In the Fall of 2010 my friend Chris Devine and I traveled to Toronto, Canada with my Guild and a notebook with 10 new songs. My friend/producer, Dan Cutrona was waiting for us at the gate and we drove 90 miles NW to Quinte West, Ontario and parked in front of a small stone church converted into a recording studio where we were greeted by owner/engineer, Brent Bodrug.
The studio is a live-in facility and for the next three days we recorded 10 guitar/vocal tracks. The project was originally titled "Love and Geology" but after cutting "Jigsaw Monet" Dan and Brent suggested that the title track should be "Jigsaw Monet." I agreed.
Why would I travel so far just to record guitar tracks? My reasoning was simple. This was to be a Folk Music project. Canadians are serious about recording acoustic music and Brent's attention to detail was exactly what I was looking for. The mic placement for each track was methodical. An overhead mic just for the low end, a mic to capture nuances of the fretboard and area mics to bring the warmth of the room into the track.. This is not to say that my engineer friends in Jersey and New York don't know how to record an acoustic guitar, they certainly do... but, I went to Canada because this solo studio project is focused on a specific genre and I wanted to immerse myself in a culture that has high regard for acoustic singer/songwriters...to be honest, I probably just wanted to weigh-in my writing efforts in a place that has spawned so many brilliant songwriters. After all, familiarity can limit your vision. Sometimes it's best to get out of "Dodge" to reach higher.
Then again, they say no matter where you travel, you'll always end up in your own backyard.
With ten new songs ready to go I began performing at showcases and folk clubs in New York, Asbury Park and Red Bank. I met many new friends and local songwriters.
I met Marc Muller after an event in Red Bank. I was so blown away by his musicianship that I wrote more songs and asked Marc if he would play on a few tracks. We set a date and went into his studio...seven songs later, I now found myself with a mix of solo guitar/vocal tunes from Canada and some lightly, but beautifully produced new tracks from right here!
Well, so much for the purist vision I had for "Jigsaw Monet!" I decided to create a CD with just six of the ten songs from Canada, the songs from Marc's studio and a gently produced track titled "Barrow Street" I did with my friend John Allen in his beautiful studio. (Studio 609) However, to remain true to my first intentions I've ended the CD with "Northern Town," a simple guitar/vocal track which pretty much brings the project full circle.
Whether or not I had to leave the country to reach higher is not certain but the trip to Quinte West did set the bar above my own expectations and I am very grateful for the talented people who helped me stretch and paint this musical canvas I now call "Jigsaw Monet."