We all had a great time together In the basement making tie-dyes and other art projects including a huge, psychedelic fluorescent mural on a large canvas. We also had free-form musical jams with whoever cared to join in. One Thanksgiving the late great Irving Kane joined us on his trombone!
At one point during this period we had two drumsets. Also two bass players (one slap and one fretless), keyboard synthesizers, a guitar synthesizer, electric guitars, and an army of djembes! We even did an event at a local ‘underground’ club. It was truly amazing. The jams were free-flowing adventures that would start simply.
Perhaps a simple rhythm or a single note would be the beginning which would build as we added a part here and there. Eventually, a melodic line would reveal itself and help guide us in a direction. Sometimes beautiful, sometimes scary, and sometimes a cacophonic mess of chaos, but always interesting! Unfortunately, there are no recordings from this time. There are a couple of photos from the gig though.
Eventually, we started a small demo studio in the huge basement of Donna’s house overlooking Nashville’s famous Music Row. Our new friend Brad, whom our super pup, Sugar Ray, knew before me, was a guitarist and music biz lawyer. He had been a big part of the jamming in the basement scene. He also owned recording gear. Having no place to set it all up, and since we had a basement with 14-foot ceilings and no gear to record with, the match was made!
We went to work building the control booth with double slanted glass. We also reconstructed the main room as a room inside a room to baffle the noise from disturbing the neighbors. The sound was quite good. We eventually named it “Home Recording” and made a nice business card to try and round up some customers. It was a good demo studio for a fair price in a city full of expensive studios.
Lance was recording often, happy as a pig in mud. Donna was enjoying a happy life with interesting people all around. We even got a few customers and did a fine job for them. Lance got one job creating music for a theatrical production in Minnesota from a cassette of someone humming the song ideas into their cassette recorder. One of the songs, “the Sheep Shearing Song”, still haunts him to this day.
Divisions of the Basement
The construction of the control room was… well, maybe first I should explain the layout of the basement. As stated previously, it was in three sections. One side was Donna’s office which was originally an apartment. it had a door to the backyard and was quite large with a living room, bedroom, and bathroom. But she had repurposed it into an office where she, and her two employees did their bookkeeping magic. One employee was a girl that she helped despite her history with the law. She was running with some truly wild folks. Her boyfriend gave her an Uzi one Christmas, but that’s another story.
The other main part of the basement was previously used as a painting studio by her ex. Then it became a tye-dye workshop with all the kids, and eventually the recording studio. There was a laundry room under the stairs and a back storage room area that housed the furnace for the house.
There used to be an old coal-burning furnace but it had been replaced with a modern furnace making the coal chute and bins redundant. Arthur’s paintings had been stored in the old coal bins which had been cleaned out long ago so when we built the studio, she moved all the paintings to the storage room.
The Secret Room
We covered that vacated bin space with a cabinet/bookshelf that ran the whole length of the back wall of the control room. This created a room behind the control room. What to do with a hidden room? We made an entrance door through one of the cabinets with a secret sliding back panel. There, unbeknownst to anyone, we put reflective panels, installed a high-pressure sodium light, and a metal halide light, and built a room to grow some lovely ladies for our personal use. We weren’t into selling. We just wanted to supply ourselves with some prime bud!
“I don’t want to know.”
One time, Donna, after finishing a little cultivation work, was backing out of the cabinet as her daughter came down the stairs to the basement. I tried to head the daughter off to no avail. She saw Donna’s rear end back out of the cabinet with the light that looked like something out of the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. Her eyes widened, her jaw dropped and she said, “I don’t want to know.” She then turned around and quickly walked back upstairs. We never spoke of it again.
Part 3, soon to come!