Artasee is the brain(?) child of Dan Cook, roadie/renaissance man/third-person bio writer, whose resumé includes names like Ray Wylie Hubbard (http://raywylie.com/), the Lost Gonzo Survivors, Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Beach Boys, the Moody Blues, John Hiatt, and Jimmy Buffett. Artasee was established to be a potential outlet for the stream (drip) of creativity(really?) that cascades (seeps) from his hyperactive imagination (you take this one).
Artasee Records, the first tangible evidence of that torrent, buoys this Texas-style Odyssey (that's the way fancy-talkin' folks say artasee). A fleet of top-notch professionals was assembled to sail the ship known as 4GDB. (I think all of the metaphors are still unmixed, but that's a lot of water) I'd like to acknowledge some of them and begin to write in the first person, please.
First and foremost, I want to thank Bert, John, Paul, Derek, Glenn, and Alan (in the order I met them) for 30 or more years of friendship and outstanding music. The idea arose as a result of my respect for you as players and as good people and this record is my way of thanking you and letting more people know about you, and to give a treat to those who already do. Those five days in February 2015 we spent at Arlyn were as much fun as I've ever had in my life. I hope it was for you, too.
I need to single out Bert. His dad and best friend, Bert Wills, Sr. passed away the first day of recording. When I asked him if I needed to get him home he said, "No, my daddy would be mad at me if I quit a job. And I'd rather be here with you guys." He proceeded the rest of the week to put on a show of professionalism outmatching any I've ever seen. Bert Wills is my friend, and that's all I've got to say about that.
Once the idea hit me it was impossible to not pursue it further. I didn't want it to be something I'd look back and wonder 'what if?'. So, I called on three trusted friends who know a lot more about recording than I'll ever forget (?) for some advice. They are Paul Pearcy, Mac MacAnally... and Chris Stone.
My first genius producer move was to ask brother Paul what he thought of putting four guitar players in one room passing around solos and if he wanted to co-produce and play drums and pick a bass player who can play a 12 minute long groove with him. His answers were, "It's a pretty chancy, yes/yes and we need Glenn Fukunaga on bass." Thanks for housing me for years and always being you.
Then, I turned to Mac and Chris for advice and answers to the many questions that I had. Both of them were perfect guides for my journey into the world of analog recording. I took the blue pill and dove down the rabbit hole with a plan and some idea of how to pull it off thanks to Chris and Mac's help. Thank you both and I hope you like what I did with it.
This project started and finished as a way of drawing some overdue recognition to four legendary Texas guitar players and preserving some of their playing and stories (video is forthcoming) for posterity. During that week in the studio some musical magic was made. The guys passed around solos in a family-style jam session that is sure to please their individual fans and a whole new audience of folks that love really good guitar playing, Texas-style.
A very special acknowledgement goes to the late Henry Gonzales (see NEWS article 3/10/2016) who graciously provided and mounted the posters and artwork for the 4GDB session. It helped set a very cool atmosphere that carried through the whole week, and greatly contributed to the remarkable outcome. Illness prevented him from creating the album art, as well. Thanks to Leea Mechling for sharing Henry with us and for all her help assembling the art. And when you're in Austin go see the South Austin Popular Culture Center, it's a reflection of Austin music and art history and of Henry's interpretation of, and contributions to, that rich tradition. Visit www.southpop.org and check out the site and make a donation in remembrance of Henry.
To our family at Arlyn Studios in Austin, Texas:
Freddy and Lisa Fletcher, who made it seem kinda easy to turn a highly unusual (so I was told multiple times by multiple people) concept into reality. They both got the same chills when I told them what I wanted to do in their studio as I got when I thought it up this thing in the first place. It helped a lot that they, knowing all of the band except for Bert, reinforced what everybody else had said, that "Well... ? that's a unique way to go about it but if it works it'd be really cool!"
Recording Engineer Jacob "Lil' Arliss" Sciba went and captured the magic that happened and mixed it into just what I wanted- for it to sound to the listeners like they were standing right there in the room facing the band. He knows what recording, and more importantly, what recording on tape, is all about and showed it. Showed it good. Showed it real good. While, at the same time, putting up with me and my... you know.
Assistant Engineer Joseph Holguin, makes up the other half of the recording team and is a young whiz-bang with tape. He kept real good notes, too. I know because I had to copy a lot of them cause they were more accurate than mine.
Whitney Gonzalez does lots of the other stuff out front and is a really nice person, and those people are rare. Arlyn is full of 'em. You can't swing a banjo without hittin' somebody nice in there. That accounts for the NO BANJO–SWINGING ALLOWED sign.
To all of you at Arlyn, thank you. I can't wait to do it again. Let's get ready for 4GDB Rides Again.
p.s. Harley Baker is this guy that came down from Dallas on a Friday and worked without sleep until the following Tuesday tracking down a gremlin. Gremlins visit every studio that ever existed and one came to ours just before the session. D'OH!! Stupid Gremlins. Anyway, it weren't no match for Harley (with an assist by David Hough) If it wasn't for him and most all of the people I already mentioned you wouldn't be reading this right now (if you actually are). Thank you Harley. Hope you finally got some sleep.
Bette and Mary Ellen at ATR Magnetics spent a lot of phone time teaching me what I needed to know about recording on tape and taught me how to BUY tape, and LOTS of it. Thank you ladies (Bette swears a little when she hears real good music but that in no way diminishes her lady-hood) for all the help. Hope you feel like your product and your time went to good use. visit atrtape.com and tell them 4GDB sent you and be real nice to them and you'll get the same back.
Solely on Jacob's recommendation (one of many times that happened) I sent our final mixes for mastering to Brad Blackwood at Euphonic Masters in Memphis, Tennessee. Whatever secret things happen in mastering get done real good there. He was another victim of my greenness and learnt me what I needed to know, at a great cost, the loss of a lot of his time. He's got a Grammy already and he gets another one in my book for his work on this one. It sounds like he took what we sent him and sprinkled that magic mastering dust on it and made it shine.
Brad recommended I talk to Jeff Powell, an independent cutter, engineer, mixer, and producer, also in Memphis, about doing the vinyl cutting, a critical and crucial step in this whole process. 4GDB on a high quality vinyl record is the way this music was meant to be heard and Jeff helped make that goal come true, big-time. When I first talked to him about this project he was in the middle of a move to a new location which turned out to be in the building shown above, the Sam Phillips Recording Service. Mr. Phillips built it from the ground up in 1959 and opened it in 1960. It's just around the corner and down the street from the historic Sun Records building.
That's Jeff and his new (vintage) lathe in the new home of his company, Take Out Vinyl. It used to be the control room of the old Studio B. The 4GDB album was the very first new lacquer cut in this building in decades. Circumstantially, more or less, our record ended up being the one he used to set up and fine tune the lathe. Getting with Jeff was one of a number of fortunate events that helped make this record turn out so good. Thanks, Jeff. I hope we can put Volume 2 on your machine someday soon.
Jeff Van Zandt (yes… but they're all related some way or another), the Fender artist rep in Austin made available anything we needed or wanted to try, a bass rig, a couple of amps and a bright red tele. I like Fenders. I like em a lot. I specially like telecasters but strats are cool, too. And Jeff, we're gonna need a good Vibratone or two next time. Figured I'd ask earlier this go-round.
Collin Young and the good people at the conneXtion were able to accurately reproduce and quickly manufacture some CDs, 1000 of em. I'd like to have to call them and reorder a lot more. After digitalizing and being put on whatever CDs are made of it still sounds like what we had in the beginning, a really good guitar album, played well and recorded well. Good job, ya'll. Get your CDs made by them, I did! go to theconnextion.com
To all of the families who we don't get to be with on those days when we should be and want to be there, the funerals, the reunions, (i didn't mention weddings. I don't think many of us hate missing those) and lotsa holidays, thanks for understanding and abiding it. It's hard on both ends of the road. Hope you like this record. Maybe it'll help you when you're sad.
For now, the website artasee.com is the only place to buy 4GDB in any form so send folks here. Get on the hash-twit or face-tag networks (for a novel approach do it like we did, the old school way and call them on a telephone and have an actual conversation) that all the kids are on nowadays and tell your guitar-loving friends about this record and this website and send them to the LISTEN page. You won't have to say any more. Anymore. You can work on some other annoying habit they have. Or do something good for/with other good people. That's what fun is all about. And speaking of fun...
Lastly, and not leastly, one James Buffett deserves much of the credit for this whole deal. He unknowingly (it was best to keep it that way, Jimmy, trust me) helped set a series of events in motion that led ultimately to this album. My gig as his guitar caddie/Igor (it's pronounced Eye-gor) for the last 12 years, and hopefully the next 12 or 10 years, made it possible for me to see this project through from it's conception to finish.
Thanks to everyone again.
Vaya con queso,
"you artasee what i'm thinkin' up next"
LINKS TO OUR FRIENDS
Check out Mac McAnally and all his music (the latest, AKA NOBODY is a must-have) at www.macmcanally.com His help was invaluable in the making of the 4GDB album. He's a great guitar player and an even better man.
Ditto that as per Ray Wylie Hubbard. If you are not familiar with Ray you will do yourself a large favor by exploring his music, stories, movies (His movie- THE LAST RITES OF RANSOM PRIDE is about as twisted of a Western as has ever been made. Period.), and BY ALL MEANS NECESSARY-- GO HEAR HIM LIVE!!!!!!-- He is a Texas treasure and a great guy and gave me my start in show business. Go to www.raywylie.com
The good friends (the Misner family) at Action Custom Straps have made all the guitar straps I've needed for 12 years for my high-profile guitar-playing boss. The straps are the best on the market- they feel great, look great, and last forever. Visit them at www.actioncustomstraps.com
Robert Swain has made all the pics I have used for the last 25 years with the different artists I've worked with, including the last 15 years with Jimmy Buffett. Poodie, Willie Nelson's stage manager, introduced me to him at Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa in the early 90s and he's been my guy ever since. He's the best in the business. Contact him at [email protected] for all your guitar pick needs. I sure do.
And of course go to www.margaritaville.com and join the parrothead party. There's a platform I can get behind!!