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Jim Washburn, Dick Boak, and The Martin Archives

The Martin Archives, Jim Washburn with Dick Boak, is a unique inside look into C.F. Martin & Co.’s reign as America’s oldest and most revered guitarmaker – viewed through a selection of images, correspondence, documents, and reproduced artifacts chosen from some 700,000 items the company has amassed over nearly two centuries. The excerpt below takes a look further at the book and its compilation with Noisey.com.


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Forty years into his career at America’s oldest guitar company, the luthier and polymath talks about C.F. Martin & Co’s history and impact on popular culture.

The music industry’s most influential players are often its least visible: the record executives we never see, the lawyers whose names we don’t know, the recording engineers whose names we’ve heard but who we wouldn’t recognize on the street. These are the people that see how music is made and know how the artists act offstage. We may not know their names, but they are the industry’s gatekeepers, its preservationists and visionaries.

Take Dick Boak, director of the museum and archives at C.F. Martin and Company who entered the business 40 years ago while dumpster diving. During the counterculture movement of the late 1960s and 1970s, Boak was a poet, artist, and woodworker who specialized in building instruments. When he requested permission to pick through the guitar factory’s leftover wood scraps while traveling through Nazareth, Pennsylvania in 1976, he was impressed by their selection. “I hit the jackpot with rosewood and mahogany and ebony and spruce: woods I had never seen before, let alone at the dimensions and sizes I needed to experiment with guitar making,” Boak recalls. After he sorted through the piles, Boak was asked for samples of his work and shortly thereafter was offered a job. In the decades since, Boak has built hundreds of specialized guitars and helped develop Martin’s artist relations and archive departments, becoming the company’s in-house expert. “I’m a little overly close to Martin,” Boak says now. “I would’ve done the job for free.”

In his early years at Martin, Boak introduced the idea of signature guitars to the company. In 1994, the company produced their first, the Gene Autry model and, since then, the specialized, artist-driven guitar has become an industry staple.. These days, Boak busies himself with cultivating Martin’s historical documents, a task most recently documented by The Martin Archives, a book co-authored by Boak and Jim Washburn that was released this month by Hal Leonard. “It’s Dick’s life’s work, in a way,” Washburn says of the book. “He has a huge appreciation for what the company was and has the vision to project that into the future.”

Though it took Washburn less than two years to write The Martin Archives’ content, Boak’s work on the project began in the early 2000s when he, Washburn and author Richard Johnston collaborated on an earlier project documenting Martin’s history titled Martin Guitars: An Illustrated Celebration of America’s Premiere Guitarmaker. When they stumbled upon dozens of boxes of company documents in an old factory attic, Boak became determined to preserve the materials and search for others that might exist around the country. He collaborated with museums, music historians, libraries, and eBay traders to track down old photos, newspaper clippings, sales receipts and flyers. When he approached Washburn about The Martin Archives, he handed over a hard drive containing about 4,000 documents.

In the following months, Washburn sifted through the documents Boak provided and research of his own to define the book’s narrative. What they discovered was not only proof of a company’s success but of a country’s march through time. Simple things like factory blueprints and the introduction of paperclips and carbon paper to the company’s filing system told a different side of Martin’s story. “We saw all these inventions come along. Martin moved with the times to take advantage of those things,” Washburn says. “[The book] marks American history as it changed, as seen through the eyes of this one company.”

 


Read the full interview here.

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#Mixerman and the Billionheir Apparent Harmony Central Review

#Mixerman and the Billionheir Apparent, interweaves a wild and entertaining adventure with his off-color social commentary on a dying industry in a rapidly changing world – a world in which the Internet fails to stave the economic divide, independent musicians have no shot at a living wage, all because Big Tech controls the commerce of music at all levels. Below is an excerpt of a review posted by Harmony Central.


00147344A decade ago, The Daily Adventures of Mixerman, a collected publication of message board posts from anonymous user “Mixerman,” skewered the music industry from behind the mixing console. Arrogant, questionably talented musicians, meddling and insane producers, and the moneymen of artist marketing populated Mixerman’s “identities changed to protect the guilty” true story about the sausage factory that churned out radio-ready “product” in the early-00s. It was instant hit in engineering and musician circles, and truly a product of its time, with big label hubris blinding the industry to the fact that they were already, much like Wile E. Coyote, treading air ten feet beyond the edge of the cliff, waiting for self-awareness to initiate the inevitable plunge into the canyon (cue slide whistle). Funny, ironic, and incredibly insightful, The Daily Adventures of Mixerman combined industry and engineering information in an easy-to-digest format for casual readers through a an involving story and solid narrative beats. Long-since outed as producer/engineer Eric Sarafin, Mixerman began publishing chapter-length blog posts on his site in 2015 that are now collected in the 304 page hardcover novel #Mixerman and the Billionheir Apparent, published by Hal Leonard.

#Mixerman and the Billionheir Apparent stars the same narrator/author as TDAoMM, but this time fully embraces fiction to tell the very real story of where music production was at in the year 2015. The story can be summarized as such: Mixerman agrees to mentor the son of an Indian billionaire in exchange for a fat paycheck and gets involved in a financially risky race to create a 5 million dollar hit… shenanigans ensue. The narrative and pace are solid and engaging, and like TDAoMM, the characters have voices and personalities that are quirky yet grounded in reality, but the narrator’s journey is really just (satisfying) trappings for a bigger story; the state of the music industry, technology, and even Western Culture.


To read the full review, click here.

Howard Massey Chats with Music Connection

Howard Massey, author of The Great British Recording Studiossat down for an interview with on the Producer Crosstalk segment of Music Connection to discuss his career from a musician to now an author. The Great British Recording Studios tells the story of the iconic British facilities where many of the most important recordings of all time were made. Check out the excerpt below.


00333513Engineer, music journalist and newly minted novelist Howard Massey came to the business as many do: as a musician. After a move to London and an inked publishing deal, he logged hours at Pathway Studios. When the engineer there told him he was leaving, he asked Massey to fill the vacancy. As his repertoire broadened, he found that he was something of an expert on the Yamaha DX7 synthesizer. So good, in fact, that a friend suggested he write a book on it. He’s since scribed Behind the Glass and co-authored Geoff Emerick’s 2006 acclaimed Here, There, and Everywhere. Recently he has branched into fiction.

Howard Massey’s career has been shaped by a series of “left turns,” as he calls them. “I started out wanting to be a rock & roll star,” the writer explains. “I discovered that I had good ears. When I returned to New York, I was offered a job at Electric Lady Studios and when the [Yamaha] DX7 came out, I got one of the early ones. I found that no one really knew how to use it, including the people at Yamaha, surprisingly. So I locked myself in a room and learned to program it. A friend said I should teach other people. Later, someone else suggested I write a book.” In 1986, The Complete DX7 was published and his literary career thereby drew its first breaths.

With such a level of studio acquaintance––37 featured in Behind the Glass––Massey has thoughts on what signifies a space with staying power. “If people are flocking to book a studio, there’s something they’re doing right,” he observes. “Of course these days any studio that’s still in business, by definition, is successful because everything’s changed dramatically. Clients demanded more and record companies insisted on lower hourly rates. Studios got caught in the cash crunch. Of the 36 discussed in my book The Great British Recording Studios, only three are still in business.

“People today don’t feel the need to go into a professional studio,” he continues. “That’s a bit misguided. There are few artists in history who’ve had the ability to produce themselves well and view their work objectively. You can probably count [them] on one hand. If nothing else, having an objective third set of ears is invaluable. These days everybody thinks they can be a musician, songwriter, engineer and producer wrapped into one. It’s not that easy to be good at different things. I’m not saying nobody can do it. I’m saying few can. It’s hard to master several crafts at the same time and exceptionally hard to be objective about your work.”


Read the full interview here.

Bobby Borg Discusses the DIY Musician with dBs Insider

Bobby Borg recently sat down with dBs Insider to discuss the DIY musician. He is no stranger to this subject as he is a former major label, independent, and DIY recording/touring artist. The interview covered his books Business Basics for Musicians and Music Marketing for the DIY Musician, plus more.


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00124611The interview began with the questions that many aspiring artists may have, “How do I get my music out there?” and “How do I make a career in music?”

His book, Marketing for the DIY Musician, thoroughly explored this topic. It is a proactive, practical, step-by-step guide to producing a fully integrated, customized, low-budget plan of attack for artists marketing their own music. In a conversational tone, it reveals a systematic business approach employing the same tools and techniques used by innovative top companies, while always encouraging musicians to stay true to their artistic integrity. It’s the perfect blend of left-brain and right-brain marketing.

In Music Marketing For The DIY Musician, the first thing is important to realize is what marketing actually is. Marketing isn’t something that happens after your music is ready, it begins at the inception of an idea with a vision. You need to have a clear idea of where you want to go and what you want to do first. Marketing isn’t just advertising or promotion, they are subsets of it.

00139915For those that are interested in deal that artists garner from record labels to publishing, he discusses that topic in his book Business Basics for Musicians. The 300+ page book is the layperson’s guide to the music industry. In a conversational tone and an easy-to-scan format, it simplifies five vital areas in which musicians need to succeed: Career Execution, Business Relationships, Pro Teams, Deals and Dollars, and Future Predictions. Everything from copyright to record deals, managers, merchandising, and doing it yourself is covered.

The Business Basics For Musicians Book is more about the actual deals you’ll get in your music career. Agents, record labels, lawyers, managers, publishing deals.  Those are the things that it focuses on. The key takeaway from the first chapter in this book is making sure you really do want to be in the music industry, because for most people they give up too soon, they have false expectations of how quickly they are going to find success or sustainability in the business. The idea is to go out there, build some momentum on your own and then hopefully the managers and labels and the rest will come. You need to have realistic expectations of where you are at in your career.


Read the full interview here.

Making A Cappella Cool Again

Meet Deke Sharon, the man behind the current a cappella revolution, vocal arranger for  Broadway’s first a cappella musical, In Transit, coming this fall, and author of the new book, The Heart of Vocal Harmony. Deke spoke with Jacki Lyden, host of weekends on All Things Considered, about how he got involved with a cappella, how it’s changed, and his time with the actresses of the hit movie, Pitch Perfect! Listen to the interview below!

>>Listen<<

00156135Most choirs spend their rehearsal time focusing on notes, rhythms, and precision. They rarely, if ever, discuss a song’s meaning and feeling, even though those elements are precisely what draws people to the music in the first place. Thousands of books have been written about choral technique, teaching people how to sing technically well. What sets The Heart of Vocal Harmony apart is its focus on honest unified expression and the process of delivering an emotionally compelling performance. It delves into an underdeveloped vocal topic – the heart of the music and the process involved with expressing it.

The Heart of Vocal Harmony is not just for a cappella groups – it is also for vocal harmony groups, ensembles, and choirs at all levels, with or without instruments. In addition to the process, the book features discussions with some of the biggest luminaries in vocal harmony: composers, arrangers, directors, singers, and groups – including Eric Whitacre, Pentatonix, the Manhattan Transfer, and more!

A Cappella Musical ‘In Transit’ Set To Open On Broadway!

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In Transit, the new a cappella musical that counts Frozen Oscar winner Kristen Anderson-Lopez among its writers, will begin previews November 10 at Broadway’s Circle in the Square. Among its many talented writers and directors, vocal arrangements will be by Deke Sharon, who is best known for his work on Pitch Perfect and The Sing-Off and is also the author of The Heart of Vocal Harmony.

In Transit, the a cappella musical that played a critically acclaimed run Off-Broadway, will begin previews November 10 at Broadway’s Circle in the Square, prior to a December 11 opening night.

Casting and creative team have not been announced.

Circle in the Square is currently home to the Tony-winning musical Fun Home, which will end its run September 10.

Advance tickets for In Transit go on sale to American Express Card Members July 25 (10 AM/EST) through August 2 (9:59 AM EST). Audience Rewards members will have advance ticket access from August 2 (10 AM EST) through August 8 (9:59 AM EST).

Tickets will go on sale to the general public August 8 at 10 AM/EST at Telecharge.com. Tickets range from $89-$159.

With a book, music and lyrics by Academy Award winner Kristen Anderson-Lopez ( Frozen), James-Allen Ford, Russ Kaplan and Sara Wordsworth, vocal arrangements by Deke Sharon ( Pitch Perfect, The Sing-Off) and musical supervision by Rick Hip-Flores ( Rocky), In Transit will be directed and choreographed by three-time Tony Award winner Kathleen Marshall ( Anything Goes, Nice Work If You Can Get It).


Learn more in PlayBill.com

The Art of Recording a Big Band

The Art of Recording a Big Band is now available at Groove3! This inspiring and educational documentary, shot by Shevy Shovlin, is all about studio legend Al Schmitt. Watch the video trailer below for a look behind the documentary!

A highly anticipated documentary, The Art of Recording a Big Band is now available for streaming and download at Groove3.com. The Art of Recording a Big Band was filmed at the famed Capitol Studios in Hollywood, CA, over the course of a two-day master class by industry legend Al Schmitt and partner, Steve Genewick recording Chris Walden’s GRAMMY® Awards-nominated 18-piece jazz big band.

The film focuses on the recording methods of Schmitt, one of the most celebrated recording engineers, producers and mixers of all time, winning 22 GRAMMY® Awards, the most recent for Paul McCartney’s “Kisses on the Bottom” in 2012. Over the course of his career, Schmitt has recorded and mixed more than 150 gold and platinum albums. His credits include: Henry Mancini, Sam Cooke, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Sammy Davis, Jr., Natalie Cole, Thelonious Monk, Elvis Presley, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, and many more.

Shevy Shovlin, a well-known recording industry professional in his own right, makes his big screen directorial debut with this 90-minute educational documentary film. “This project is near and dear to my heart not only because I am a huge fan and good friend of Al’s, but because I was there to witness the magic that he brings to his recording sessions. Our hope is that the film will not only inspire and educate a new generation of the recording industry, but pay homage to a recording legend through the unique challenge of recording the exciting genre of Big Band.”

The educational and inspirational film includes interviews with Schmitt’s longtime recording partner Steve Genewick as well as Chris Walden, Dave Pensado, Ryan Hewitt, Kenny Wild, Paula Salvatore, and a cameo appearance by engineer and mixer Andrew Scheps. Longtime friend and collaborator, Quincy Jones provides a poignant opening statement about the importance of “the person who captures the sound”.


The film is now available for streaming (with the All Access Pass) and for download for $24.99 at Groove3.com

 

 

Sylvia Massy on Lynda.com!

Sylvia Massy, author of Recording Unhinged: Creative and Unconventional Music Recording Techniques, is featured in a new video that is now available on Lynda.com. Click play on the video below to watch a preview and check out the full video in the link below!

>>Click here for full video<<

Recording Unhinged: Creative and Unconventional Music Recording Techniques dares you to “unlearn” safe record-making, to get out from behind the windshield, stick your head out the sunroof, and put the pedal to the metal! 

“There have been countless how-to books on sound recording, but this isn’t one of them. Sylvia Massy has a unique perspective on what makes musicians tick and how great recordings are created. This book is a brilliantly assembled insight into their world and is a cracking good read,” says Alan Parsons.

Recording Unhinged, Sylvia Massy and her cohort of celebrity music industry producers, engineers, and recording stars discard fixed notions about how music should be recorded. They explore techniques that fall outside the norm, yielding emotionally powerful, incredibly personal, gut-wrenching, and even scary recordings. With commentary by Hans Zimmer, Al Schmitt, Bruce Swedien, Jack Joseph Puig, Dave Pensado, Tchad Blake, Bob Clearmountain, Linda Perry, Michael Franti, Michael Beinhorn, Bob Ezrin, Geoff Emerick, and many others, this book includes the stories, tips, and advice that you won’t find in any other instructional manual. 

“Working with Sylvia on Undertow was an absolute pleasure. Whether recording the destruction of a piano with sledgehammers and shotguns, or dialing in killer drum sounds with the greatest mic choices, her approach was always fresh, fun, and never preconceived. This book will assuredly inspire some wacky recording sessions!”, praises Danny Carey (drummer from TOOL).

Recording Unhinged is also unique in its inclusion of exercises, diagrams, jokes, photos, and other images all related to more adventurous recording techniques. Throughout the book (and on the cover) are many full-colored illustrations – created by a musical genius – Massy herself! 

Simon Bradley speaks with Queen Online

Co-author of the book Brian May’s Red Special: The Story of the Home-made Guitar that Rocked Queen and the World, Simon Bradley, recently spoke with Queen Online to talk about the book and how it all came together. Read what they had to say in the excerpt below, and read the entire interview over at QueenOnline!


00119108OK, here comes the introduction – who are you and what do you do?

I’m Simon Bradley, 28 years old, Aries, wrestler of alligators, decimator of beers, breaker of hearts. I worked for Guitarist magazine for 17 years until the meaty fist of redundancy knocked me out of there in 2014 and I now earn a crust as a freelance guitar and music journalist. Actually, call it 28-ish.

How did you get to that position? Failed musician?! Ha, just teasing…

Believe it or not I saw a position on Guitarist being advertised, applied and got it. That was in 1996 and it’d never happen that way now: these days you need to be good. I worked in guitar retail in Birmingham for a time before that, during which I underwent my ‘I gotta make it in rock and roll!’ phase. I didn’t, needless to say (yep…failed!), but got a guitar tech gig with Brummie prog dudes Magnum out of it, which was reward in itself. And if you thought Mötley Crüe, or, indeed Queen at their decadent height, were hardcore on the road… let’s just leave it there.

Why are we chatting today, what is your Queen connection?

I am the co-author of the Red Special book with Brian. I’ve also interviewed him many times since 1998 and, if anyone remembers the 1999 National Music Show at Wembley Conference Centre where Brian chatted and played for over 2,000 gobsmacked fans, I was the sweating bag of nerves sat to his right on the stage who’d booked him for the event. I also tried out for one of the two guitar slots in the original We Will Rock You theatre band in 2001. I auditioned in front of both Brian and Roger, and got down to the last three… gah!

Pressing further on the Red Special book with Brian, how did that all originally come together?

It struck me one day that there wasn’t any sort of book about the Red Special and just decided to do something about it. I knew something about its construction and had fantasized about playing it for years, like most Queen fans I guess. I’ve been mates with Brian’s guitar tech Pete Malandrone for ages, so I rang him to gauge his interest and we both took it from there. My experience with publishing allowed me to formulate a workable concept fairly quickly and, after successfully pitching it to both Carlton Books and, then to Brian, we started it knocking it into shape.

The whole thing took over three years to put together and get onto the shelves, and I have to admit that I loved every single minute of the process. Brian has said subsequently that he’d long wanted to get a book together about the Red Special, and I’m flattered that he not only considered me suitably qualified to undertake such a task, but also liked the final result. In fact, in an email to me he described it as “…a lovely book…”, which did make me go a bit quiet and chin-wobbly.

Did you meet up regularly to discuss progress?

Not frequently, but regularly, yes. Brian, quite rightly, wanted everything to go through him so he needed to sign off on everything as we went. He was so busy, though, that it sometimes took him a while to get around to evaluating my enthusiastically-submitted copy and giving it the attention he felt it required, but he did give us unrestricted access to his huge photo archive, which was vital to the book’s exclusivity.

I’d run ideas past the likes of Pete, Greg Brooks and Richard Gray, and I was always able to drop Brian an email when I needed specific insight from him. He’d get back to me as quickly as he could and would provide the information I needed along with words of encouragement and appreciation.

We had one long brainstorming session in his office one afternoon where, after reading a chapter, he turned to me and said: “It’s not really working, is it?”. My head dropped as I was forced to agree with him, but we spent the next few hours bouncing ideas off each other and forcing the manuscript into the place we both wanted it to be. I was dimly aware that we were speaking to each other as equals of a sort and that I was working closely with the man who played that solo on Bohemian Rhapsody, who’d blown my tiny mind when I first saw Queen in 1979 and who’s still part of England’s greatest ever rock band. I’m very glad to say that he was never anything other than accommodating and positive during the whole process, even when things were getting a little fraught as deadlines loomed.

Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group Launches Backwing

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MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group, long the reader’s first choice for books on music, film, theater, television, and popular culture, is proud to announce the launch of backwing, a new digital community for creatives and fans.

Backwing will provide visitors with a vast array of information curated by and for aspiring and established actors, artists, authors, gurus, musicians, songwriters, producers, luminaries, entertainers, and, most broadly, fans. Every article on the site also serves as an open forum for those interested in a sustained discussion of any given topic.

“For nearly seven decades, Hal Leonard has provided consumers with the highest quality information available,” said Group Publisher John Cerullo. “We know who our readers are and what knowledge they crave. Backwing offers us a dynamic new means of reaching them, responding to their feedback, and cultivating conversations around our content in real time.”

Backwing is comprised of three main components. The first two—exclusive content pertaining to or drawn from HLPAPG products and a resource database populated with all manner of performing arts-related materials—will feature, in tandem with a vivacious comment section, multimedia created by and for HLPAPG authors and the publisher’s myriad industry associates.

“Since we reside at an intersection frequented by all manner of clientele, from nonprofits, educational organizations, and professional coalitions to gear, equipment, software, and instrument manufacturers, our contacts quite literally run the gamut of the performing arts world,” Cerullo explained. “We now aim to bring these brands together at backwing for the exclusive benefit of visitors to the site.

The third component, a direct-to-consumer sales portal featuring daily deals, giveaways, contests, and a slew of weekly/monthly special offers (many of which are also available to third-party vendors), can be found at backwingstore.com—an entirely separate domain.

Why two distinct websites? For the sake of every visitor’s experience, according to Cerullo: “Since backwing was designed with the end user foremost in mind, we’ve decided against tangling content and commerce. As such, multimedia content and resources are hosted at the deliberately noncommercial domain backwing.com while consumer products and services are restricted to the backwing Store.”

Thus, while backwing.com visitors may elect to peruse the site unencumbered by crass commercialism, backwingstore.com is always available to those who wish to explore HLPAPG’s catalog of more than 2,000 titles, take advantage of promotions featuring new releases and backlist titles, and enter contests to win fantastic prizes.

To get backwing off to a rousing start, HLPAPG is giving away great prizes for devotees of the performing arts, including an Epiphone guitar for music fans; a Rodgers + Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music package along with gift certificates to digitaltheatre.com for theater lovers; subscriptions to online streaming services for film and television buffs; and Met Opera on Demand Gift Subscriptions for classical music and opera enthusiasts.

HLPAPG encourages all performing arts enthusiasts, regardless of their skill level, industry status, or background, to join the creative conversation at its new digital hub. Welcome to backwing!