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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Food and practice

According to Nik Tjelios, our masterful project engineer, good food makes for good recording. So Jane and her mother Janet have been cooking up a storm all day! First they dug through the bins of veggies from last summer’s garden and whipped up a giant, spicy carrot/coconut soup. Then it was on to sushi rolls, a veggie casserole, brownies, and a host of other goodies. The last time I recorded, all I ate was mixed nuts and chocolate chips. Thanks a million, Janet!

As the aroma of good food wafted through the house, I was able to sit by myself and focus on the songs. I gradually shifted my awareness from a “playing” perspective to a “listening” perspective, and began to notice all the little sections that needed attention: parts where I leave a solo and forget to breathe deeply enough to get the first line; parts where I make unnecessary noise with the slide because I’m thinking about the intonation; parts where I’m a little flat because my back isn’t straight.

Then, with self-compassion and genuine curiosity, I allowed the field of my awareness to broaden, and with each pass, the rough bits started to sort themselves out. By the time I was done, the songs were sitting much better and the prospect of recording was starting to feel even more fun that I originally thought!

At 3:30 pm, Paul Wall swung by from Kitchener to tune our 40’s Nordheimer piano for our first session. He tunes the grand pianos at the River Run Centre in Guelph and The Centre In the Square in Kitchener. He does a masterful job—and he’s a sweet guy, too.

At around 5:30 pm, Tannis Slimmon arrived for a vocal rehearsal. I’m so lucky to have her angelic voice and spirit with us on this project. Jane took a break from the kitchen and we sat in the living room (soon to be a recording studio!) and worked through the harmonies on a number of songs.

Then at 8:00 pm, Jeff Daniels dropped by to sort out the piano arrangements for the tunes he’ll be playing on. He plays with Jesse and Adam for jazz gigs around town, and has a good feel for different styles. We ran though “We Want Peace,” and “Sinner’s Child,” and he got the gospel/soul voicings down pat.

At around 9:30 pm, Jane and I composed a final harmony part for our slow, melodic version of “Oh Susannah.” When she finally sang it, I got the shivers!

And now it’s time for bed . . .

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