Monday, March 11, 2013

Little Man in the Studio

Over the past many years here in the Twin Cities, I've always wanted to record at Flowers. It's an uptown recording studio owned by Ed Ackerson. I've admired Ed's work and the many popular bands he's played in as well as his Susstone record label. I also had the chance to check out the studio a couple times and had tried to set something up in the past, but things hadn't quite worked out. Kris Johnson, who fixes amps and electronics at Twin Town Guitars, engineers at the studio. Timing had been right with him and me seeing each other out and about at shows and such, talking about the studio and the new music I've been writing. He's been a fan of Little Man and was always enthusiastic about the possibility of recording us. After a good conversation with Ed and KJ at The Triple Rock I really started to lean into make this happen.

The studio is one of the coolest I've ever been in. They have a very tall ceiling live drum room, all sorts of vintage gear, instruments and guitar amps, a Trident mixing board and a neat atrium decked with a fountain, plants and places to sit and relax in between takes. Lots of orange and yellow colors everywhere and kind of a 60's mod space age decor.

Not only is KJ in a guitar player couple local bands and is the go-to guy here for repairs, he also builds his own guitar amps and outboard gear (KJAudio). For me to be especially particular with guitar tones, I thought KJ would be a good fit for these recordings. We're using alot of his own gear and things are sounding great.

Our first session together was just him and me at his own modest studio tracking acoustic and electric guitars for four specific songs. A week later we got the band together, with Sean Gilchrist on drums and Brian Herb on bass. These guys have been with me for a couple years now. We've been doing very well with our live shows so we wanted to track live in the room all together. For most of the songs we tracked without headphones (an interesting process we hadn't really done before) to really play together and capture alot of that live energy. It felt as comfortable as a rehearsal. Our goal was to track 9 songs together as a band, bass, drums and one rhythm guitar and then to track bass and drums to the pre-recorded stuff we did the week before.

We all worked really hard on making this happen. It was a great success as we achieved that goal! The next step is to overdub more guitars and add in the vocals. These are very interesting songs. Some of them are songs the band has been playing live for a good while but have never recorded, some are a bit more acoustic, delicate with alot of background layered vocals and others are rocking real good. Very excited to be working on these. Can't wait for you to hear them, but that might take some time!

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Monday, March 4, 2013

Valentine's Haunt

It all started when I was up in Sauk Centre, MN for work. I stopped into the Main Street Gallery and saw that they were having an upcoming paranormal investigation. It was scheduled just a couple days after Valentine’s day so I signed us up as a gift to my wife Brigid. We’ve done a couple other investigations together in the past and enjoy investigating the unknown and learning some history.

The Gallery reports an antique doll’s arm being frequently moved on its own as well as being visited by a past owner and other sounds like money being counted in the basement as well as a ghost cat. It was also filmed for the My Ghost Story tv show. Across the street is the infamously haunted Palmer House Hotel, so I was able to get us room for the night there too. They report lots of activity in the lobby and basement with shadow people, physical touching, full bodied apparitions and all sorts of other activity in some of their rooms. This hotel has been on lots of national TV shows like Ghost Adventures. You can see some video here:

We arrived at the hotel just before 5pm and learned that there was going to be a tour of the basement at 5. Very excited about that as we really didn’t think we’d get that opportunity, so we rushed up stairs, dropped our bags in room 21 and headed back down for the tour.

The owner Kelly spoke about the history of the building and her experiences there and then took us down to the basement. My wife and I came prepared with an EMF detector, a voice recorder, camera and video camera. We got to sit in a couple of rooms in complete darkness and feel the energy. I could only see just a few feet in front of me. It was pretty neat to be in a dark, cold, room with six or so other people and be completely silent. It’s actually a very zen like experience as you sit and become fully aware of the moment, not letting yourself get caught up in any expectations or fears and feeling fully with your senses.

After a while of silence we asked many questions and we did get some significant hits on our EFM meters! There was also another room that we spent some time in and then got to wander the basement our selves. There is a spot behind the staircase were bones had been  found, so we checked that spot out. Brigid and the owner both saw an interesting flash of light in one of the rooms that really amazed them. Here is an EVP we caught: WARNING this sound bite contains adult language. An investigator says "whoa" and then voice phenomena of a drawn out "yes" is whispered just before the expletive.

My wife and I had to scoot out of there by 8pm for the investigation across the street at the gallery. The Main Street Gallery is an art gallery and antique store. Part of the building was a bank and for many years it was a pharmacy. We would be part of a group maybe 25 other investigators led by well known International Paranormal Society co-founder and author Adrian Lee.

We broke into 3 groups and investigated 3 rooms in the cold basement. We spent a good amount of time in each room with the lights off. First we sat in silence and then would begin to ask questions to whoever or whatever could be there with us. Another device we used was a "Frank's Box" (a special radio that scans through radio frequencies at a fast rate. When questions are asked directed at a spirit, there can be single word answers that come through.) Again we had our own personal devices along with us too.

While we sat in one particular room they call “the vault“, my wife felt a crowded feeling between her and the person next to her. She then began to feel pressure and then what felt like a hand wrap around her upper arm! When we all gathered upstairs to review our experiences, two people in the other groups had a similar experience sitting in that very same chair.

After over six hours of investigating, we headed back over to The Palmer House Hotel and sat in the lobby by ourselves. Soon we were joined by another investigating couple. It was really cool to be in the lobby at that hour (3:30am!) listening and watching for anything. There was definitely an odd vibe near the basement door by the bathrooms and hallway. There was also a small kids room with toys and stuffed animals upstairs (as a small child entity has been seen in the hotel) that I sat in by myself for a while but with no action of any kind.

The next morning knowing that our neighbors had left their room 22 (supposedly haunted by Raymond) I put my ear to the wall to see if I could hear anything. Nothing. Then I tried the “Shave and a Haircut” knock on the wall and unmistakably got the “two bits” response back coming from next door! “Shave and a Haircut! Shave and a Haircut!” I yelled to Brigid in the bathroom all excited. We tried to duplicate the experience but with no luck. Soon after that we checked out and drove home quite exhausted. All and all a very fun time for us. We will definitely get back up there in the future for another look around.