Steam Powered Studio
music catalogue

About the Studio
October 29, 2011

John Kelly Tryin

Here's some good stuff. John is an example of (maybe a model for) what I believe most strongly about making music. I've known him for a long time. As far as I know he never made the trip to Cali or lived out of a van touring coffeehouses, but music has always been a major part of his life.

John's best songs stick. I can usually remember exactly when and where I first heard them, and that's over the course of something like 40 years. Here he's committed a bunch of them to the permanent record.

My favorite part is reading the descriptions (on his website) of where and how he came to write these songs. They tell what it's like to be a musician and a songwriter. It isn't the way publicists spin it, the "discovery" of a great new talent, and it isn't about the rapid rise (and equally rapid fall) of the next sensation. It's a long, winding journey to something better and more lasting, a road to an unknown destination, filled with rewarding moments along the way.

Now, it suddenly occurs to me to make some sort of comparison between the young man in the video below this post and the "old" guy above releasing his first CD, but all I can think of is that they have a lot more in common than they have not in common. I hope Jordy has as much fun with it as John has had over the years, and if he does I hope to be around in 40 years to hear what he's doing then!

October 25, 2011

Jordy rocks

Jordon Rast is releasing a bunch of videos in support of his latest work- he was that squeaky-voiced kid in the Old Time Liberation Front. Thank goodness he's grown out of that! A pretty good song and video here, with help from Scott Bookman.

Now we've heard from Maya and Jordy... what's that Monica been up to? I've been listening to her Different From the War, and with the "end" of our involvement in Iraq, maybe thia is a good time to feature it. I hope to hear more from her and the other "Liberators"...

I'm a little out of practice with the posting here- the studio is moving and there are a lot of things to take care of to make that happen. Now would be a good time to sponsor us, if you know what I mean...

Anyway, tomorrow night it's the Sporting Hill Ramblers (I think) at McCleary's Pub in Marietta. Our first time back since the flood.

October 14, 2011


Working on a recording of a song called You Got a Chance and I had all these layers of acoustic guitars, just strumming acoustic guitars. It wasn't working. Then I realised that all I needed was one guitar. One Les Paul through one Marshall.

What's amazing about these things is that wherever you set the controls the sound will remind you of some great song you've heard. They're very inspirational amps.

They're tricky to mic though. Mic placement is crucial. I got a used set of isolating headphones from a guy who had been using them for ghost-busting, and with those things on it's a lot easier to find the sweet spot in front of the cabinet.

October 08, 2011


I borrowed these guys for a little fun. They are Schoeps CCM4's, microphones that seem to be very popular among tapers, those folks who put pairs of these up on poles at concerts.

Are they worth the couple of grand each that they cost? Well, in trying to make a clean recording with them in my basement, I had to stop several times because of the extraneous noises they were picking up- chair creaks, water running, phones ringing- they seem to be sensitive to everything.

You can judge for yourselves how they work here... me playing my song Mad Romance. These were about nine inches apart and about four feet in front of where I was playing. This is the raw recording. No compression, no equalization, not nothing. At the end you can hear the background noise in the studio- sort of a low hum while the guitar fades out. Pretty sweet!

October 02, 2011


It's easy to make drummers happy with recordings of their drums. Most modern recordings of drums have compressed, gated, dampened and equalized all the life out of 'em.

Most modern recordings of drums carefully mic each drum and then "gate" it electronically so it doesn't pick up other drums. Until the gate opens, at which time all the sound in the room gets played along to the envelope of the gate. It sounds artificial.

I prefer using the Glyn Johns method, which involves as few as three (or even two!) microphones on the drum set. Every drum rings true. If there is a problem somewhere, the drums are tuned or damped to solve it. They end up sounding great.

Corey left here very happy with the recording we made of his playing for the Summer Thieves. There's a mic at snare top level right in the middle of this picture, about 5 feet away from the snare. There's a mic over Corey's head pointing down at a spot between the snare and the mounted toms. There's a mic on the top head of the snare, a mic in the kick drum, and- just because I had the free channel- a close mic between two mounted toms- there on the left. Corey's setup made this sound good, mainly because he likes to keep his cymbals low. They can sometimes wash out everything else in a small room when they are up high...

featured song
Featured Song


rants 'n repairs