BY NATALIE THOMPSON – COORDINATOR OF OPERATIONS & STUDENT ENGAGEMENT
When it comes to recording music—to capturing a performance—the vibe is everything. I’m not just talking about the lighting or the fengshui of the room. I’m referring to the energy there. And on this particular day, it was perfect: everyone was there to make great music. With the coffee pot trickling in the background and the students assisting Joe Costa in setting up the mics: testing, checking, repositioning, finding the best sound in the room…the air was electric. I stood, coffee in hand, breathing in the creative energy and watching as our humble class room and workspace transformed into a [somewhat] full blown [professional] studio. Seasoned musicians came in, set up their instruments, tuned, warmed up and prepared just as they’ve done hundreds of thousands of times. Just as they’ve done the day before and will do again the next day.
First things first: we needed to chart the song for the musicians and engineer. Steve Mackey, our hired bass player and close friend to most everyone here, is a king at charting so he stepped forward to take the lead. He had Katie Pruitt, the artist, play her first song, stopping her only intermittently to catch up as he wrote out every chord in the Nashville Number System. As he did this, we gathered around to watch the process and Steve was kind enough to pause and explain why he was doing it this way or that. This took…oh, I don’t know, minutes! I think it would have taken me an hour!
Next was a run through or two with all of the musicians. (Now, keep in mind, these guys are playing this song for the very first time). Aside from the bassist and artist we’ve got Jimmy Wallace on the keys, Pete Abbott on drums, and of course our stellar producer Guthrie Trapp on electric guitar, supporting Katie on hers. An all-star band, to say the least. The first song was a dark bluesy number that seemed to echo from deep in your chest, knocking on the front door of your soul. It was one of those songs that you can’t help but close your eyes and sway along to Katie’s hypnotic, raspy tone. It was pure magic.
This class day was a glimpse of the “music industry behind closed doors” metaphor that we often elude to when we talk about our program here at Segue 61. This was a professional recording session, one of a thousand that happens everyday, that so many aspiring musicians and artists so desperately want to get in on. On that particular day, “Studio Day,” our students had the opportunity to not only learn how to run the studio for a professional session, but to go up to each musician, shake their hand, introduce themselves and strike up a conversation. If they end up seeing Jimmy or Steve or Katie out on the town playing a gig, they’ll be able to go up to them after the show and connect with them once more. That’s how it starts: It begins with looking someone in the eye, introducing yourself, and making a connection centered around something you’re both passionate about: music.
Segue 61 offers such a unique and unprecedented opportunity for genuine relationship building, not only with your peers, but with some of the most sought after and prominent musicians and professionals in the industry. In one month alone, our students will have had the chance to meet several professional session and touring musicians, current artists and songwriters, prominent leaders from performance right’s organizations, a president of well known publishing company, and the president of an independent record label.
It’s not about who you are, it’s about who you know. Meeting the people in the industry who sign artists, hire musicians, publish writers, etc., is half the battle and we’re bringing them in to meet YOU. Will you be ready to meet them?