2002 The Ragpicker's Dream Album Diary

    This is a pictoral diary of the making of the Ragpicker's Dream album.

    It was put together during the making of the record and subsequently some statements herein may be inaccurate or Inappropriate.

    Any references to JOEMEEK products....read TFPro.!

     WEEK 1 January 2002

  • Go To "Week 2 January 2002"

  • Go To "Week 3 April 2002"

  • Go To "London May / June 2002"

  • Sun 20th

     Today is the setup day. I'm off to the studio to meet Chuck and set everything up for tomorrow's sessions. I'll start posting pics later today when I've taken some and of course I'll natter on some more.

    Lots of new gear to try out...lots of new mics....new tape formats...new HD recorders, details on these later in the week.

    Chuck spent today getting drum sounds, moving us around the studio, checking sightlines etc.There is also the usual wonderful selection of guitars which Mark and Richard will have at their disposal for tomorrow when the red light will be 'on'.

    Chuck having "a bad hair day"

    Mon 21st

    Day one in the studio went smoothly. We cut a new tune...very cool. Here's a shot of the layout on the studio floor. That's the Hammond B3 we have in the foreground plus a Wurlitzer and Fender Rhodes.

    Here's a better view of the floor layout, the big glass window is the control room window in front of which is Mark's booth. To the right of this picture are the FIVE iso rooms one of which is a stone 'live' room.

    Tue 22nd


    Here's Mark and Richard setting up to do a Ukelele overdub.

    As it's Jim's Uke......we decided he should play it on the actual record.

    I'm afraid you'll just have to wait till the record is out to hear the result.

    Wed 23rd

    Chuck Ainlay in the control room. He's sitting in front of the new Steinberg Nuendo HD system.

    As a proud sponsor, Chuck is keen to show off it's delights. I must say as a long-term lover of Pro Tools, at the moment, I'm ready to switch.

    We're predominantly recording to two Studer A800's fitted with 16track headblocks locked to the Nuendo system recording at 96khz.

     Here's an awful pic of Chuck in the control room at the Nintendo.... pretendo....er. I mean Nuendo.


    Thu 24th

    Mark and the band running through a new one around the piano.


    Fri 25th

    Here's Mark at work in his little booth with his Martin.

    That's a Telefunken M251 on Mark's vocal.

    The choice of vocal mic will change regularly....it all depends on what sounds good for the song.


    Richard in his iso booth with his Hagstrom guitar.


    Sat 26th

    Chad Cromwell




    Guest 96er Paul Franklin seen here in his stone room enclosure. (it's the only room with locks on the door!)


    That's LOUD in there! Being stone and very reflective, it's a really nice room for 'livelyness'.


    Paul's dad designs and builds all his steels


    The live room 





    Sun 27th

    Today we're having a day off



    Week 2 January 2002


    Sun 27th

    My day off

    Weather Channel quote of the day "the south is just a mess" .

    This is our channel of choice in the studio lounge, not that we do any hanging around or anything.


    Mon 28th



    Back in the stude today, a shot here of the two Studer A800 tape machines fitted with the 16 track headblocks.

     (Note tracks 17-24 on each machine not active) 



    Chuck's assistant on these sessions is John Sailor.

    Here he demonstrates his system of what we call 'recall'. He's taking digital snaps of the amp settings which then get stored with all the other recall info for the session. It's part of the assistant's job.




    All this for a 3 piece!......John repatching vocal takes at the patchbay for Mark to sing over the track we cut today (Monday) Ino rder to route the vocal to another track on the tape machine, you need to 'direct patch' it into the relevant tape line input.

    We utilised every patch cord in the building and some from the studio over the road.



    Chad's kit today comprises today of a Ludwig bass drum (1960's) his DW toms and an OLD Ludwig snare. The blanket over the bass drum is to deaden the sound in the extreme as we were after a very dry 70's sound. Note also the foam baffle the left of the kit, again for 'drying' up the room.




    Richard's amps for today are a vibroverb, a Rickenbacker Electro and a Tone King.



    Tue 29th

    Today, after the session, we had the pleasure of visiting the new Nashville country music hall of fame. We were invited to look around this most wonderful exhibit after hours. It really was an awe inspiring experience and I'd strongly recommend it to all who visit Nashville.




    This is the old RCA mixing desk at which the great Chet Atkins spent most of his early career. This thing churned out hit records! It probably still works. They used to combine 30-40 inputs down to 3 tracks, stereo with the vocal seperate..


    Wed 30th



    Here's Mark and Richard running through another new tune before we all get our hands on it.

    Mark's playing his Martin and Richard has his bouzouki out.




    Mark pickin' on the studio couch





    my feet




    Thu 31th

    Here's a much requested shot of the Guitars Mark has over here for these sessions. Mark's guitars from left to right - Gibson Southerner Jumbo (1953), Fender Stratocaster (1954), Gibson Advanced Jumbo (1938), Gibson Les Paul (1958), National Steel (circa '38), Fender Telecaster (1954), Martin HD40 MK Signature (2001)



    Richard Bennett playing a '60's Kay bass on one track. (Glenn played one of his uprights on the same song).....note the label still on the guitar.



    Glenn's upright bass litter.



    Richard's guitar litter



    L-R Chad Cromwell, Richard Bennett, Paul Franklin, Jim Cox, Glenn Worf, Mark Knopfler, Chuck Ainlay, Guy Fletcher, John Sailor








    Fri 1st Feb

    This evening we will be 'in conversation with...' at the newly opened Ingram hall at the Blair school of music here in Nashville.Oops forgot to take pics.

    Here's a shot of the 5 iso booths. This shot taken from the rock-room showing the view through the five isolation booths here.



    Sat 2nd


    Here's us gathering for another new tune in the studio.



    This is Chucks little amp which I used for the Wurly. He thinks it's a Gibson but we're not sure. Any ideas?


    Our last day of recording in this stint. Just had to include a pic of Laurie ('yum' catering), who cooked spectacular lunches each day. Many pounds gained over this two week period.


    Mark and I fly home tomorrow. I'll continue this diary when we resume. VERY SOON.....

    Stay tuned.





    Week 3 April 2002


    Mon 15th April




    "Is that the worst sounding chord you've ever heard?"


    Tue 16th April


    A couple of shots of Mark and Emmy running through one of the new songs. Thier voices blend particularly well and the album will be a real treat.





    Mark and Emmylou and another shot of the lot of us. That's Glen Duncan on the left. We were fortunate enough to have him on the session playing fiddle.




    Back to gear pics , here's Chuck's rack of converters


    Wed 17th April


    A one of a kind Gibson 'Chet Atkins' SST prototype which will be going on display in the Country Music Hall of fame. This is one of several guitars which Chet gave to Mark. He wrote a little message on this one.

    The award of appreciation Mark recieved today.



    Tue 18th April


    Here's Mr Worf using a very unusual bass. An Ampeg. We're not quite sure what model, but it certainly has a unique sound.





    The song we cut today involved a very cool mic technique. The 60's Gretch kit was mic'd with two JM47's (Joe Meek) over the toms, as shown, and a mono 'Royer' microphone about 3 feet from the bass drum. Chuck put a 1176 UREI compressor over the Royer on 'heavy' (all 4 buttons in).


    Check out that psychedelic finish on Chad's kit. It's called 'moonglow satin'.



    Fri 19th April


    Here's Mr Worf again in the control room. Check out those 'Joe Meeks' in Chuck's rack.




    Here's Mr Worf's finger after playing a take on his Hofner Bass using only ONE string. Now that's what we call 'groove'.




    This is the Hofner bass which inflicted the damage.



    Sat 20th April


    Mark demonstrates classic air guitar technique in the control room.All done for another Nashville session. A most enjoyable and productive week. Mark, Chuck and I are off to London now to resume work this week. I'll post periodic updates if you like.


    Stay tuned.




    London May / June 2002


    Mark, Chuck and myself continue the recording process here in London. This page will show in greater detail what exactly it is we're doing here!


    Basically we will be taking the project into it's next phase, that being the overdub/comping/fixing stage. Additional overdubs ie. Lead guitars and Keyboards are currently taking place. But of course before we do that, we have to compile the vocals and everything that was recorded in the sessions in Nashville....and that means comping.


    Comping (or compiling) is the process of choosing the best performances from multiple takes to assemble one ultimate track. Once we've comped, we then look at any additional overdubs.


    MK goes Mexican.

    Nice little story here......A sneaky little shot of Mark playing a brand new Mexican Fender strat.


    I bought this as a gift for a friend and thought I'd get Mark to give his appraisal. The guitar recieved the thumbs up from MK!




    One interesting aspect of the recordings is the fact that we are not in a professional recording studio at the moment, there's no need....we're in Mark's house!!


    Here's the back bedroom showing the 'amp-cave'. 5 sheets of 12 inch thick foam completely surrounding the amplifier. Partly to reduce the inconvenience to the neighbour's, and partly to reduce the sound getting into the control room (Mark's lounge) Don't forget a 59 Les Paul through a Soldano amplifier and a Marshall 4x12 cabinet is LOUD!


    By the way, that microphone is the vintage Telefunken 251 which Mark has been using on his vocal, it's NOT used on the guitar amps.


    This room has proved to be a little gem over the years. It all started with the Hillbilly record which was recorded ENTIRELY in this room. The key I suppose is the wooden floor and the careful placement of the baffles. Acoustic guitars sound fabulous in here.


    Other projects which have been undertaken here are Last Exit to Brooklyn, Golden Heart, On the night (mixing) Metroland, Robbie the Reindeer and of course Sailing to Philadelphia.



    Mark tries to get even more out of a Marshall JCM45 head.



    We preferred this amp for what we did today. After spending a while with the Bassman, then the Soldano, Mark eventually went with the 59 Les Paul through the TFPro into the Marshall head through a Marshall 4x12 surrounded by foam of course.



    Here's a screenshot of the Cubase page for one of the songs on the new album.


    The cool new Plugsound VST synth I'm trying out.



    This is Mark and Chuck on the rooftop, comping in the sun, running Steinberg Nuendo on a PC laptop at 96khz.



    Can you guess who this is paying us a visit on the roof?


    hint........"Why aye man"




    answer.....JIMMY NAIL



    late night session 



    Me with laptop on roof again