Our friends at Visible Music College have come quite a distance during their eleven years in existence. Starting as a modest 21 student, 9 month course and expanding to a 4 year program with accreditation, it’s been a journey that we’ve been proud to be a part of. With the new location downtown and more students than ever, we hope to do everything we can to help Visible students in their coming journeys.
Ardent recently teamed up with Visible to offer a week of studio time as a prize for the winner of their alumni songwriting competition. Erik Smallwood of the class of 2002 walked away with the prize, with a smile on his face and songs ready to go.
Ecstatic to be recording at Ardent, Erik had much to say of his time in the studio: “Just to be in the same room, same building as some of the people who have graced this place is amazing.” His singer/songwriter style is stacked with sweet and soulful sounds, and his songs got the treatment they deserve here at Ardent.
Visible School teacher and producer Kirk Smith was kind enough to spearhead the sessions, making efficient work of a week in Studio A. Relating to the success of Visible, Kirk said “the relationship with Ardent has been key for [Visible’s] audio production department.” Using many of Ardent’s tried and true pieces of equipment, he was able to help craft Erik’s music into beautifully succinct pieces.
It was the first time Erik had the opportunity to work with Kirk and he was more than satisfied with the result. “Kirk and I are on the same page… He seemed to have the same idea I do on where these songs are headed.” You’ll hear more than just the hovering hand of production from Kirk, who also added piano and rhodes on selected tracks. Kirk wasn’t the only musician to have graced the sessions; Drummer Matt Fritzler and singer Sara Jo also were featured in the songs recorded, adding style and heart to music that is already overflowing with emotion and character.
The time at Ardent was spent well, having Erik lay down three gorgeously arranged tracks to show off his talent and the capabilities of studio. To keep up with all things Erik Smallwood, head over to his website at Eriksmallwood.com. And don’t forget to look into who gave Erik the opportunity to have the time over at Visible.edu.
Local rockers The Sheriffs of Nottingham finished mixing their new 6-track release at Ardent over this past weekend, bringing together a year-long labor of love.
“It’s taken us a long time just because of our crazy schedules, but the time between sessions has really helped us focus in on what we wanted,” says guitarist Kevin Lipe.
The 6-track album bursts at the seams with a hard rock style riding on Southern blues waves, satisfying listeners that need something both heavy and full of heart. Hard power chords laid under soulful singing, interspersed with ripping guitar solos and thick choruses, make the Sheriffs’ itinerary a force not to be missed.
Engineers Mike Wilson and Jason Gillespie worked together on the recording process, with Mike putting in the final leg of effort on the mixes. ”Mike and Jason were great!” drummer Kyle Fagala remarks. “We’d always wanted to work at Ardent, and meeting [Mike and Jason] was perfect. They were both easy to work with and helped us get our sound where we wanted it.”
Having the record done at Ardent is something the Sheriffs have wanted for some time, and their excitement was evident ”From the minute we got in there, we fell in love with the whole place!” bassist Curry Smith exclaims. ‘
Satisfied with the final product, their next step is getting the CD’s pressed and distributed. Be sure to hit up ardentstudios.com for full details on the upcoming release.
Ardent Studios is proud to announce the complete renovation of Studio C! In conjunction with the 45th anniversary of the studio, we’re in the process of upgrading just about everything in the control room – new console, new acoustics, new aesthetics, and much more. You can keep up to date with the changes to Studio C by visiting thenewstudioc.com. Meanwhile, read more in our official press release below:
Ardent in Memphis Guts Famed Studio C for New SSL Install
“Appetite for Construction” Celebrates 45th Anniversary of Venerable Studio
Pictured at Ardent Studios in the shell of the new Studio C control room are (L-R) chief technical engineer Chris Jackson, founder John Fry, and studio manager/Big Star drummer Jody Stephens.
Memphis, TN, August, 2011 – As an integral part of its 45th Anniversary, Memphis’ venerated Ardent Studios is celebrating with an “Appetite for Construction” and completely gutting the control room of Studio C in preparation for the installation of an SSL Duality console. The studio’s prized workhorse Neve V 40 x 40 console has been decommissioned and will be reborn as a classic sidecar to accompany the state-of-the-art Duality, giving Ardent the best of both vintage and new.
“It was time to bring Studio C into the highly competitive 21st Century world of recording,” stated Ardent founder and the studio’s first engineer John Fry. ”This room has a legacy that includes landmark work by Bob Dylan, ZZ Top, 3 Doors Down, R.E.M.,and B.B. King, among so many other great artists, and we are keeping that traditional acoustic tracking space alongside our new control room with SSL’s flagship console.”
Adjacent to a 32′ x 26′ tracking room with three isolation booths, Studio C’s control room will house an SSL Duality SE 48-channel console with in-board patchbay (RHS). Also, the SSL I/O package consists of one Delta Link HD-MADI unit and two Alpha Link converter units for a total of 48 analog I/Os. With consoles in place worldwide, Duality has established a new industry standard for professional audio production.
Chief technical engineer Chris Jackson decommissions the Neve V 40×40 console in Studio C control room.
Ardent Studios started off with early classics by Sam & Dave, Led Zeppelin, Al Green and The Staple Singers, then racked up hits in the 70s and 80s by ZZ Top, REM, George Thorogood, The Allman Brothers, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Ardent continues today with recent triumphs by such artists as Sir Cliff Richard, Jack White, Huey Lewis and the News, Smashing Pumpkins, Montgomery Gentry, and Klaus Voorman. Of significant note is John Hiatt’s “Master of Disaster,” produced by the late Jim Dickinson in the studio he embraced for over 30 years.
The Solid State Logic Duality’s innovative hybrid approach combines a traditional analog path and signal processing along with exceptional DAW control, all within a single hardware surface. Duality has a diverse user base that includes many of the world’s most prestigious commercial recording facilities, on-air broadcast production studios, educational establishments, film & TV score specialists and a growing group of notable private owners.
John Fry cites several reasons for Ardent’s longevity in a recording world that has few survivors from the early days. ”We’re flexible and we’ve always strived to adapt to the changes in the technology and recording industry. We’ve also been fortunate to have so much talent on our staff, and long term relationships with successful artists and producers. Also, having a production company, a record label, and a publishing business has allowed us to be one of our own best clients. We expect our new Studio C will be a perfect fit for our continued momentum.”
To learn more about Ardent’s new Studio C, visit: http://www.thenewstudioc.com
For information about Ardent Studios, visit: http://www.ardentstudios.com
Paul Mac Bonvin – a restaurateur, vineyard owner and rock and roller who lives in Switzerland – had a dream to track a record in Memphis at the legendary Sun Studios. Having Jerry Lee Lewis’ rhythm section as his backing band was part of the dream. Producer/engineer Jeff Powell was the man to make it all happen. From Jeff:
We cut all of the Sun tracks in two sessions. The second session involved the band driving straight to the studio after a gig with Jerry Lee at the Memphis in May Beale Street Music Festival. They had just played in front of thousands of people and they were on fire when they got to Sun. Most of them still had their stage clothes on, it was incredible.
The next day we moved to Ardent Studio A and did a handful of overdubs and started mixing. I used Ardent’s analog two track MCI to get the real tape slap sound and it sounded perfect for what we were going for. We dialed it in on every song. The Ardent chambers, plates, and tape slap are one of the main reasons I like to mix there. I didn’t use any digital effects or plugins on this record. Paul wanted to stay true to the old analog sound.
Paul Mac’s family joined in the recording process as well, with his daughter Priscilla singing harmonies and his son Nelson adding guitar. Other special guests included Albert Lee in London on guitar and vocals, Susan Marshall on vocals, and Charlie McCoy added harmonica here at Ardent. Lucas Peterson assisted here at Ardent.
In the picture, L to R: Charlie McCoy, John Fry, Paul Mac Bonvin, his son Nelson, engineer Jeff Powell, and assistant Lucas Peterson.
Ardent Music’s newest release is a 7-inch 33-1/3 rmp vinyl, produced to give people a little peak into the special night that was the Big Star tribute to Alex Chilton that took place in Memphis on the night of May 15, 2010 at the historic Levitt Shell.
Here’s a message from Big Star drummer Jody Stephens about this special item:
“For our last performance as Big Star, Jon, Ken and I had some very good friends join us to celebrate the music and lives of Alex, Andy and Chris on May 15, 2010. The performances really tell the story of what happened and how we all felt about that evening at Memphis’ Levitt Shell. The idea of trying to release the show in its entirety was overwhelming in the sense of time and effort needed for all performance clearances. So I thought, first artist first: John Davis was the first of many wonderful guest artists to join us on stage. He wailed on three songs: “In The Street,” “Don’t Lie To Me” and “When My Baby’s Beside Me.” These were just the right amount songs (and time) for an EP release. So with mastering engineer Larry Nix and Big Star’s engineer, John Fry, and our Neumann cutting lathe all residing in the Ardent Studios building how could we not cut vinyl?
“We hope to release more of the show down the road. Thank you.”
The first 1,000 vinyls come with a free digital download card for the entire album, in high quality mp3 format, ripped directly from the source vinyl. Stream tracks here, or click here to check it out on the Ardent Music store!
Memphis, TN (June 14, 2011)—UK pop legend Sir Cliff Richard recorded vocals for his new album, Soulicious, at Ardent Studios in Memphis.
Working with producer and Motown songwriter Lamont Dozier, Richard first tracked at nearby Royal Recording Studios with “Boo” Mitchell, son of the late Willie Mitchell. The album features a wealth of soul stars, including Deniece “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” Williams, Freda “Band of Gold” Payne and Billy “Me and Mrs. Jones” Paul.
Executive producer for Soulicious is David Gest, who organized last November’s “David Gest’s Soul Spectacular,” at the UK’s Southport Theatre and Convention Center. Featuring 18 of the world’s best selling R&B artists, the show was hailed as history’s largest gathering of soul greats on one night.
Cliff Richard’s new album includes a mix of soul classics and new songs penned by producer Lamont Dozier and his son Beau. Ardent’s Matt Martone served as ProTools engineer at Royal Recording and handled vocal recording at Ardent. Additional guest vocalists included Candi Staton, Percy Sledge, Russell Thomkins, Jr. and The New Stylistics.
Richard has sold over 260 million records in his enduring career. With his backing group The Shadows, Richard dominated the British popular music scene in the pre-Beatles period of the late 1950s and early 1960s. His 1958 hit single, “Move It,” is often described as Britain’s first authentic rock and roll song, and John Lennon once claimed that ”before Cliff and the Shadows, there had been nothing worth listening to in British music.”
The album’s producer, Lamont Dozier, was part of the legendary Motown production team of Holland-Dozier-Holland. A unifying force in the ’60s pop and R&B chart-dominance of the Detroit-based independent record label, the trio later formed Invictus and Hot Wax Records, and enjoyed continuing success with the Chairmen of the Board, Freda Payne, 100 Proof Aged in Soul, the Honey Cone, and 8th Day.
Story by Mr. Bonzai.
In the photo, L to R: Engineer Matt Martone, executive producer David Gest, Sir Cliff Richard, producer Lamont Dozier, and assistant Mike Wilson. Photo by Daniel J. Russo.
Our good friend and producer Jb Meijers just wrapped tracking on a new project with Dutch cabaret group Acda en De Munnik here in Ardent’s Studio A. Readers of this blog may remember him from his work with Dutch group The Souldiers here late last year. The group consists of Thomas Acda (guitar, vocals), Paul De Munnik (keys, vocals), Jb Meijers (keys, guitar), David Middelhoff (bass), and Dave van Beek (drums). They spent nine days tracking what will become their eighth studio release. Ardent’s Mike Wilson assisted on the project.
Below is a video of Acda en De Munnik performing their most popular song, called “Niet of Nooit Geweest.” Check out those harmonies!
Jb will return to Ardent with a new project soon, and we are happy to be a second home for him. Stay tuned for release details!
In the photo, L to R: Thomas Acda, Dave van Beek, David Middelhoff, Paul De Munnik, Jb Meijers; Mike Wilson in the foreground. Photo by Bob Bronshoff.
For Big Star fans and record collectors the world over, April 16 is going to be a big day. BIG. Aside from just being Record Store Day, it also marks the release of the newest Big Star reissue: The ultimate version of the mysterious, occasionally misunderstood, and almost always under-appreciated Third. Along with a Buck Owens 7″ (featuring early and unreleased recordings), this special edition of Third will be the inaugural release from Omnivore Recordings, and it’s a doozie. Take a look at this exploded view:
From Omnivore’s official press release:
Big Star Third [Test Pressing Edition] is a special edition vinyl release limited to 2,000 pieces worldwide. The album has been described as a lost record re-discovered years after it was recorded, one that has seen many track listings, titles and album covers. It’s been dubbed a classic, and an enigma. The Omnivore Recordings edition comes complete with replicas of the original tape box, tracking and lead sheets, mastering card and is pressed on 180 gram vinyl. The new pressing was cut from the original assembly reel, on the same lathe at the legendary Ardent Studios in Memphis and by the very same engineers who cut it the first time, Larry Nix and John Fry. Pressed on high quality vinyl at RTI, this is the definitive version of this album. In the limited run of 2,000, five copies of the original test pressings signed by Big Star’s Jody Stephens, original mastering engineers Larry Nix and Ardent’s John Fry will be available at retail, randomly, worldwide. Take a peek inside Larry Nix’s Mastering room at the legendary Ardent Studios in Memphis as Larry, John and Jody prepare the actual new master being used for the new “test pressing” edition on YouTube.
About Omnivore Recordings:
Founded in 2010 by long-time, highly respected industry veterans Cheryl Pawelski, Greg Allen, and Brad Rosenberger, Omnivore Recordings’ vision is to preserve the legacies and music created by historical, heritage and catalog artists while also releasing previously unissued, newly found “lost” recordings and making them available for music-loving audiences to discover. Distributed by EMI in North America and Ace Records UK in Europe, Omnivore Recording’s current artist projects include limited edition releases by Big Star and Buck Owens with future projects by Townes Van Zandt and Leon Russell to be announced soon.
Omnivore Recordings official website: http://omnivorerecordings.com/
Become a fan on Facebook: www.facebook.com/omnivorerecordings
Our favorite three piece powerhouse of rock, Troy, NY’s Super 400, had some kind words to say about their experience here at Ardent. Watch this video to see what they’ve been up to!
Help us celebrate Record Store Day as we discuss the resurgence of vinyl in today’s marketplace. Topics that will be covered include recording, mixing, and mastering for vinyl as well as using vinyl as a medium to push marketing. Our expert panelists will go through the production process from mastering to self-marketing and selling at the indie retail level.
SUBMIT YOUR VINYL RECORD FOR THE LISTENING SESSION WHEN YOU REGISTER!
Panelists to include:
John Fry – vinyl cutter, owner and founder at Ardent Studios
Larry Nix – mastering engineer and vinyl cutter at L. Nix Mastering
Scott Hull – mastering engineer and vinyl cutter at Masterdisk NYC
Eric Astor – vinyl manufacturing and distribution at Furnace Manufacturing
Jeff Powell – independent producer/engineer and vinyl cutter at Take Out Vinyl
Recording Academy Members: Complimentary admission
SPACE IS LIMITED. PLEASE RSVP HERE: