Old friend and regular Ardent client Devon Allman took over Studio C this January with Honeytribe, converting the studio into what he’s calling “The Mothership.” Purple christmas lights adorned the walls, storm trooper posters were placed here and there, and as you can see from the picture above, Devon and the guys had space suits. And yes, those are real NASA spacesuits.
All of this was of course to get into the spirit of the new project they were recording – an album called Space Age Blues, which is now finished and due out June 1st of this year. The album was completely tracked and mixed here, with Pete Matthews and Allman co-producing and Matthews engineering & mixing. Devon played all guitars/sang all vocals, with George Potsos on bass and Gabriel Strange on drums. Ron Holloway (sax), Tony Antonelli (percussion), Rick Steff (keys), Bobby Yang (strings), and Huey Lewis (harmonica) filled in the gaps. Yes – that Huey Lewis.
Lewis was in Studio A with The News, tracking what will amount to be their first studio album since 2001′s Plan B. He caught a snippet of what was happening in Studio C and himself asked if he could lay down some harp on the record. This is not the first time Ardent has seen this kind of creative cross-pollination, but it’s certainly one of the most significant.
Devon and the boys moved to Studio B to mix and have since finished after spending a total of 6 weeks within the walls of Ardent. Keep an eye out for the release in June, or take a look at Allman’s previous material on Amazon.com.
Above: Devon Allman with co-producer/engineer/mixer Pete Matthews. Photo by Nicole Robbins. Below: Huey Lewis blows some harp on Devon’s new record, Space Age Blues. In the Mothership.
South Carolina rockers Leslie recently finished tracking additional songs for their first full length release with producer/engineer Paul Ebersold. After driving from Charleston to Nashville to play some shows, the band made their way to Ardent and began digging in.
The band consists of Sadler Vaden on guitar and vocals, Jason Fox on bass, and Jonathan Carman on drums. They are certainly active – having played more than 250 shows last year, this is a band that knows what it’s like to put in the work being on the road. And tragically, this is also a band that has also seen hardship. Vaden’s mother died from her battle with breast cancer on his 21st birthday, after he had lost his father a few short years beforehand. It was her wish for the band to “continue making music on their own terms,” and never to give up on their dreams.
And give up they did not. In the following months Leslie made their way to Memphis and, living in a trailer park next to the Mississippi River, began work with producer Paul Ebersold on what would eventually become their first release. The Rebel Souls EP was born.
Ebersold met the band in December of 2007 when his management thought it would be a good match, and they were right. They started work in summer of 2008, taking their time in preproduction to write songs, cut demos, and be fully prepared for entering the studio when the time came. When the band and Ebersold had enough material to complete tracking on 8 new songs, they chose Ardent to cut the tracks.
They spent 6 days in Ardent’s Studio C this year, and they spent their time efficiently (Ebersold is a big proponent of being as prepared as possible upon entering the studio, so that the artist may concentrate on performance and nothing else). What resulted were the tracks that, along with two of the songs from the EP, will become their first full length release.
Sadler, Jason, Jon and Paul will return to the studio soon to mix the record. Keep an eye out for the band in your hometown, or keep up with them via their blog here.
The Rebel Souls EP is available on amazon.com.
We’re proud to announce that Keep an Eye on the Sky, the Big Star Boxed set, has won the 2011 GRAMMY award in the category of Best Album Notes! The award was presented during the pre-telecast portion of the awards on February 13th, 2011. Robert Gordon, whose liner notes were nominated, was not able to attend the awards, but Big Star drummer/Ardent Studios manager/Memphis chapter Trustee Jody Stephens was in attendance and accepted the award on his behalf.
Other Memphis-related nominations include, but are not limited to:
Best Pop Instrumental Album: Kirk Whalum – Everything is Everything: The Music of Donny Hathaway
Best Male R&B Vocal Performance: Kirk Whalum & Musiq Soulchild – “We’re Still Friends”
Best Gospel Performance: Kirk Whalum & Lalah Hathaway – “He’s Been Just That Good”
Best Gospel Song: Jerry Peters & Kirk Whalum (performed by Kirk Whalum & Lalah Hathaway) – “It’s What I Do”
Best Americana Album: Mavis Staples – You Are Not Alone
Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package: Daniel Reiss & Klaus Voorman – Voorman & Friends: A Sideman’s Journey (Limited Collector’s Super Deluxe Box Set) (Partially tracked and mixed at Ardent Studios)
Winners are marked in bold. Read more GRAMMY nominations and winners at the official site – http://www.grammy.com/nominees
Keep an Eye on the Sky, the Big Star Boxed set that was released in September of last year, has been continually receiving positive reviews since day one. It has been included on so many best-of 2009 lists that we decided to round up all of these mentions in one place to share. They are, in no particular order:
Magnet Magazine (#1 Best Of Collections)
MOJO Magazine (#4 Best Of Reissues)
BLURT Magazine (Writers Best Of Reissues/Archival)
UNCUT Magazine (#2 Best Of Box Sets & Compilations – see clipping below)
Other notable mentions (blogs, online magazines, etc)
Aquarium Drunkard (Year In Review)
Peter Rojas MTV Blog (Faves Of 2009)
PopMatters.com (#5 Best Of Reissues)
Chunklet (#1 Best Of Reissues)
No Depression (#5 Best Of Reissues)
WFMU Blog (#2 Best Of Reissues)
The Agit Reader (#2 Best Of Reissues)
Gibson.com (#5 Best Of Box Sets)
Commercial Appeal (#1 Best Of Records)
GoAndDoMichigan.com (#2 Best Of Box Sets)
musicradar.com (#12 Best Of Box Sets)
theRockandRollReport.com (#2 Best Of Reissues)
GloriousNoise.com (Best Of Archival)
BaltimoreMagazine.net (Best Music of 2009)
The boxed set is available right now on Amazon.com.
Readers of this blog may remember a post from June of last year giving a bit of history on The Scruffs, detailing their iterations and history from their debut record Wanna Meet the Scruffs? (recorded at Ardent in 1977) and leading up through the present day. The Scruffs latest release, entitled Conquest, was flushed out and mixed here at Ardent Studios by engineer Adam Hill. The record has been receiving some great reviews as of late:
“As Memphians obsessed with anglophile pop, they were Big Star’s heirs. Alex Chilton’s comrades, and recorded at Ardent Studios. On Conquest… the band’s new album, head Scruff Stephen Burns still brings the hooks, only filtered through a cavernous, textured sound awash in strings, horns, steel guitars, and keyboards. From the rolling anthemry of the gleaming ‘Treasure Girls’ to ‘Demon Mine’ – shades of Nikki Sudden – Conquest is modern pop with depth and heart.” Luke Torn, Uncut Magazine
“From the initial surge of ‘Conquer Me’ and the robust strains of ‘Curse of the Mau Mau’ to the drive and jangle of ‘All the Pharaohs’ and the rollicking ‘Land of Trance,’ it suggests an album for the ages…” – Lee Zimmerman, blurt-online.com