The kids did some recording years ago…the first time when Haley was six. We met a man, Frank Gorgo, who had a local recording studio. He was impressed with the kids' musical abilities and offered to record them mostly to give them the experience of being in a studio and to teach them to arrange their music. They sold those CDs at gigs to raise money for Ireland trips.
This will be their first "real" CD project where their music will be professionally recorded, mixed, and mastered by a producer, John Whelan.
The following is a journal of their recording experiences...
Last year John suggested he'd like to record Haley but Haley (and I) thought it would be best to wait until she was big enough for a full size fiddle so she'd get the best sound she could.
So, we waited.
It took a number of months of shopping and trial of hundreds of fiddles but Haley found a fiddle she loves. We then discussed the possibility of recording with her fiddle teacher, Brian, who gave his blessing and began seriously discussing the project with John. John gave us an idea of costs and the work we'd need to do.
There is so much to do for a CD…other musicians to speak to about helping out, a couple people to request to write liner notes, recording sessions to plan, photographs to take and chose from, artwork to plan, a graphic designer to find, tunes to go through, sets to figure out and research, and a title to come up with.
One of our first projects was photography. Haley and I met Matt Ferrara through Studio2Stage and loved his work so I contacted him about photographing the kids' for their CD. When we traveled to Boston in November, we took a day and drove to Providence, RI. It was a freezing cold, windy day but we spent a few hours walking around Providence with Matt photographing the kids. We took over a local pub for an hour and the pub owner asked Matt to take some pictures of his recently remodeled pub as well. The photos Matt took were great! When he sent them a week later, the kids and I spent hours going through picking our favorites. We also sent them to our friends, the Kellys, for their input. (The funny thing is we all had the same photos as our favorites.) We spent some time playing with different combinations of photos for the CD cover and researched templates and prices for finished and printed CDs.
There are so many tunes Haley loves to play so narrowing down her choices to an hour's worth of tune sets took time. Haley and I went through her lists of tunes and she wrote down all those she might want to record. She spent hours figuring out which ones would fit together in sets she liked. In the meantime, she learned more tunes at lessons and added a few of those to her list as well. Eventually she had a list of fifteen sets to work with. She and Dylan began practicing nearly every day together working out the accompaniment and Haley's variations. She and I researched the tunes on the internet as best we could to come up with their proper names and composers so we'd know which were traditional and which were more modern and not public domain.
November 21, 2014- The kids' first recording session did not go exactly as planned. On our way home from Boston in November we spent the weekend in Milford, CT at John's studio. On Friday night the kids and John discussed some of their plans for the next day, we ate dinner, set up a few of the files on the computer, and they all played some tunes together. Saturday morning we arrived early. Originally they attempted to record at the same time playing together but with Haley and Dylan in different rooms. There was some bleed through with the mics picking up the other instrument and timing was difficult so John decided to record Haley first then record Dylan's accompaniment with Haley's track. Then the technical difficulties began…computer issues, click track difficulties, etc… They worked for hours and hours. They finished recording two tracks but it was late when they worked on the second track so it was not their best work.
December 26, 2014- For the second recording session, John came to our house the weekend after Christmas. John arrived around 11am and he and Dylan unloaded equipment and got everything set up in our basement. They worked Friday afternoon until time to eat and change for the Wren Party Friday night. They began again on Saturday morning at 9:30am and worked all day and most of the night Saturday. Dylan added accompaniment to the track Haley recorded Friday afternoon and added guitar and bouzouki then he went to work in the afternoon while Haley recorded four more tracks. When Dylan got home from work, he recorded accompaniment most of the night. They finished six tracks including re-recording the one they had done late at night the first session.
January 3, 2014- Trying to fit in another recording session during a very busy month, we drove up to Connecticut in the fog, rain, then traffic and snow after a day of Trio and Sligo Six rehearsals to arrive at the studio at 6:30pm. The kids and John set up and got to work while I walked next door for pizza so they could have supper then set about on the internet finding a hotel for the night since the weather was too bad to drive back and forth to White Plains. Haley's fiddle teacher, Brian Conway, arrived around 7:30pm and together, she and Brian laid down the tracks for their hornpipe duet for the CD. Haley picked a couple tricky hornpipes to play with Brian but they only took five full takes before they were satisfied. We got some photos then Brian left at 10pm. Haley re-recorded a track John wasn't satisfied with from their last session and Dylan tracked his guitar over both those sets.
The roads were a bit slick so we spent the night in a hotel in Milford rather than drive to White Plains for the night. We had a couple extra hours of sleep and the kids and John were back to work by 9:30am. They worked all day until 3:15pm when John had to leave to get to a session at The Playwright in New Haven. Haley and Dylan decided they wanted to join him at the session before we drove the three hours home because more than five hours of constant playing of Irish music was not enough for them. A couple hours later we were headed home in nasty weather but no traffic.
In between recording sessions, Haley and Dylan rehearsed daily, Haley changed her mind on one set a couple times eventually deciding to record one more slow air after a gig the night before the recording when she was asked to play her All Ireland winning air and afterward a large number of people suggested she record it, and she and I researched tune names and composers. Our photographer, Matt Ferrara agreed to do the artwork for the CD cover which took a huge load off my mind. He and I sent a few emails back and forth with ideas and he began working on the cover. Haley and I also secured someone to write liner notes for her.
February 9, 2015- John drove down to us late last night so he would be ready to record all day. He and Haley got up early and I cooked some breakfast while Haley practiced her classical music then they went down into the basement to set up the equipment and start recording around 9:30am. Haley had three sets left to record for the CD: a set of hornpipes, a set of reels, and an air. She worked about an hour on each and by 12:30pm, she had all her tracks laid. Haley and I made some lunch and then I took her to her violin lesson while Dylan and John headed back into the basement. Dylan worked the rest of the afternoon and late into the night laying down tracks for six sets to finish up their part of the recording.
Now all Haley and Dylan's recording is completed. They asked John to lay down some accordion on one set and another guitarist will back Haley's slow air. Then all that is left is mixing, mastering, and completion of the package artwork. Hopefully the CD will be ready for release in March!