Greetings friends and music lovers!
I recently had the opportunity to experience something that most only hear stories about: a Nashville studio “demo” recording session. These are legendary sessions in which a group of Nashville professional musicians gets together in a studio to record and produce a new demo/song that may end up being recorded and performed by one of your favorite musical artists; it is true musical mastery at its finest.
Unfortunately for the majority of music lovers, these sessions aren’t open to the public where one can just walk in and watch; that is until now thanks to the team at Imagine Recordings. They truly deliver a one of a kind behind the scenes ‘see it/hear it’ experience of what happens during a Nashville recording session, and they do it all inside the renown Sound Stage Studios located about a block away from our office in Nashville's famous Music Row district.
The Imagine Recordings' viewable demo sessions are group events that begin with all attendees gathered together in a room, given highlights about the studio’s history sharing what artists have recorded there… all followed by a short audio compilation played consisting of songs that were recorded right there in the very same Sound Stage studio. This introduction provides interesting information and context for the session that is about to happen… you definitely feel that you’re in a place where magic has been created!
After the brief intro, you get to meet that day's featured musical artist(s) who tell you a little about themselves and the song they are about to record. The artists who recorded for our particular session were members of a Folk/Americana duo called ‘Carolina Story’; while I had not heard of them before, by the end of the session I had become a fan. Every session features a different artist.
If you haven’t heard of Carolina Story, I suggest visiting the band’s website or social media to learn more about them, and of course, it goes without saying that listening to their music will give you a full appreciation of who they are.
I don’t like to describe an artist or act by making comparisons with other artists, like saying ‘they sound like so and so’ or ‘they’re a mix between this artist and that artist’, as I’d like to be able to do them justice on their own merit. I can best describe Carolina Story by saying that there’s a gorgeous sort of melancholy hopefulness in their sound, coupled with a sincere and down to earth vibe in their lyrics.
The Imagine Recording session was a perfect way for me to experience this duo. I like seeing an artist stripped of any slick studio production and marketing hype, with no concert audience to kick in the adrenaline and give the performer energy to feed off of. This was an opportunity to get the up close and personal, the sharing of the heart and soul of the artists. If it’s not painfully obvious, I eat this type of stuff up.
After our introduction to the band, they go together into another room where their instruments (and microphones) are, and they are very quickly set up and ready to record.
Let me interject here that the atmosphere is loose, casual, and fun, and the cool part is that you don’t have to stay seated where you’re at. You can go in and actually sit with the musician’s in the same room as they perform, or you can sit in the control room (my favorite spot) and get a glimpse from the ‘Captian’s chair’ where you can listen to the conversation between artist and producer between takes.
Once the band is in place, they start playing and recording their song. They may ‘run through’ the song several times until they get the best take- or best-recorded version of the song.
And I am sort of struggling with this part of the post because I have a hard time with words describing what happens in that room of musicians. You have all these fantastic talents, who by the way, may have never even met prior to today, start playing a song they’ve never played before and it comes together like they’ve played it dozens of times before this. You truly have to be there to appreciate it, as you’re witnessing cream of the crop players creating something new in real time. It’s beautiful.
After the artists and producer agree that they’ve recorded the best version of the new song, everyone gathers in the control room to listen to the final musical track together (don’t worry, there’s plenty of room). As you listen you may get to hear a bit of commentary or personal reflection about the recording from the artists and producer. After that, they open it up to a Q & A with the artists, producer, and there is an opportunity to take photos with the artists.
Oh, and I can’t forget to mention, in addition to recording their original song, the artist records a cover song that gets emailed to you as a ‘Sonic Souvenir’ (I just made that term up), at the end of the session. What a cool idea, it’s like having your very own high-quality, bootleg recording to add to your favorite playlist!
After that, the session is over and you get to walk away with a true appreciation of what a Nashville recording session is, and of course, you’ll appreciate the work that the peeps over at Imagine Recordings have put into making this happen.
I do have to say, coming from a previous life in the music industry (and a love of everything music), this session was a welcome treat, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that there were one or two moments where I started feeling a bit sentimental, longing for the times when I’d spend my days inside of a recording studio creating magic with friends and fellow musicians. Good times for sure.
For the aspiring or beginning songwriter or musician, I’d consider this event a required ‘crash course’ on how the recording session works in Nashville.
If you’re a music lover visiting Nashville (or even if you live here-like me), the Imagine Recordings experience is a family friendly event you don’t want to miss, as it captures a behind the scene element that is part of the Nashville music culture, and has contributed to making Nashville what it is today
If you’re a seasoned music vet, I’d say there’s still something in this for you. Though nothing in the process may be new to you, being in the presence of such seasoned musicians is always a chance to learn something you didn’t know. You’ll get to peek at their gear, observe their technique and witness up close the person behind the instrument or voice. And you may even make some new friends along the way.
If you can carve less than 90 minutes out of your day, this is worth adding to your Saturday afternoon calendar. Please note, this is a seasonal event, so do check the Imagine Recordings website for details.
And lastly, I do want to mention that Carolina Story has a new album coming out in July, followed by a tour. If they come to your town, I suggest going to the show, they have cool tunes and their two-part harmonies are pretty fantastic.
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If you have an idea for a subject you want me to cover, or if you have a question you’d like me to answer, call or text me at 909-331-6452, or email me at Tony@ChordRealEstate.com