Toronto, Saturday May 26th, 2012: The city of Toronto has a rich musical heritage. From its iconic famous sons Neil Young and Robbie Robertson to the birthplace of bands like The Band, Barenaked Ladies, Broken Social Scene and Rush, to venues like the El Mocambo where the Stones recorded Love You Live and studios like Number 9, Phase One and Kensington Sound that have played host to scores of international acts from Van Morrison to James Brown, Toronto is the New York of Eastern Canada, the place that everyone gravitates to; the place where everyone needs to be.
The Level 2 Master Class Training Session hosted and produced by Canadian distributor Global Music Depot, settled on a new downtown recording facility, Noble Street studios, tucked away off trendy Queen Street. Noble Street boasts a superb live room, a killer SSL 4056 E/G desk in Studio A’s roomy control room, and a nice comfy lounge to seat the Gold ticket holders.
The day kicked off with both Gold and Platinum (control room) Attendees packed into the lounge for the welcome; Alan going round the room to ascertain exactly who he would be interacting with during the day. Toronto drew an excellent mix of people from TV professionals to educators to students—from green-and-keen to grey-and-gracious.
MCTS Toronto featured acclaimed Canadian prog rockers, The David Barrett Trio, fresh from an album produced by mentor Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson and engineered by Richard Chycki, who was also in attendance. Today the band was augmented by guest vocalist Paul Reid and keyboard player Douglas Romanow, the latter who runs a very sophisticated production facility within the studio complex.
In time-honored fashion the session began with playback of the demo. Alan nodded sagely as the song’s tale of blood and guts unfolded. Interesting! Alan wondered if perhaps a less gloomy word than ‘death’ might be contemplated in the chorus? Death ‘in the afternoon’ was then explained to reference Hemingway; the song’s title and theme looking at bullfighting and the famous matador, Belmonte. “Ah, right,” said Alan. “Well I’m not going to interfere with that then!”
The track features a dramatic staccato hits section and Alan, Attendees and band discussed whether there might be a better placement for them. It wasn’t long before a general consensus for a more concise arrangement was reached and everyone then ventured out into the studio to look at drummer Sascha Tukatsch’s kit to discuss drum miking.
The basic tracks for Belmonte were being recorded live with Tukatsch and bassist Jason Farrar plus Dave Barrett and keyboardist Douglas Romanow playing as a band. Farrar’s bass was being DI-ed, as essentially, were Romanow’s collection of beautiful ancient and modern keys comprising MiniMoog, Crumar string machine, Hartmann Neuron, and Yamaha CP80. Barrett’s rhythm guitar [played on an Epiphone double neck] was snugly tucked away in an adjoining iso booth, powering out via a pair of Mack amps [1 x Skyraider and 1 x Heatseeker] further enhanced by Pigtronix Fat Drive, Echolution, and Envelope Phaser.
Once the basic track was recorded, overdubs proceeded. Romanow added some B3, and Barrett, switching to his Gibson ES175, unleashed a killer guitar solo.
Paul Reid revealed himself to be a highly accomplished singer, delivering immaculate lead and harmony vocals in record time.
The session would ultimately run more than 10 hours with only a modest break for lunch. But by day’s end a board mix of the track was produced and the entire attendance—including band—was blown away by Alan’s physical and aural stamina in being able to tackle and solve every twist and turn of the recording process without seeming to pause for breath.
After a quick re-group the live studio area was turned into a concert stage plus meet-and-greet area complete with food and drinks; The Dave Barrett Trio (now quartet) then treating all the Attendees to a brief but thoroughly enjoyable set.
A full and final mix of Belmonte is due to appear on The David Barrett Trio’s next album [no title details are available yet], which is scheduled for release in the fall of 2012.