Seven Songs from Seven Sons
My latest project, which has just recently been completed, is a studio recording with a 6 piece Contemporary Folk/Bluegrass band Seven Sons. They comprise of 2 female vocalists Ruth Alexander and Clayr Borthwick, who also play ukuleles, Alan Finn on double bass, Bill Rennie on dobro, Barry Nisbet on fiddle and George Stott on acoustic guitar.
The girls had only been performing and writing together for a couple of years or so before they contacted me, and the present line up had only been together a matter of weeks. They had never recorded as a band before and the girls had never been in a studio. They had heard a previous live recording I had produced, and were keen to do an as live performance in a studio environment.
I researched Bluegrass recordings considerably before the session as I was keen to keep to the roots of traditional Bluegrass. Most vintage recordings were captured using only 1 mic, with each performer stepping up to the mic for solos. I would use a somewhat bastardised version of this technique, to capture the vocals in the studio.
On the day I went with a main mic for the vocal and ukuleles. The ukes had no pickups, so no Di’s could be used. The polar pattern of the 87 was set to fig 8 with the rear of the mic pointing at the floor, this was done to try to focus the mic on the vocal and not pick up so much of the ukes. I had the band set up in a semi-circle, with the double bass boxed in using panels, to minimise spill. Each instrument was mic’d up. I also had a spaced pair of 87s, approx. 1.5 meters either side of the main mic to pick up the room and reinforce the main vocal mic.
The girls in particular were very nervous, as expected. I kept the atmosphere in the studio relaxed and they grew more confident as the session progressed. We would finish the day with excellent takes of seven songs.
Mixing would then take place at my home studio over the following months.