In September, 2015 after a gig at a BAY VIEW BOAT CLUB in San Francisco, a private club, pal Mike Dingle who sponsored the event, stuck a classical nylon string guitar in my hand, encouraging me to play it. He had bought it at a thrift shop for $40. It sounded beautiful, played beautifully, and it possessed a great "feel" to it. I had long loved classical guitar music and Flamenco music and had longed for the longest time to acquire such a guitar for myself.
I started obsessing about acquiring one and recording some of my unrecorded tunes with Laurie Amat, a fantastic singer who works on my recording projects. I found a cheap $60 nylon string guitar at a local music store and snagged it immediately. It was the cheapest one in the store and only one I could afford. Around this time Laurie made me aware that she'd be in San Francisco for a week, on a gig tour from her home base in Provincetown, Rhode Island. I rarely get to see or work with Laurie. She possesses the most amazing singing voice and incredible technical vocal skills from a lifetime of study of the art and craft of it. I asked her if she could come up to Santa Rosa for an afternoon to record several tunes that had been eating wormholes in my head for years. She agreed to come up on October 20th.
We'd record at Don Campau's Lonely Whistle Studio--essentially some recording equipment set up in his garage at home.
I prepared music lead sheets and lyrics sheets for Laurie, honing them in my spare hours on my days off and after work. Then I emailed them as attachments to her for her to study. Laurie appeared on October 20th, we drove over to Don's home studio in the Bennett Valley section of Santa Rosa, and spent the afternoon recording the works. I insisted that both the guitar and Laurie's vocals be recorded in real stereo with 2 mics. A stereo image, even on a single sound source, provides a much richer recording, a spatial ambiance and a warmth missing when sound sources are recorded in mono.
We recorded my guitar tracks first, then Laurie recorded her parts to them. She invented all the vocal parts, harmonies, and ideas in the vocal arrangements. She worked off the melodies I provided in the lead sheets and the words from my lyrics sheets.
We had no rehearsal time, we simply knocked this out in several hours on that afternoon. My guitar parts were simple. I heard these tunes in my head for years. Laurie is a consummate professional, an imaginative singer with a quick mind. She simply fleshed out her parts from my basic ideas. A couple of times I tried humming the melody to her based on the lead sheets
I had written, but she quickly shushed me up because it distracted her concentration and the sound of the music as she was hearing it in her head. I always let her work how she sees fit because her vocal ideas are much more fantastic than anything I could ever hope to contrive.
Three of the tunes are admittedly very short. I simply wanted to HEAR them, get them out of my head, playing a basic verse-chorus-verse-chorus. I am not recording an album, had very limited time and money, and I was seeking to impress no one. I wanted to hear my songs in the real world for once rather then spinning endlessly in my head.
The next day I returned back to Don's studio alone and dubbed in simple percussion and bass on THE GOOD TIMES ARE OVER and bass and fuzz guitar on SPANISH SUNSET EXDOCRIUS REDUX. I am not 100% satisfied with my dubbed parts on the latter tune. I hope to dub improved versions of them at some future time. In the interim, longtime UGLY JANITORS OF AMERICA bassist Jack Vees--established composer, music faculty member at Yale University, and author of THE BOOK ON BASS HARMONICS--provided bass parts for the tunes via file sharing on email.
At some point I will complete the final touches on these tracks, but I really enjoy the results as they sound now.
The purpose of recording these tunes was:
(A) To HAVE FUN
(B) To take advantage of Laurie Amat's terrifying vocal
skills for the brief time she was in the area
(C) Excrete song ideas that have run ruts in my mind for years, driving me crazy.
Once I record my songs, I no longer hear them in my head, and new songs supersede them to continue to drive me crazy. I strongly regret not possessing the time and resources to more frequently record my multitude of song ideas. This is the terrible struggle of my life--somehow getting all this music out of my head before I am dead while I am continually enervated and depleted from my full-time workaday job routine.
released October 21, 2015
LAURIE AMAT/JOHN TRUBEE
1 One Drop of Rain
2 Man of Action
3 Spanish Sunset Exdocrius Redux
4 The Good Times Are Over
Vocals and vocal arrangements by Laurie Amat
Guitars and percussion by John Trubee
Engineered by Don Campau
Recorded October 20 and 21, 2015
Lonely Whistle Studio
Santa Rosa, California, USA
Produced by John Trubee
All songs composed by John Trubee
ESCAPE FROM THE EVIL DWARVES, BMI
Copyright © 2015 John Trubee
PO Box 4921
Santa Rosa, CA 95402 USA
all rights reserved