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.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Eric Gales With Dunlop TV

Released this Tuesday on Blues Bureau International, Transformation is the next logical step in Eric Gales’ prolific career, deeply centered in the blues but played with the edge and aggression of a young guitar hero. His masterful guitar and vocal performances on the record are sure to please loyal fans of blues/rock, as guitarists/singers of this quality and intensity are few and far between.

With Blues Bureau International’s legacy as a label that publishes superior blues rock recordings, Gales adds his name to a list of legends that includes Rick Derringer, Pat Travers, Chris Duarte, and Leslie West among others.

Gales took a break from recording at Prairie Sun Recording Studios this past May to chat with Dunlop TV about his influences and the Dunlop gear he uses. Check it out below.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Radio Moscow

It may not shock some of our regular readers, but we're going to confess it anyway - we love vintage gear at Prairie Sun! Mics, boards, guitars, amps, drums, you name it - there's no denying these old toys are fun. So anytime someone offers us the chance to put some of this tech to use in seeking out new takes on retro sounds, we're chomping at the bit. The new record from Radio Moscow offered Prairie Sun and engineer Jason D'Ottavio just such an opportunity - record analog, mix analog, master analog (the record was not digitized until mastering) and explore the sound of new/old rock under the direction of band founder Parker Griggs. Radio Moscow is now apart of the Alive Natural Sound record label. The new record will be the band's second self-produced release (Radio Moscow's debut self-titled was produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys), and features Parker on guitars, drums, and vocals and Zach Anderson on bass (drummer Cory Berry rounds out the touring trio). Mastered by resident engineer Tim Gennert, the record is due for release in the near future - keep tabs at  

Radio Moscow's sound has evolved over the past few years into a raw, `60s-style, psychedelic-aggressive blues with a modern take on break-downs and tempo changes. We cannot speak highly enough about the artistic integrity of this band, from the recording process to there stunning instrument collection. Parker tracked the drums on a vintage Ludwig kit. Zach's bass rig was comprised of a monster vintage Ampeg, a Gibson Atlas and a short scale Electro style bass. 

The guitars and amps used were too many to list but included vintage Supro, Gibson, Alamo and other off-beat gems. Parker used a few different microphones for the vocals, at times running through a tape echo, often through a Leslie cabinet or an old Gibson reverb tank. Everything was recorded to our Studer 2" - 24 tracks at 15 ips via the BBC Neve in Studio C. The mix on the SSL in Studio A was printed to our 1/2" ATR with flux-dynamic heads running at 15 ips. The last stop on this period accurate project was the mastering. All of the mastering was done real time running through Sontec eqs and API and Shadow Hills mastering compressors. All crossfades and transitions between song where performed manually with a tape echo and distortion pedals. At the end of the mastering chain the project made it's one and only conversion to digital in the Seqouia mastering program, without the use of any digital plugins. There are plans to release the album on vinyl, paying respect to the audiophile who can hear all the vintage love!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Beats Antique at Prairie Sun

Forged from the dwindling remains of antiquated culture and revitalized by the surge of a digital era comes Beats Antique. Their music is rock-solid, but the journey to where they are today was not always as concrete. The group, David, Tommy, and Zoe, first began collaborating during a production project and sound design for a belly dance company. They produced one album for the company, then another, and before long they were DJing shows and playing live. Most recently, they played the Bonnaroo music festival in Manchester, TN.

David began his music career at California Institute of the Arts studying world music and composition. His passion is for creative music, specifically fusing groups of instruments together that might otherwise remain separate. Tommy studied everything from drums and film scoring/arranging to songwriting and producing at Berklee College of Music. He brings his background of rock drums, jazz and marching band ambience into their eclectic works.

Their sound fuses authentic drums with punchy brass, string quartets, and heavy synths. They hope to release their upcoming album at the beginning of October. Their work is completely self-produced by David, Tommy, and Zoe; however, they recently had the opportunity to both record live instruments and mix a few songs right here at Prairie Sun with engineer Isha Erskine. While Tommy and David play much of the record, they also proudly feature horn and string players from the San Francisco Bay Area on a number of their tracks. Tommy’s extensive drum background coupled with David’s ear for unique sound makes for quite an interesting recording session. The day started with a drum set; but by the end of the session they had procured a set of conga drums, frying pans, baking trays, and plastic jugs filled with rocks. It was an eye-opening experience: music is everywhere.

From this point onward, the band moves on to touring. After finishing their summer on the east coast in West Virginia and Vancouver, they’ll be playing at Lollapalooza in Chicago, IL and Earthdance Music Festival in Solano County, CA. They plan to finish their full record in between shows while they are on the road. Beats Antique is a triple threat that truly enjoys their work and squeezes every bit of their life force into the music.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Jason Bodlovich Group

           Over the weekend of May 28&29, Prairie Sun had the pleasure of working with North Bay Guitarist Jason Bodlovich.  The Jason Bodlovich group set up shop in both the live room of studio C and the adjoining Waits room to track drums, bass, and guitar over the span of two sessions during the weekend.  
            Behind the drum kit was James Stafford, a former Jazz student with a wealth of Bay Area notoriety through fifteen some-odd years of gigging.  James brought in a great set up with a neon Ludwig Vista Lite drum kit and Zildjian K-custom series cymbals. Steve Froberg completes the rhythm section on bass guitar, playing a custom blue-green Mike Lull jazz model that sounded warm and milky while playing clean, fat and round when he stomped on the distorted fuzz.  Jason has been playing with James on drums for a while now; they’ve been gigging together for about 5 years now and Steve was added to the bill around a year ago. 
            The chemistry of the group was undeniable.  The trio set up and quickly found the tones they were looking for.  James managed to lay back in the pocket while simultaneously driving the backbeat of the groove, which is not always an easy task in the studio.  Dynamic drumming combined with Steve’s bass line embellishments on the melody of Bodlovich’s guitar progressions made for an extremely full-sounding trio. 
            Bodlovich brought along friend and colleague Robin Livingston to engineer and later mix the weekend’s session.  Watching Livingston simultaneously capture the sound that the guys created while coaching them on what takes brought out the purest form of their musical voices was a great model of what we like to see from audio engineering at PSR.  No tentative date has been set for this release: Bodlovich eluded to the fact that it would be more left up to his mastering engineer as to when it would be finished.  For further information on Livingston’s audio and visual media work, go to  
            Jason’s technical abilities were amazing and still extremely soulful, effortlessly galloping over Stafford’s kick and snare with polyrhythmic solos.  Different colorful landscapes of funk, jazz, and world music are rife throughout the recordings that were captured at Prairie Sun.  Bodlovich said that it was his intention for the improvisational aspect of their music to be highlighted during the session; the mic techniques really grabbed the vibe of the room and the live tracking environment as well.  And with such talented and practiced pieces, the Bodlovich session is a testament to the ‘rehearse more, edit less’ mantra of the studio.  More of Bodlovich’s extensive collaborations can be seen at

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Grateful Dead Mixing Europe 72' Tour at Prairie Sun!!

Prairie Sun is proud to announce a historic mixing project taking place on the farm. The Grateful Dead and Rhino Records have decided to mix the entire Europe 72' tour to be released as a box set this fall. This legendary group of recordings is being mixed by Jeffrey Norman who has been the primary mix engineer for the Grateful Dead for the past 15 years. Rhino Records has been kind enough to release a tease of some of the audio mixed here at Prairie Sun. An exclusive download of the previously unreleased performance of “Playing In The Band” from the April 14, 1972 show in Copenhagen, Denmark. Clocking in at over 11 minutes, the song was recorded at the Tivolis Koncertsal, which was the Dead’s first paying gig in front of foreign language crowd. Download it and stay tuned for more surprises!

Because you dared dream this might happen one day… Because you went down to the Gypsy Woman and offered up your first-born to try to make it happen… Because there are enough passionate Dead Heads at Rhino/GD who thought it might be cool for this to happen… It’s happening! Coming in September is a gargantuan EUROPE ’72 MEGA-BOX SET containing ALL 22 SHOWS of what is arguably the greatest tour the Grateful Dead ever played, on a whopping and clearly cosmic 72 DISCS (over 70 hours of music!). Bet you didn’t see that comin’!
Really, at this point we probably don’t need to lay on too much hype about how wonderful the music is: Chances are, if you’re even considering buying a copy of this enormous box, you already know how amazing the Dead’s tour of Europe in April and May of 1972 was. To review briefly, though, the Dead’s first tour outside of North America took them to all sorts of historic and unusual venues in England, Denmark, West Germany, France, Holland and even tiny Luxembourg. Many members of the Dead “family” came along on what was really an extended working vacation that was designed to both expose the Dead to new audiences and also reward the band for their unlikely conquest of America during the preceding two years. As a hedge against the costs of the nearly two-month trip, the Dead’s label, Warner Bros., paid for the band to lug around a 16-track recorder to capture the entire tour… and we’re glad they did!
This was a band at the top of its game, still ascending in the wake of three straight hit albums — Workingman’s DeadAmerican Beauty and the live Grateful Dead (“Skull & Roses”). It had been a year since the lineup had gone to its single-drummer configuration, six months since Keith Godchaux had been broken in as the group’s exceptional pianist, and this marked the first tour to feature Donna Godchaux as a member of the touring band. There was a ton on new, unreleased material that came into the repertoire in the fall of ’71 (after “Skull & Roses” was out) and during the spring of ’72, including “Tennessee Jed,” “Jack Straw,” “Mexicali Blues,” “He’s Gone,” “Comes A Time,” “Ramble on Rose,” “One More Saturday Night,” “Black-Throated Wind,” “Looks Like Rain” and Pigpen’s “Chinatown Shuffle,” “The Stranger (Two Souls in Communion)” and “Mr. Charlie.” (Sadly, this was Pigpen’s final tour.) All those future classics were interspersed with songs from the aforementioned “hit” albums—such as “Uncle John’s Band,” “Brokedown Palace,” “Cumberland Blues,” “Casey Jones,” “Sugar Magnolia,” “Bertha,” “Not Fade Away,” et al — and then were topped off by loads of big jamming numbers — the Europe ’72 tour produced spectacular versions of “Dark Star,” “The Other One” “Playing in the Band,” “Truckin’,” “China Cat Sunflower” > “I Know You Rider,” “Good Lovin’,” “Lovelight” and even the early Pig chestnut “Caution.” And that’s leaving out a truckload of other tunes, too! There wasn’t a clunker show in the bunch, and many are acknowledged today as classics. No doubt you already have some favorites.
Through the years, there have been a few releases of material from the Europe tour—starting with the 3-album Europe ’72 which knocked our socks off in the fall of that year, and followed many years later by material from a pair of German shows and the fantastic 4-CD Stepping Out, culled from the group’s eight shows in England. Incredibly, though, only one full show from the tour has come out previously: the excellent 4/24 concert in Dusseldorf, Germany, released as Rockin’ the Rhein in 2004.
Until now, that is. Jeffrey Norman, who has been the primary mixer of Dead archival multi-track material for the past 15 years (Fillmore West ’69Ladies and Gentlemen…,Rockin’ the RheinNightfall of Diamonds, etc.) has spent many months toiling over the 16-track masters from the tour, and will continue working on the mixes through the Winter and Spring, employing the high-tech Plangent Processes transfer and restoration tools, trying to get every show to sound “just exactly perfect” (as Bob Weir says) for this release. You might think you’ve heard that intense “Dark Star” > “Sugar Mag” > “Caution” from Copenhagen, but I guarantee you’ve never heard it sound this alive! Mastering to HDCD specs is two-time Grammy-winning engineer David Glasser of Airshow Mastering. Needless to say, all the songs that turned up on previous Europe compilations will be appear in their proper show contexts, and in the case of songs from the Europe ’72 album, without overdubs that were added later (where possible).
So dig deep, raid the penny jar, take a weekend job at Jack-in-the-Box, beg your kindly ol’ grandma for some of your inheritance early… Yes, it’s an extravagance, but jeez, you (or your loved one) deserve it! This is way cool.
This article was written and posted by please visit the site for more info and news updates on the project.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Guitar Player Magazine Featuring Johnny Hiland at Prairie Sun

This article was written by Matt Blackett for Guitar Player Magazine. We recently had Johnny Hiland out to the farm for what has turned out to be a fantastic multi genre guitar virtuoso album that is sure to amaze. We will keep you posted with a release date and some great footage of Johnny in the studio. 

I was psyched to get an email from legendary talent scout, producer, and shred historian Mike Varney informing me that Johnny Hiland is making a record for Shrapnel. Not only that, but he’s cutting tracks in the Bay Area and I was cordially invited to swing by Prairie Sun studios, chat with Mike and Johnny, and listen to some tracks. So that’s what I did yesterday, one of those days that reminds me that I have a cool job. I drove up to Prairie Sun, pulled into the driveway that is bordered by a big lawn full of chickens scampering about, and walked into the studio to hear some chicken pickin’.
Varney said that they were mixing one of the album’s heavier tunes, but that the record contained a wide variety of countrified playing. I settled in and they rolled the track, which started with a spooky, Sonny Landreth-style quivering slide chord. Just as I was getting used to that, a monstrous low-string gliss heralded the arrival of the full band, with Hiland, bassist Stu Hamm, and drummer Jeremy Colson absolutely crushing the dropped-D main riff. Over the course of the next few minutes I was treated to Hiland’s slippery slide work, spot-on bends, clangy open strings, and insane chops. The tune itself was full of memorable and hummable hooks and the two solos—one with slide one without—were super tasty, even with the mind-blowing technique. At one point Varney, the guy who discovered Yngwie Freaking Malmsteen, said, “Can this guy play, or what?”
A real treat was when they called up another mix, muted the lead guitar, and had Johnny play over the tracks. I don’t want to shock anyone, but it was really, really good. They not only allowed but encouraged me to shoot video of it all, so stay tuned for that. After, Hiland was cool enough to demonstrate some of his picking, double-stops, and what might have been the most impressive playing of the day: his multi-string bends. Once again, I got it on video but I don’t know if I have the wherewithal to transcribe these licks and get them into the print mag so no promises there. When I post the video I’ll invite any fearless guitar teacher to take a stab at them.
Varney says the record should hit in August, with a tour to follow. My prediction is this album will turn your head around. This blog is just a tease. Look for video and a full interview as we get closer to release time. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with the question I asked Johnny Hiland: “Damn. Why don’t you try playing something good?”

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Eric McFadden Experience

Guitar sensation Eric McFadden recently graced the grounds here at Prairie Sun with his signature blend of both old school and contemporary rock n' roll. Gearing up for a tour of Europe this spring, the Eric McFadden Trio laid down some killer tracks for their latest untitled release - a rock blues album with plenty of ear-shredding guitar. 

For those who may be unfamiliar, Eric McFadden is a fiery virtuoso of the electric guitar. A native of Albuquerque, he has taken on many side projects throughout his illustrious career including George Clinton, the P-Funk All Stars and more. Today he can be found touring with Stockholm Syndrome and the Faraway brothers. While his last release was a mellow, acoustic joint (with violin, cello etc) this record promises to turn up the heat and rock hard. Louder, heavier, and absolutely saturated with talented musicians ready to blow the roof off Prairie Sun.

For this visit to Prairie Sun, the trio consisted of Eric McFadden, Dave Schools(Widespread Panic, Jerry Joseph, The Stockholm Syndrome, Gov't Mule.)  on bass and Paulo Baldi (Cake, Les Claypools Fancy Band, Deadweight and the Faraway Brothers) rockin the drums. If thats not enough, the album features numerous guest appearances by some of the best in the industry. Holding down a propulsive slap-funk bass line was none other than Norwood Fisher (Fishbone, Mr. Green All-Stars). Wally Ingram (Eric Burdon, Stockholm Syndrome, Sheryl Crow, Tracy Chapman, Jackson Browne) stepped in and played drums on a number of songs, while  additional guitar was provided by Dave Catching (Eagles of Death Metal, Queens of the Stone Age, Tex and the Horseheads). And what's a rock blues album without a little B3? Northern California legend Chip Roland can be heard  conquering festivals across the country with his notable jam-rock band, Zero.

We're all really excited about this project and we hope you are too. This much talent under one roof is either going to result in magic or a structure fire - and we haven't seen any smoke.

Look for more on this release by visiting Eric McFaddens website at

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Anadel at Prairie Sun

Technically speaking, Napa based “Anadel” has only been a group for the last 6 months. However, this family band has been jamming out tunes for much longer. Elements of this home schooling family of 9 descended on Prairie Sun last week with one goal in mind: make an album – a good album. Focused around singer/ songwriter JT Baily, the group also features his father Tom Baily on drums, brother Steven on keys, and sister Keri on violin. Although not technically family, the group added close friends Andrew Arcadi on electric guitar and David Parker on bass. Frustrated with never being able to record those ever-so-epic living room jam sessions, they decided to take the next big step. 
Anadel has put in a lot of hard work over the last week, recording their first full-length album “Ver Le Sud” or flying south.  They plan on releasing the record in March followed by a small collage tour this summer. The group is looking into touring with local songwriter Justin Dai, who has used daughter Keri’s undeniable mastery of the violin on nearly all his recordings. In fact, Bravo Max’s manager Scott Herbert was so impressed with her abilities that he asked her to record the violin part on the track “Hey Jane” on Dogs Light. In return, Anadel recorded some nifty accordion parts courtesy of Bravo Max’s own Ellie Stevens.
We all know how difficult it can be to work with family and friends, but in the case of Anadel we see that it is their greatest asset. Talented nonetheless, their unrivaled level of community shines through in their music. Prairie Sun head engineer Matt Wright took a very active role producing this project. He worked with the band from start to finish, imparting his own unmistakable level of professionalism. The album has turned out better then anyone ever expected, and we’re sure that “Anadel” will forever change the way you think about family bands.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bravo, Max!

Dallas based folk rock band “Bravo, Max!” is spending the week here at Prairie Sun recording and mixing their first full length album titled “Dogs Light”. The band originally formed in 2006 as the brain child of singer/songwriter Johnny Beauford and bassist Ben Gastright. In 2007 they added guitarist Steve Vanderheide, followed by Bob Loshelder on rhythm guitar, Eli Staford on drums, and Ellie Stevens on accordion in 2009. The now 6 piece ensemble has firmly established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the Dallas music scene.
With Dallas buzzing, the group decided it was time to make the cross country trek to Prairie Sun, recruiting highly sought after band manager/ executive producer, Scott Herbert. Scott has worked with a number of incredible acts over the last 30 years, including Ben Harper, Nels Klien, Norton Wisdom, Pat McDonald, Blues Traveler, Eric Mcfadden, Pearl Jam, and Wally Ingram on Alektorophobia. He was mentored by Tex Schram, owner and GM of the Dallas Cowboys and Bill Graham of legendary production company Bill Graham Presents. Also in tow is co-producer Jonathan Jackson, who produced the bands latest EP “German Chocolate Cake” at his home studio in Dallas.
This album was recorded live to 24 track tape with none other than Grammy award winning engineer and producer Oz Fritz. Recent projects include names like Elvis Costello, Les Claypool, Buckethead, and many, many more. Bravo, Max! has the complete package- stellar songwriting, loads of talent, and an entourage of the highest caliber. We’re all very excited to hear the final product. For more on Bravo Max, visit their website at

Thursday, January 6, 2011

From Pakistan to Prairie Sun

We are excited to announce that the legendary Pakistani tabla player Dildar Hussain was just in the studio with his son, Abrar, mixing their newest album. A student of tabla legend Ustad Alla Rakha (Ravi Shankar), Dildar is regarded as one of the top tabla players in the world. He has been a member of Nusrat Ali Khan’s Qawwali party since its formation nearly 30 years ago, and played side by side with Nusrat until his death in 1997. Qawwali, the devotional music of Sufis, had little international exposure before they recorded several albums on the Real World label, including the soundtrack of Hollywood blockbuster “Dead Man Walking”. Today you might see him accompanying renowned Qawwali singer Rahat Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

Dildar does not play the traditional tabla, which is most commonly associated with Hindustani classical music. His non-traditional tabla configuration has the jori as the treble and the dhamma as the bass. Although rare, they are used primarily in North and West Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Kashmir. This combination creates a sound that is far deeper and warmer than the traditional bayan.

This project was coordinated and produced by Aja Salvatore, who is primarily known for his work with the top musicians of Mali on his label, Kanaga System Krush. Dedicated to showcasing the finest musical talent from all over the world, Aja operates KSK Records under fair trade principals. This means that, as opposed to traditional labels, a large portion (40%) of sales go directly to the artist. To learn more about KSK Records, visit their website here:

World-class talent needs a world-class engineer. Oz Fritz (Primus, Buckethead, Tom Waits just to name a few) fit the bill for this project. With such a star-studded roster, expect great things to come.