We arrived at Watershed recording studio at about 9:15am Monday morning. What a beautiful studio, and a fantastic team of musicians, engineer, and producer. Producer Dennis Dearing assembled a team that included Scott Williamson on drums, Mark Burchfield on Bass (also the owner of the studio), Tom Hemby on guitars, and engineer Bret Teegarden. Between these guys they have played alongside Lady Antebellum, Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, Blake Shelton, Mandisa, Faith Hill and now Simone Weber =).
I enjoy playing and singing music in multiple environments, with varying levels of talent around me. The day I spent in the studio with these guys will go down as one of great enjoyment of the craft of music. They are studio musicians, so that was simply another day at the office for them, for me it was incredibly enjoyable to hear their stories of the music scene in Nashville, hear their expertise on their instruments, and play along on songs that I have written.
The studio was set up in sections. I was in the sound proof piano room, with a beautiful grand piano. Tom, the guitar player was in the sound proof guitar room with his 18 guitars (That might be a slight exaggeration, Matt might remember how many he actually had), and the drummer and bass player were set up in the same room. To start each song they would gather around the piano to hear one run through of me playing and singing the song we were about to record, they would talk amongst themselves about what to put where musically and rhythmically, and how to shape the song, with Dennis’ direction of course. And then Scott, the drummer, would count us off and we would play/sing it through one time. After that time, we would play about one more time altogether, and then usually the drummer was done unless he wanted to add an auxiliary instrument. The bass player would fix a thing or two, the guitar player would add another layer of guitar with a different guitar, or add another part here or there, and they’d have me play one or two more times on the piano, and we would be onto the next song.
The trickiest part of recording for me, even in this case where we are essentially playing as a band, but isolated in our own booths (listening on headphones to each other) is playing with a click track. When playing live, the group plays together speeding up and slowing down as a song dictates. However, in the studio, the click track rules the day. So once we capture the center of the tempo, that is the tempo, unless there is a ritardando at the end, in which case they cut the click track and you get to just play.
A couple high points of the day were hearing Dennis get super excited about the song “I wonder” (especially the part that has the 4 beat pause, before hitting the musical theme strong at the end) and the song “There will be air”. Also hearing one of the guys say “we don’t hear chords like these around here very much, usually we are playing I-IV-V, all day long”.
We shared the story of Table Grace and how that is the driving force in this project. Here are a couple of their reactions….
Scott, the drummer, said, “I am crazy about this concept that you guys have come up with and am dying to go to the restaurant. Excited to be a part of the project. “ “Really excited to be a part of the music that is being birthed out of the idea that God has laid on your heart. “ He spent about 3 years recently on the road with “Smitty” Michael W. Smith, so that was fun to hear about.
Mark Burchfield, the bass player said “It was great that you brought us in to help see this through to fruition. We get to be a part of this ministry. I want to keep up with Dennis on how it is going to build and support the ministry of Table Grace. “
A special thank you to all family, friends and community at Table Grace, Morning Star Lutheran Church, and in and around the great state of Nebraska! We couldn't be doing this without the support, generosity and prayers that you send our way. Peace and love to you all.