Monday, May 27, 2013

Tim Hockenberry

Earlier this May, artist Tim Hockenberry visited the studio to record some new material. A high-caliber session full of big-name musicians including Matt Chamberlain (drums), Nolan Gasser (Grand Piano, Hammond B3, Rhodes), Sebastian Steinberg (upright bass), Ryan Lerman (electric guitar, acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin), and of course, Tim Hockenberry himself (lead/background vocals, grand piano, electric piano, rhodes). This session was engineered by Oz Fritz, who was assisted by Matt Wright and Travis Strain. Fritz was also responsible for mixing, alongside Mark "Mooka" Rennick and Nolan Gasser, both producing. 

(From left to right): Oz Fritz, Tim Hockenberry, Nolan Gasser, and Mark "Mooka" Rennick in Studio C

A semi-finalist in America's Got Talent and featured lead vocalist for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Tim Hockenberry has been an active participant in the Bay Area's music scene for nearly twenty years. Already an accomplished trombonist, he moved back to Northern California in the early 90's and began teaching himself piano. Often compared to Ray Charles and Tom Waits, Hockenberry's soulful voice retains a natural quality that is both contemplative and expressive. He has performed over a hundred live shows with the Mickey Hart band as the frontman and keyboardist, and can be enjoyed at some of the most sought-after venues in the Bay Area. Tim now lives back in his hometown of Mill Valley with his four children and continues to produce and perform new material. Keep an eye (and ear) out for his next album. 

(above) Tim Hockenberry in the legendary "Waits Room". 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Green Music Center Grand Opening Featuring Nolan Gasser

This past sunday saw the grand opening of the world class Green Music Center at Sonoma State University. The $145 million dollar facilities main focus is a 1,400 seat concert hall featuring precision engineered, world class acoustics, named the Joan and Sanford Weil Hall. This unique concert environment has the ability to open the entire rear wall to lawn seating for a total of 10,000 additional guests.

Longtime friend and client of Prairie Sun Nolan Gasser was selected to debut his new 10 minute musical piece titled "Sonoma Overture". The overture is intended to transport the listener through all of the wonders of Sonoma county. Nolan has used Prairie Sun Live to provide remote recording and live sound reinforcement for many live performances. Nolan has also been a regular face around the studio mixing and tracking various projects here at Prairie Sun. Some of the projects worked on by Nolan at Prairie Sun include work for the Oakland Symphony on "The World Music Project", the Napa Valley Symphony doing a presentation titled "American Festivals" featuring actor / narrator Craig T Nelson in collaboration with Robert Trent Jones (world renowned golf course designer and poet). Nolan has also been contracted by other Prairie Sun clients for arranging and composing on various jazz projects. 

Prairie Sun would like to congratulate Sonoma State on the wonderful new venue and we would also like to pay homage to one of Sonoma counties great musical talents Nolan Gasser. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Kanaga System Krush and Chris Berry

Prairie Sun recently hosted a mix for Grammy winning world music artist Chris Berry. Our favorite fair trade music label Kanaga System Krush brought the project to be mixed by engineer Oz Fritz. The story behind Chris Berry's music is unique and provides a compelling backdrop for the listener.

Chris Berry was born in California and moved to Africa at age 19 with his musical mentor Titos Sampa. Chris became immersed in Zimbabwean culture and music for over a decade studying mbira (thumb piano) and the ngoma drum. Berry has been open about his mission to be a healer and a bridge maker through music. Chris has been one of the first western artists to be accepted in the South African culture as a true mbira master. The music you will find on the upcoming album follows his mission of being a "bridge maker through music" blending western music pop sensibility / production with traditional time tested South African instrumentation and musical inspiration.

Speaking with K.S.K founder Aja Salvatore about what the future of world music was eye opening. The future will not be just about importing indigenous music but will be more of the Chris Berry paradigm of fusion of culture and style. This will truely create world music in the sense it will bring the world together in a place that is usually not easly accessible through just one style of music. A quote from Michael Kang of the string cheese incident says it well.


The basic tracks were recorded at the K.S.K recording studio with a film crew in tow. Be sure to keep an eye out for in the studio videos we guarantee there will be sights and sounds that you will want to see. Keep in touch for more on Chris Berry and Kanaga System Krush.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Guitars, basses, drums, and amps line the walls of studio C as Rogue Wave searches for the perfect sounds for their new album being recorded at Prairie Sun studios. The band, fronted by Zach Rogue (vocals, guitar) along with Pat Spurgeon (drums, keys, vocals), have been working with Grammy engineer/producer John Congleton (Modest Mouse, Marilyn Manson, U2) for the past week tracking basics and overdubs. Besides a few guitar, key, and vocal overdubs, the majority of the album is being tracked live in the Prairie room in studio C. The band has taken an interest in the legendary acoustics of the Waits room, and have been tracking vocals in there, letting the sound of the room shine through with the vocals. From slide guitar to old Casio keyboards, the band experiments with anything and everything that can add depth to their sound. Rogue Wave has decided to track there basic tracks to 2' tape on the Studer A820. Everything has been running smooth and productivity has been soaring.

This is Rogue Wave's fifth full-length studio album, currently being funded independently. The band has been on multiple labels, including Brushfire Records (owned by Jack Johnson), and Sub Pop Records. Hailing from Oakland California and Rogue Wave got their start in 2002, the band is often labeled as indie rock, but is influenced by a wide variety of musical genres. As of today, the band has a week left to finish up their record. After it is completed, John and the band will head over to John's personal studio, Elmwood Recording in Dallas Texas to mix the album on his own Neve 53 series console. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Gaby Velazquez

Stepping into the doors of studio C at Prairie Sun recording, one can hear the diverse music of Gaby Velazquez vibrating throughout the walls, amidst a warm summer day full of good music and great vibes. Joined by drummer Ian Herman (Mikey Hart, Tracorum), bassist Mark Calderon (Tracorum, Wycleff Jean), and engineer Matt Wright, the group has been finishing up on the basics of Gaby’s upcoming third album. Prairie Sun has played a vital role in all of Gaby’s releases, as his previous two albums were mixed by Oz Fritz and Matt Wright here in studio A. Drummer Ian, along with bassist Mark were also featured on Gaby’s previous albums, resulting in a tight sound marked with confidence and experience, along with the signature sound of Prairie Sun’s live room and vintage Neve console and gear.

Gaby, born in Puerto Rico, has lived in the bay area for six years, and has recently moved down to southern California where he was raised. His last album, Costume Ball, can be found on his website, He will return to Prairie Sun later this month to complete tracking his new album. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The "Smile" Project

If Prairie Sun's studio B walls could talk they would tell a tale of a jazz project called "Smile" that took place this past week. Steve Puleo (vocals) has decided to honor to his mother Jean Puleo through songs that inspired him from his childhood. Jean Puleo was a successful jazz singer in New York who sang into her 70s. Our condolences go out to Steve for the loss of his mother the past year. To pay homage to her not only are they doing songs that she was familiar with but the band will be featuring a clip of her singing on one of the tracks. To bring three generations of family together through song Steve's daughter will also be singing.


The band is comprised of fantastic players. On drums is long time mentor of Steve's and a bay area legend James Levi who played with Herbie Hancock for many years. Composer Jerome Gilmer (piano) was instrumental in bringing this project to fruition.  Terry Miller (bass) was introduced to Steve through Jerome and really helped round out the ensemble.  Randy Vincent (guitar) completed the core of the group, Randy has played with Dizzy Gillespie and Steve Smith just to name a few. The musicianship and emotion of the players was something to behold. 

The group will be returning later this week for Sax overdubs with Rob Roth and some flugelhorn work by Fletch Wiley. The performances captured the classic vibe of Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra and still maintained a humble down to earth atmosphere. The project is set to go out for duplication in mid November and there are talks of heading to Japan for a short tour. We will be sure to keep you posted on all the updates on the project simply titled "Smile"

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Orbo & The Long Shots

This past year we had the pleasure of working with Orbo & The Longshots. Orbo and his crew traveled to Prairie Sun with grammy engineer/producer Erick Jaskowiak (Alison Krauss, Crooked Still) to track there 5th full length album. Last summer Orbo & The Longshots made the long trek from Norway to hold up in studio C for about two weeks . Over the course of there stay, the band had a camera crew in tow capturing all of the behind the scenes gold.  

The upcoming album is slated to be titled "Prairie Sun" we are honored to have such a fantastic album bare our namesake. While we anxiously await the release of the full length album the band has been kind enough to put out a small EP of bonus tracks before the full album is released. The EP of bonus tracks is aptly titled "Prairie Moon" here is a quote from Orbo about the itunes release. "It was burning hot so we decided to work mostly during the night. We cut these four tracks beneath a big, fat and yellow harvest moon." The Prairie Moon EP is only available as a digital purchase through itunes you can get your copy here.