coffee tyme
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...
May 31, 2013


From facebook. I don't know who they are, or what it's about, but this is a great photo...
May 30, 2013

the kids

A little found music for your mp3 by midnight enjoyment- Rehearsal for War Requiem #1.mp3
May 28, 2013

What Was the Point?


Through a series of accidents I was presented with the (very) raw material for this video. Be warned, it's nature in the buff in places. If you kind of get a kick out of David Lynch it will probably be OK for you.
The original footage (one long shot) was made at night, with a flashlight, while drinking. Actually holding the camera in one hand, the flashlight and a bottle of Lord Chet in the other. I was inspired.
Well, after that incident I bought a camcorder for a completely different purpose. It turned out to be pretty cool, so I thought I might use it to turn the inspiration into an actual piece of work.
Today it rained. The new camcorder was charging, so when I started getting ideas for the video (which involved a chore that needed doing right away) I thought, hell, I'll just record some of the scenes with the old Panasonic digital camera that I used for the night footage, not worrying too much about it getting wet.
I threw some saran wrap over it and plotted out my scenes. Fortunately, they involved that chore I mentioned, so it wasn't entirely just wanking. My first and really only "idea" was how to film the wheelbarrow in motion, because I had nobody to push it and/or hold the camera. I didn't want to appear in any of the thing, so I couldn't just walk past a camera on a tripod. Anyhow, I worked that out, then the other scenes just sort of happened as needed to tell the story.
Right up to the end I was still thinking I'd add scenes using the new camera, but it turned out I had plenty of footage to work with. It all went into a Microsoft movie editor, and I have to say it was a snap to put the thing together. (as you may know, I NEVER have anything good to say about that company, so...)
And here you are! I hadn't started off to make a music video- I was just going to make a short subject film. But the subject matter just sort of fit real well with the song I chose for the soundtrack, and so there it it. You patrons have an original, filmed and edited in about 6 hours.
May 18, 2013

Working in the box.

the box

"The Box" is what recording geeks call computer-based recording, using software that runs on general purpose computers (laptops, desktops, whatever). This stuff has been around for a long time. People still go on and on about their Amiga systems, but things only became really powerful sometime in the '90's. You've maybe heard of Pro Tools?

I never cared much for working that way. Computers sometimes crash. They require constant attention to software and driver upgrades, and when you do the upgrades, there are often new problems introduced. Did I mention that computers crash? There's a sort of time-lag that happens that really bugs me. And then there is constant pressure to upgrade- faster computer, new interface protocalls, more features in the software, more "plug-ins". All of this strikes me as a colossal waste of time not spent making music, and money not spent on things that make the music more musical, rather than on things that let you fix mistakes.

I have nothing against fixing mistakes, mind. I do hate filling my head with junk like driver versions and port addresses and a lot of other things that need to be taken care of just to get audio into and out of a computer. Which is why I've been using my Yamaha AW4416 digital workstation now for lo these many years. I've had one software upgrade and only two crashes in 12 years of use. That is pure gold.

The trouble started when I wanted to record the piano part for a new version of The Great Ticking Heart as a MIDI file so I could, erm, fix my mistakes. I have a 1980's era Mac Plus which runs Master Tracks Pro sequencing software that I could have used, but it was on the far side of the room, so I used a DigiDesign MBox-2 interface (thanks, Andy!) connected to the house PC here in the studio just to git 'er done. For software, I use Reaper, a powerful yet suprisingly inexpensive recording program which handles audio and MIDI.

Well, recording dates can be unpredictable. The next time we worked on the song I wanted to quickly throw down a drum part so I wouldn't forget the idea, so we put up a couple of mics and I played drums, recording them to the Yamaha. I was not happy with the timing on my first attempt and I recorded another take. Naturally, the first take had all the energy, and it sounded very interesting. But the timing was all messed up in a lot of places- what's a mother to do?

I tried fixing it in the Yamaha, which is do-able, but I soon realised that it would be a lot easier in this case to use one of them thar computers to do this, so's I could visually see how things were lining up. Reaper can handle waveform editing, so I planned to transfer my stuttering drum track into the box and work on it there.

Not so fast! The MBox-2 worked for MIDI transfers, but the audio section has been screwed up for some time and couldn't be used. I made it on over to my local Guitar Center where they had a good deal on that Tascam USB interface you see at the top of this post. (Let me tell you, if you work at GC and you see an old guy like me coming in and he asks for an exact brand and model of something, just assume he probably knows what he wants. Don't tell him you don't carry it if he's already checked online and knows that you have it in your location. And don't tell him that some other unit is much better when he's been reading the specs on these things since sometime before you were born. An' don't I sound like an old codger now?)

Well, I brought it in and hooked it in and transferred my drum track into the box, and then 4 or 5 hours went by and now I know the real reason I didn't want to work in the box. It's like Joe says, Space Invader syndrome. I can't stop! I knew this would happen! I downloaded the Reaper manual- all 350 plus pages of it- and started reading today. I'll get back to ya in a couple of weeks...

And oh by the way, I'll be posting up the edited rough track on my patreon site in a bit so if you become a patron you can hear exactly what I'm talking about.
May 14, 2013


It's about time somebody thought of this!

All things in their time. I've always believed in this idea, and I've always admitted that I couldn't sell it. Last Groundhog's Day I shut down the exclusive "sponsors area" of Steam Powered, and nobody made a peep.

So I'm going in with this Patreon deal, because as far as I can tell it's pretty much exactly what I'd been trying to do here. And I'll be glad to give them their 5%. They're clearly better salesmen than I am. Here's some of the buzz...


I'm not sure if the content I give them must be exclusive, but it probably will be, just to keep the patreons happy. Maybe I'll continue to release lower-quality versions here. Also I'll need to get permissions from the artists who record here- but of course, that's always been the deal from this end. (Steam Powered is still the first listener-supported studio) Not sure if I can blog there... more later.

(OK, it's later...)
Go ahead- be patreonizing! I need to see how this thing works...
May 12, 2013


Those guys from Summer Thieves discovered Alisha online. (guys, uh, she plays the guitar better than us...)

It goes without saying that she's better looking than any of us. And she sings just as good as she wants. Looking forward to recording her.

Also looking forward to having Ruby back to record some new songs!

Meanwhile I'm trying to put together a "media center" for my home. We just don't have a stereo in there, other than my old boom box, which is like, cassette-era. It sounds great, but... everything newer than Gang of Four is on a hard drive somewhere. I have an older pc which is going to serve as the control center for the thing. There's software originally created for the xbox called XBMC which gives you large text and remote control capabilities, and we'll view the thing on the tv set. I'm not sure how compatible all this stuff is going to be- I need a new video card to give me an HDMI port, and a new wireless card because the living room is clear on the wrong side of the house from the cable net, and probably a new audio card and a decent amp and speakers... I am truly suprised that there isn't a good integrated electronics system to do this stuff yet, but a quick tour of the local Best Buys revealed... nothing. Oh, there's all sorts of "receivers" and 5-way amplifiers, but nothing you could plug an ethernet cable into and tie into your local network or stream from the web. Am I missing something?
May 08, 2013

A new photo of the Sporting Hill Ramblers on their page, and can you name the town we're playing in? Thanks, Bob, for the pics!

Joe stopped in last night with an excellent new approach to The Great Ticking Heart. Also, more work on Pete's project, added some percussions... actually used the talking drum for the first time since Playground! And to think I wanted to sell that thing.
May 07, 2013

good news, bad news...


I was working on some music for Pete and got to try the technique of combining the live drum sound with the triggered drum samples. It worked really well! That's the good news- the bad news is that I must have weakened the small tom-tom head with all the messing around attaching and detaching the trigger sensor. I was wondering why that drum sounded crappy lately! My little tom was sad...
May 02, 2013

Working on a lyric...

At the twilight of division
The master of derision
Rendered his decision
As we were well aware

Written up in papers
Following the capers
Finally it tapers to a
Few lines of despair

How could it be clearer
You argue with a mirror
Whichever you hold dearer
Will be the thing you are

Also, Joe and I are working on an updated version of Great Ticking Heart. We are throwing Joe on vocals...

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.