now at dbstudios we wouldn’t thinking of starting our day with an early morning pun; as in new sE Titan condenser microphones (matching pair) which we have just acquired & Jon Altman (scored large sections (alongside James Horner) of James Cameron’s Titanic) along with London based vocal star Pola Pospieszalska coming to spend a week with us at the studio next week…
courtesy of Nicky Alsmasy (http://almasy-photography.com)
They call it stormy Monday, but Tuesday’s just as bad
They call it stormy Monday, but Tuesday’s just as bad
Wednesday’s worse, and Thursday’s also sad
Yes the eagle flies on Friday, and Saturday I go out to play
Eagle flies on Friday, and Saturday I go out to play
Sunday I go to church, then I kneel down and pray
Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy on me
Lord have mercy, my heart’s in misery
Crazy about my baby, yes, send her back to me
All good things come to an end or so they say yet when it comes to a person’s life and particularly when that person was very dear to you it’s a pretty bitter-sweet pill to swallow… but it is nonetheless true. Wednesday 14th July 2010 was just one such day and the world truly is a sadder place for the passing of Jacqui Staton aka. Sugar Mama who for nearly a decade now has been the absolute vocal mainstay of Shanghai’s Cotton Club; and whether it was her nightly (a la Ronnie Scott) one “blackinese” joke or her drier than a black olive humour that first hooked you in you can be sure of one thing, it was Mama’s voice that kept you in that chair (or stool in my case) and had you coming back night after night for that fix of Staton sweetness.
Whether she was tearing holes in a Stevie Wonder cover or working wonders with a Matt Harding original you can be sure of one thing, things will never be quite the same again; her timing was second to none like a young Miles Davis, her punch that of a mature Etta James and her exuberance obviously coming from her days on the road with Ike & Tina Turner.
Sugar Mama was the real deal and for any wannabe musicians she set the bar mighty damn high.
What can we do on days like this… well Mama has to have the last word and I think she might just say “let’s give thanks to our Heavenly Father” and all we might say is amen.
“I’m gonna wait till the midnight hour
That’s when my love comes tumbling down
I’m gonna wait till the midnight hour
When there’s no one else around
I’m gonna take you girl and hold you
And do all the things I told you
In the midnight hour”
The midnight hour is when the stars come out, so Wilson Pickett told us and looking at Nicky Almasy’s (soon to be hosted at dbstudios) “In the Midnight Hour” collection of Shanghai’s musical alumni he was not far wrong; ranging from funk heavyweight Carlton J Smith to the completely funked up Alec Haavik (http://www.alechaavik.com), passing through the dulcet tones of Coco Zhao to the gyspy meanderings of Lulo Reinhardt, with a smattering of saxophone muse Willow Neilson right up to the Hendrix-meister himself Jimy Graham, there is something for every auditory and for that matter visual palate.
The pictures are intimate yet abstract at one and the same time. Startingly personal whilst also resorting to large swathes of primary colours as he tries to capture the evanescent personalities and sounds of the musicians we know and love that provide the nocturnal soundtrack to this ever changing metropolis; most apparently they could only have been taken by someone who has strong musical sensibilities themselves & it is no surprise that Almasy also heads up pop rock outfit Monroe Stahr alongside working as a That’s Shanghai journalist.
dbstudios is delighted to host this exhibition which will open on the 24th March – date to be decided… prints framed and unframed will be on sale including a limited edition of signed prints so don’t be shy come on over and feel free to contact Nicky directly on + 86 13162883931 for sales and further details.
Monday – Friday: 11:30 – 15:00
Saturday /Sunday: 11:00 – 17:00
Though not quite looking down on creation I (along with ace Jersey bassist Luke Kessel & NYC “drummer-on-drugs” (strictly metaphorically speaking!!!) Joe Mahone) was not far from it, as we provided the musical backdrop for International Soul Brother Carlton J Smith at the world’s highest bar the Park Hyatt’s 92nd floor-no-less Music Room from 21st October 2009 – 23rd February 2010… packing the house with a heady mix of jaw dropping funk classics and always emotionally charged CJS originals… the crowds at times had to be seen to be believed and that would even include (as the band’s keyboardist) folks strutting their stuff on the back of my Yamaha boudoir grand.
And boy we saw it all… broken down elevators… flying bar stools… proposals of marriage… even had a guitarist walk off stage with his knickers in a twist mid-Summertime (now that was a first… and you can be sure he didn’t get to walk back on again) but hell we had fun… learned some new tunes on the way… but perhaps most of all we all took one step forward in that heady journey we think of as life and to quote our ever-the-man band leader:
cos when you’ve been on top of the world what else is there you can do… unless maybe it’s time to start reaching for those stars… you just never know what might happen!!!
She’s young, beautiful and abundantly talented (and sxsfly – I’m not talking about you!!!) of mixed Han and Mongolian Ancestry, playing gu zheng, matouqin (Mongolian horse head fiddle) whilst singing in four languages (Mandarin, Sanskrit, Tibetan and her own personally invented language) Sa Ding Ding is the future of world music and when in 2008 we heard she was winning the BBC Radio 3 World Music Award for the Asia-Pacific region we knew we couldn’t be far wrong.
So when at dbstudios we get a call asking if we have a spare two hours to record gu zheng for her next single we find ourselves (in spite of a completely overbooked diary) magic-ing an extra two hours into the day; a Sputnik a pair of Pulsars and away we went.
Zhang Yi (who is already an acclaimed pipa player and no stranger to dbstudios) made three flawless takes and before you could say Holy Himalayas the tracks were being Rapid Shared (www.rapidshare.com) to Beijing and from there Universal Studios London.
Learn more at:
db studios (with all our purist analogue/high brow musical pretensions… who am i kidding!!!) has finally acquiesced and the DJs are rolling in thick and fast to do their mixes… well what does it take?!?
Aside from our standard studio rig… the macs… the project mix i/o… protools 8 (and ozone 4 mastering plug-ins) not much!!! A pair of Pioneer CDJ’s that fit your budget a decent submixer (a DJM 2/400) is just great and then that all important connection a pair of high quality RCA/jack leads.
These were not that easy to come by and i ended up getting my man james (see blogroll: sunnytone) to make me up a set; the net result… (dj danes was the first through the doors – hailing from Barcelona he produced a heady mix of house trance and techno)… blistering.
Then all you need to understand is normalisation the media you are mastering to and hey presto… mix-tastic!!!
Talk to any band leader and am afraid you’ll hear the same old cliche… things ain’t what they used to be… guys not rehearsed up… not knowing the changes… the hooks… the bridges… whatever it may be… you get the picture; well after yesterday’s dbstudios’ session I’m afraid I experienced very little that would persuade me otherwise.
We were “hohnered” (no prizes for her instrument of choice) to welcome Marion Campbell all the way from Stirling Scotland; now at 81 you might expect there to be a few glitches a few lapses of memory a few forgotten chord changes, but indeed nothing could be further from the truth; she laid down well over two hours of music played pretty well back-to-back ranging from Irish folk to Scottish ballads with even 45 minutes of modern tunes thrown in, with out a single sheet of music or chord prompt in sight… just wonderful!!!
A big thanks to Nick Watson (who many of you from Shanghai will indeed know) for bringing Marion (who is indeed his maternal auntie) to our attention and he’ll be the man to contact for the three album boxed set when all the material is finally mixed and mastered.
All studio buffs wondering how we recorded… well because of time constraints were we obliged to mike externally… a pair of Lunas (essentially one for each hand – the left hand mike (assuming a right handed player must have a good bass response) and a pair of overheard Pulsars to fill things out; more details check out:
Anyone living in Shanghai and hasn’t heard of Carlton J Smith then we can presume one thing… you don’t get out much!!!
And that would pretty well much apply to anywhere on the international music scene cos this cat’s a brother and a known brother… when you’re getting called “Soul Brother Number New” by none other than Alan Leeds (road manager for James Brown/Prince) then you know the man is packing; and along with his red hot band the “Mighty Magnificents” Joey Mahone (drums), Luke Kessel (bass), Menace (guitar), Joel Lindberg (keys) & the delightful Anne Evenou (lead/BVs) he’s recording his next drop at dbstudios.
We’ll keep you posted… meanwhile check out some of his previous tunes at:
#dbstudios is getting ready to welcome Anna Hughes’s Tricycle to the studio… and believe me if you haven’t heard of them yet… you’ll be downloading them to your sweaty little i-pods as fast as your firewire will allow before the summer’s over.
Comprised of Anna Hughes on bass and vocals (see ’nuff said) Gilbert Kuppusami on djembe & vocals (no stranger to #dbstudios having been involved with a host of projects including the Jimi Graham trio and most recently Lions of Puxi) and Gauthier Roubichou on all things vocal & percussion (also of Lions of Puxi) these cats are taking Shanghai by storm.
A heady Sade-esque (and I don’t use UK’s greatest soul voice of the 80′s name lightly) Latin American influenced djembe driven cocktail these guys in the right hands (and that would me!!!) could really go far… watch this space for updates.
Things just keep getting better as we move into phase 2 of recording Sara Routh’s new project Sitting On My Window… as we are joined today by outstanding acoustic bassist Scott Dodd (pictured above)… violinist “extraordinaire” Peng Fei and my man Yam (Pranayam Aquino) on all things percussive…