bat cave
Steam Powered Studio is an audio workshop in South-central PA,
featuring contributions from fine local artists.
Many of these projects have been funded by fine people like you!
The Stray Birds

The Borderland EP began as demos for Maya DeVitry to take with her to school. It grew into something special.

Listen to
I'm the guy with the hammer and tongs-

Jeff Coleman
Jeff Coleman

-trying to make stuff in the workshop.

Check me out on iTunes!
This started out when I got curious how many bands there were around here. Click the map below to see the amazing, growing list of locals.

local area

Then click through to visit their websites...
the Sporting Hill Ramblers

I feel privileged to be a member of the Sporting Hill Ramblers, purveyers of fine

News and schedule at the link.
Studio Blog
Dr. Mo was one of the first to contribute to this site.

Dr Mo

His latest project is a group of songs about the real America.

She came here with a song in her heart. It took a while, but we pried it loose.

Linzi wants to be
The Last Girl

Willie Marble

Willie Marble is back again, with Songs in the Key of Marble. He brought a lot of players and singers with him this time, including a full chorus!
Mr. Bobby and I started posting songs to the internet back when being folkie wasn't cool.

Robert Bobby

It's Not the Heat
that's gettin' to me...
July 30, 2013

Delving into those old tapes, I found, as I said, some ok versions of live stuff by the Blame. But if you're wondering what I mean when I say I don't have the really good stuff, here's a sample of the really good stuff I found, left over on the end of a tape which was used for something else. Oh, the humanity!

Psycho Killer, live portion

Now why don't I have the rest of that night on tape? Yes, dear friends, sometimes it really was as good as you remember it being...
July 29, 2013


I was digging through boxes of these the other day, looking for live recordings of the band the Blame, and I found one I didn't know existed before. It's the third set of an evening somewhere, probably the Back Room/Chameleon, and while it wasn't necessarily the best night we ever played, it wasn't the worst. I have a tape of one of those too, and it's painful to hear it because it was near the end and attitudes were bad. I'd much rather remember the best times, of which there are no recordings, because we didn't know they were the best times. Now my philosophy is record everything!.


You may notice that those tapes are all different grades of Maxell. Nobody cares now, but back in the day it really made a difference which brand, and which grade of that brand you bought. I found that of the consumer level tapes available locally, Maxell was the most consistant. (tapes used to be a big investment, something like $10 to $15 each, which, in dog years, is a lot) Weirdly, industry leader Scotch tapes always suffered from drop-outs and shedding. (It's OK if you don't know what the terms "drop-outs" and "shedding" mean- "epic fail" might be the term to use now)

Those Maxell tapes sure impress me- they sound good 32 years after they were recorded, and there's no obvious physical degradation. I have long been a Maxell fanboy because of this.

However, times change, and so do companies. I've been having trouble for the past year or so making back-ups using Maxell brand CD-Rs, which always used to work fine. I attributed this problem to aging CD burners, but maybe I should have considered the media. Today I tried some Sony blank disks, and so far their CD-Rs work just fine. Bastards at Maxell probably cheaped out their product- it's an old story...
July 26, 2013

I completed the soundtrack mix for Sand Dial this morning.
July 25, 2013

This is a banjo string.

banjo string

Here's a sample of what it sounds like-
banjo string demo
Could be the latest mystery sound!

I've got things all set up for producing the soundtrack for Sand Dial. I have 16 tracks of beach (and other) sounds on the Yami, and I'll be able to playback the video on the computer and mix to it while it runs. So much fun! Anybody want to try their hand at this, let me know. It's the best!
July 23, 2013

Vacation isn't the same when you're not employed. It's more of being unemployed, just in a different place.

However, I did allow myself to not think about finding work for an entire week. (please don't tell on me!) I had taken some recording gear along, just in case, but spending entire days on a beach seemed more productive, somehow... and of course, the evenings were "shot".

One day I recorded raw video for this mess. A little slice of life- if you live on a beach, I guess.

sand dial

July 10, 2013

Users of the Explorer browser (and maybe others?) should be able to see the pictures in this section of the page again. Sorry, I didn't know they weren't coming through until good old Dr Mo pointed this out to me last night. See, I use the Firefox browser, and it automatically corrects for some simple coding errors. Like the fact that there was no "equals" sign between the "height" parameter and the numeric value which follows it in the "image" command. Because I cut and paste chunks of code (like the "insert image" command), and because both Firefox and whatever my tablet uses as a browser and my i-phone browser all figure out that a "height" parameter is generally followed immediately by a value, even if the "equals" sign is missing, I didn't realize that there was a problem, and that I was copying it to new entries. Leave it to the boffins at Micro$oft to insist on having that equals sign!

Turns out it's been going on here for about a month and a half. Be sure to check the archives page to see what you've been missing!

July 09, 2013

The band Brethren has been here recording It's No Use. In two days we quickly ran up more than 16 tracks of audio, which I managed to stack using virtual tracks and stems, or submixes. But tomorrow we take vocals, and this is a band capable of 4-part harmony, so we need some more tracks. Hence,

32 tracks

It took some searching to find the secret to syncing up two recorders- the clock is carried through the digital stereo output, while the machine control is via MIDI. Thanks, Phil O'Keefe, for having this figured out and posting it online!

I'll be recording all the new audio to virtual tracks on the machine on the left, and using the machine on the right to play back mostly guitar tracks from last weekend (every guitar was taken using two mics, and there are quite a few guitar tracks so far). This will allow a backup of the left machine to contain all of the recorded tracks, and a restore to the second machine will allow me to pick which tracks get played back from it. Gee, I wonder if I could chain a third one in there? I think the desk is wide enough...

July 05, 2013

Those folks out in Simi Valley are always having fun with rockets!

test stand

Once upon a time I wrote a song about it...

Simi Valley Rocket Club

July 04, 2013

Independence Day. Do some independent thinking today.


You missed how the mdf got attached and holes cut through for the wheel supports, but there's what the gobo looks like with the Sonex applied.

the sandwich

I attached the mdf (you also missed how it got painted white) to the frame with silicone adhesive. Took a whole tube. I figure it will be plenty strong once it's cured, and may provide some additional acoustic damping. If the mdf panel boinks, I can always treat the non-Sonex side with something. The silicone is also gap-filling. The foam was attached with Scotch Spray 90. I may have gone overboard with it- it took an entire can to do these 16 panels. But I bet they're not dropping off anytime soon...



There's a drumset behind that thing. You can still hear it, but the direct sound of it is reduced a bunch.


Here's the business side. Turns out there is a pronounced "boink" down in the low end, so I'll be adding some bracing to the other side.

number 2

The second one is coming along. Going faster...

July 03, 2013

Spanky was a guy I used to work with who came out with some funny stuff sometimes. Like, when defending some bone-headed mistake he'd made, saying "I'm only told what I'm supposed to be told," and things like that. Came across a Spanky-ism in a guy's sig on a discussion site about gobos last night.

"I feel more like I did when I came in here than I do right now."

Maybe it's from Yogi, I don't know. You learn things, making gobos...



The frame is on wheels...
July 02, 2013


Things in gobo-land are moving right along. I was stumped when it came to getting 4' square panels here, but fortunately Dr. Doug loaned me his vehicle (I promise never to make fun of it again!). The thing is, this is MDF, which stands for Medium Density Fiberboard. As such, it's heavy, but not really strong, particularly if force is applied to an edge or a corner.

This won't be a problem once these panels are attached to frames, but in the meantime they have to be handled carefully or they will get all booggered up. And the other thing is that they are like big sponges, and when they get near water they soak it up and expand in very ugly ways. Again, not a problem when they are in the studio, but they will absorb moisture right out of the air, so paint is called for. Especially along the cut edges, where the raw fibre is exposed. Especially during this Florida-like weather we are having. So this is a photo of the edges having been painted with auto-body primer. Any latex paint is bad, they say... it's got water in it!

It was funny, because I went to a real lumberyard for this, and I ordered 3 4 by 4 foot panels, and he wrote me up for 4. Because they get cut from 4 by 8 panels, and they don't have the time to bother with off-cuts. And I'm OK with that- one of my gobos will simply be double-sided...
July 01, 2013


Here's an idea. I'm going to be making some gobos for sound control in the studio. Fancy name for a movable padded wall. I have some materials (thanks, Bob! Thanks Doug!) for three of them, and I'm designing them in Sketch-up, because free.

I was going to make them tall enough for a glass panel at the top- basically to block cymbal crashes but still allow visual contact between drummers and musicians. But how about making it big enough for a video wall? Then I could have TCM anywhere in the place!
Joe Ellis

Without a doubt, Joe Ellis has provided some of our most rewarding moments.

And we just
Slough it Off.

Who are these loonies anyway?

Woggi Noggi

Why, it's those cute lil' Woggi Noggi girls!

Find out why
Goats are Great!

Summer Thieves

I see the boys of Summer Thieves in their ruin. (that's poetry, you kneau)

Here's their song
You Can't Lie.

There's memes for everything that wingers love.
end gun violence

I made some to post if you're not crazy about guns.
and also...
Mission Statement:

Only pretentious asshats post mission statements on their websites. Be that as it may, I do have a mission here, and that is to discover if there's a better way to make a living making music than by selling little round pieces of plastic. Or charging big money for recording.

I'm looking for a bunch of small-scale sponsors willing to support my work as a musician, singer/songwriter and recording engineer, work that often includes recording up and coming artists for free.

If you like what you hear, and want to keep me going in the future, please sponsor the studio. It's that simple.
I got on a kick of making videos for a while. Here's one now-

Jeff Coleman
Save to Serve Her

It's a song about drinking...

...from a bitter cup.
Jeff Coleman
48 eagles

This is one of my art pieces. Heh.

But seriously, ever notice how may eagle n' flag things there are?

It's an entire industry unto itself I bet.
There really is a history to this website. It started out with, then moved to onlinerock before I figured out how to just rent my own space.

One of Lancaster county's first punk/new wave bands
the Blame
the Blame had a good run back in the last century. Here's some of that for those who remember...

The Kids are Alright (live)
For Hire:
Yes, the studio is for hire. We will record your song, your CD, your steam whistle or your grandmother. Rates on request, generally vary reasonably.

Room and Equipment:
1,000 sq ft open space with way too many guitar amps and old keyboards, some drums and percussion, some interesting mics, a comfy couch.

It's all about relaxing and making good music. I sweat the tech stuff so you don't have to. We can get just about any kind of session player you need.

These gentlemen have recorded here-

The Gadjo Playboys
The Gadjo Playboys

We've done about 2 1/2 CDs worth of stuff.

Some of it is still unreleased!
Jenny's Diner
Jen and Charlie

Jen Starsinic went on to collect a songwriting award the year we recorded this.

Birdy in a Cage

Charlie Muench went on to join the Stray Birds.
Craig Wise is one of those good old boys.
He brought a lot of his friends in here.

Craig Wise

And they're

Still Makin' Sunshine

All the Marbles was the first Willie Marble CD.

Commit a Crime

We sure had some good times down in the basement working on this one.

There was a bunch of kids making interesting music...

Old Time Liberation Front
The Old Time Liberation Front

Feeder Mice Jig

Most of them still are...

Kenny was one hell of a songwriter. Back in Paradise, way last century, I managed to get a few of his songs recorded.

The Taking

Kenny Gross
Kenny Gross

A lot of music gets made here by a mixed crew known as-

The Stokers
The Stokers

You never know what to expect!

The Wreck of the Frisco Pier
Dark 30
This band had a good run, and made some good recordings in my tiny studio in Paradise.

Toward the Light

Listen to Bob and that Funky Snakefoot hook into the bottom!
Liv Pooleside has a blog-

studio blog
Steam Powered Studio

It features even more babbling about a wider variety of stuff.

You can leave comments there...

Night Wolf
Night Wolf

He's gone on to the other shore, but he left a couple of songs with us.

Walkin' Blues

Young Fashioned Ways

A guy came in with a couple of old reel-to-reel tapes his dad made in the '70's.
Ron Cook
Ronnie Cook

Dad played a 5 string electric fiddle. One of the tapes was a make-believe radio show.
Dave Francis has had some awesome jam sessions at his place. I recorded the Honeycut Brothers (and others) live.
9 lb Hammer

Foggy Mt. Breakdown

Stable Jam
Stable Jam

Olds Sleeper

Olds Sleeper has created a whole lot of good music in the wee small hours. I got to work with him on a few tunes at my old place.

Olds #3

Me and Ben recorded Blind Joe Death in a round building at a scout camp.

live at the round house

You Got to Love Somebody

Made a pretty good CD-
Live at the Roundhouse
Old Ezra Shade gets in here every so often.

Ezra Shade

Here's a little something seasonal...

Christmas Time
Dr Mo
Dr. Mo

We have stuff here going back years...

Junko Partner

...and new stuff in the works.
One of his recent songs has been animated by Brian McCall.