MCTS Nashville

Alan Parsons Goes Nashville for a 2-day Master Class Training Session
“The Art of the Song”
2-day Master Class Training Session

February 11th & 12th, 2013, 9:30 A.M. to 7:30 P.M. session with
Alan Parsons at Ocean Way Studios, Nashville.

MCTS Nashville

Date: 11-12 Feb 2013
Country: United States
Venue: Ocean Way Studios, Nashville
Event: MCTS Level 3
Producer: Alan Parsons
Artists: Annie Mosher, Paul Sikes, JP Williams
Musicians: Troy Lancaster (guitar), Shannon Forrest (drums), Doug Kahan (bass) Charlie Judge (keys)
Track: Multiple
Event Coordinator: Charlie Steves
Engineers: Alan Parsons, Coley Read
Production Assistant: Abi Mae Colbeck
Video: Theodore Miesner
Event Producer: Julian Colbeck, for KEYFAX NewMedia Inc.

Media Partner: Nashville Muse


Entitled “The Art Of The Song”, the Nashville MCTS saw Alan return to Nashville–site of the first filming sessions for the Art & Science of Sound Recording video series.

Songwriting was the focus of this two-day Level 3 workshop looking at issues ranging from composition to arrangement and performance as well as recording techniques. Famed Nashville listening room The Bluebird Café (featured in the hit TV series Nashville) conducted a month-long song search to find a new, appropriate homegrown song for the event. Alan Parsons himself selected the lucky winner at a special audition just the day before the recording.

Only it didn’t quite work out like that.

Confronted by three very individual performers on stage: Paul Sikes, a young male country-pop singer and guitarist, the brooding JP Williams, blessed with a voice as true as his true-blue country roots and who happens to be blind, and the wonderfully quirky Annie Mosher who’s intensely personal style straddles country music and modern folk.

Alan would clearly not make the best American Idol judge as he simply could not find a winner amongst these three performers; announcing to universal delight, that all three would be recorded over the next two days.

About The Venue

Ocean Way Nashville is located in the heart of Nashville’s famous Music Row. Among the world’s finest recording facilities, its client roster reads like a Who’s Who of the music world including George Strait, Harry Connick Jr., Faith Hill, Willie Nelson, Kenny Chesney and Paul Simon.

The Artists

The producers formed a joint initiative with Nashville's acclaimed Bluebird Cafe to find the singer and the the song for this event. The final shortlist of writers were invited to perform directly for Alan Parsons at The Bluebird Cafe the day before the actual session.

Nashville native Paul Sikes is an accomplished guitarist in his own right, songwriter, and producer. Paul's song I Wanna Do That had been a fairly straight-ahead country rocker on the demo. Alan and Paul decided to give it more of rockier / U2 feel with lots of sparse and punctuating guitar and a bubbling, arpeggiated synth motif that was SMPTE-d to the main ProTools rig in the control room.

Second Nashville son JP Williams is also a highly skilled and much admired songwriter and his beautifully observed country ballad The Dollar, recounts the influence of money for good or bad (“I take all the credit, all the blame…”), as a single greenback floats from bar to homeless person’s coffee can along the highways and back alleys of life.

Annie Mosher hails from Vermont and has wowed Nashville for many years with her sassy all-girl group Girls With Guitars. Annie stepped into the limelight to record her personal and precious take on society’s value of human life through the eyes of her four year old son’s reaction to the death of his goldfish. Talk about the power to move; after the first run-through never mind ‘scarcely’ a dry eye in the house…

The recording of Annie’s song demonstrated Alan’s deft touch when it comes to recording ‘just the right number’ of parts on top of a delicate and highly emotional song such as this. Too much and becomes too produced and slick; too little and why bother, just leave it as an acoustic guitar track.

The Musicians

The musicians were led by guitarist Troy Lancaster, who's made thousands of recording sessions playing on projects for artists like Taylor Swift, Harry Nilsson, Tim McGraw, Steven Tyler, Blake Shelton, Jessica Simpson and Englebert Humperdink. Troy is also a songwriter with commercial releases and is currently working on his own eclectic instrumental album. Uber session drummer Shannon Forrest has recorded, performed or console engineered rock artists like Boz Scaggs, Donald Fagan, Michael McDonald, Robben Ford and literally countless country artists. Shannon used his beautiful matt finish Australian Eucalyptus kit. Keyboardist Charlie Judge writes string arrangements and conducts. His list of country artists are endless. Charlie creates some of the most unconventional keyboard sounds yet they immediately become part of the song. Charlie was using a Yamaha Motif flanked by two trusty Roland JP808 modules along with a full compliment of soft synths lodged in his personal ProTools rig.

Bassist / writer / producer Doug Kahan is also an accomplished guitarist and keyboardist. He was signed by Capitol as a rock artist back in the 80's. He has played, written and recorded with countless writers & artists.

It was fascinating for the mainly non-Nashville Attendees to see the ‘Nashville’ ‘number’ system of charting chords in action–especially in view of this guitar based track being written in Eb.

This last-minute change of plans was only even theoretically feasible thanks to this quartet of seasoned Nashville session players.

Event Details

This was a Level 3 (Advanced) event.

Platinum Attendees each received a signed Certificate of Completion personally presented by Alan Parsons at the end of the workshop.

Media Partner

Nashville Muse


The MCTS Sessions will be held at Ocean Way Recording Studios in Nashville
• 1200 17th Avenue South • Nashville, TN 37212 • Tel (615) 320-3900 • Fax (615) 320-3910 •


    Day 1 (Feb 11, 2013)
  • 09.30–10.00 Welcome, Registration. Coffee and pastries will be served.
  • 10.00–10.45"Art of the Song" A brief introductory talk & audio lecture where Alan Parsons will talk about composition and arrangement in the context of some of his best known hit singles.
  • 10.45-11.45 Playback of The Song, accompanied by the writer. Discussion on arrangement and structure.
  • 11.45–1.00 Tracking session with drums, bass, guitar, keyboards and guide vocals.
  • 1.00–2.00 Lunch with Alan and performers at the studio.
  • 2.00–4.15 Continue tracking session / instrumental overdubs.
  • 4.15–4.30 Tea!
  • 4.30–6.30 Instrumental overdubs / vocals.
  • 6.30–7.30 Q&A with Alan Parsons (drinks and light refreshments will be served).
  • Day 2 (Feb 12, 2013)
  • 09.30–10.00 Arrival and Re-registration. Coffee and pastries will be served.
  • 10.00–11.30 Final vocal overdubs (as necessary).
  • 11.30-11.45 Break.
  • 11.45–1.00 Setting up the mix.
  • 1.00–2.00 Lunch with Alan and performers at the studio.
  • 2.00–4.00 Mixing session (with special focus on reverbs and delays)
  • 4.00-4.15 Tea!
  • 4.15–5.30 Mixing session (final balance, levels, digital formats).
  • 5.30–6.30 Playback of the final mix with Q&A.
  • 6.30–7.30 Reception with drinks and light refreshments - photos/autographs/distribution of certificates.


ASSR - Nashville Hat-Trick


Please join the discussions in the ASSR forums.


“It was a fantastic day, and if anyone has any doubts about whether this Master Class is worth it, DO NOT HESITATE, it is an informative, fun day in the studio! You will not regret spending a day in the studio with Alan Parsons...I can't believe I did that! [I’m] looking forward to more Master Classes … ! - Todd Miler (Canadian Radio personality)

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