of the project…a true gentleman indeed.
When the final mix was done….I was personally on cloud nine because in my totally subjective head space, I was freaked about how good the production came out. Thus I needed to get some objective feed back from other friends in the business, mostly former producers, performing songwriting friends, etc.
Here are some of the comments (quotes) that came back in….
“I’ve been saying it’s your very best work, deep and touching, preformed so spot-on by you and your miraculous band (Cindy Cashdollar!!!!!!!!!!). You have become completely realized in this project. Bravo ! In a word… You crushed it, Bro!” Rick Beresford (major Nashville songwriter/producer of my first 2 CDs).
“Powerful work !! Great songs !!”….Peter Rowan (my producer / co-writer for many years)
“Rex will take you away with his superb sensitive and evocative songs….” Herve Oudet (concert promoter – Paris, France)
“Tina & I are driving to a gig in East Texas, listening to the record. Her 1sttime, my 3rd. Just lovely, friend. Really cool. Poetic, flowing, organic but transcendent, too. So happy you’ve got a new project in the world. It will have a long, sweet ride. “ Walt Wilkins (producer / performing songwriter / A Texas treasure)
“Great album” Michael Hearne (singer/songwriter/guitar whiz)
“Where can I get Rex’s CD?” Bob Dylan (singer/songwriter)
Soooooooo….we are all jazzed and so excited to get it out to all the friends…..(you, if you are reading this ?).
Thank you from the bottom of my HEART.
Rex and the dream band.