session log: amanda penecale at cambridge, newtown square PA

amanda and adam arguing with jim about lunch
amanda and adam arguing with jim about lunch

jim salamone had sent me three mp3’s of the tracks we’d be cutting for amanda penecale‘s new album, and had mentioned that he might want lap steel, pedal steel and weissenborn in varying degrees on each of the three of the songs he’d sent…although jim has historically had a tendency to refer to lap steel as “electric dobro” – which i’ve come to consider charming, in its own way. 🙂

jim and i are new friends, even though we’ve been working together on projects for almost a year…jim is still figuring me out, in a lot of ways. i introduced jim to the weissenborn when we first started working together, brought in the mandola and octave mandolin for a subsequent session…and this time, based on what i heard in the rough mixes, i figured that maybe it was time to introduce jim to the baritone guitar. there was also a song that sounded like it could use some good old fashioned lowell george-style bottleneck on it as well. and, since i had left my “lowell” strat in the car from the session the day before, i just threw my MXR phase 90 in my bag and brought it with me…just in case.

so it would be lap steel on one track, “lowell” on another, and pedal steel and baritone on the third.

with amanda in the control room at cambridge
with amanda in the control room at cambridge

amanda is a sweetheart, and she’s got a promising future…the songs that she’s doing for this project will definitely get her some attention. eric, her partner, is a solid player, too….they’re putting together a solid EP of stuff here.

with both the baritone guitar and the bottleneck on the strat, i had to sell them both on what i was going for. to their credit, they were willing to hear me out, and i think that they both liked what we ended up doing. we got the lap steel song out of the way first…i think jim was hoping for something more aggressive than what we ended up going with, but to my ear it wasn’t a song that was really screaming for an aggressive part…and if i had put something aggressive on it, it would’ve stuck out like a sore thumb. we came up with a part that (i think) was a nice compromise…a less aggressive part, but with a more aggressive tone.

this is jim's "you better ask me again, and nice this time" look.
this is jim's "you better ask me again, and nice this time" look.

the second song didn’t really require a lot, i didn’t think…all i really did for that one was to add the stratocaster slide stuff in a couple of nooks and crannies – just like lowell woulda done it, with the long fades from point a to the destination fret. that was one of my favorite things about the way lowell played…he could stretch a phrase out and milk it for all it was worth.

there’s an album that former seldom scene leader john starling did many years ago, called long time gone, that had two tracks on it that lowell played on – the title track and another song called turn you to stone…lowells’ playing on that song is just sublime. it’s everything a player should strive to achieve for that style of guitar. hunt it down if you can find it.

so, with those two down, we had only “autumn arrives” left…which got the baritone guitar and pedal steel treatment.

it’s one of those songs with a pseudo-three-four time that works really well with the arpeggiated baritone guitar parts, and the pedal steel would have been done in one pass, but – well, you know how these people are. they always want choices.

friggin’ artists. and producers. nobody’s happy with a single pass anymore. 🙂

the session was originally supposed to be 11 to 3pm, but we ended up going until around 5:30 or so..which was fine, but it had me cutting my nighttime activities a little close – i was to meet my buddy mark shultz back in reading to go see marshall tucker…which was quite a night in and of itself.

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