For The Record: Becky Buller #4

Once again, Stephen Mougin at Dark Shadow Recording has prevailed on one of his artists to retail their recording experience for us in blog form. This time, it’s Becky Buller who is working on her first solo project with the label. Here is the fourth installment of her studio diary. A talented songwriter, Becky also tours and records with Darin & Brooke Aldridge on fiddle and clawhammer banjo.

February 4, 2014

The cookies! at Dark Shadow Recording - February 4, 2014Another 4:30 am start time for me. Got the baby up and out and then headed on to Goodlettsville in the rain.  (Sounds like a song…) Paused only slightly for a McDonald’s oatmeal. Oatmeal ended up being the theme for the day; I brought the cookie jar back to the studio, filled to the brim with oatmeal chocolate butterscotch chip cookies. (I’m drooling just thinking about them!) Well, oatmeal and peanuts. Mojo told me to bring peanuts for Sam.

Yes, it was Sam Bush Band day! No Chris Brown and his drums of renown this time around, but everyone else was with us to cut a couple numbers, which included Mojo (guitar), Scott Vestal (banjo), Todd Parks (bass), and, of course, Sam Bush (mandolin).

Home was the first tune we cut that day. Poor, Mojo! We had talked arrangements a few days before and had everything set, chord charts meticulously written. We played it down that way a couple times and it sounded good, but I stuck my head out of the booth and said, “Could we add a Sam break?” So we axed the fade out, added a split break over the chorus, and now it sits at 11.

A little about the song Home: I wrote that back in 2006 not long after Jeff and I started dating. Valerie Smith, her husband Kraig, and our mutual friend Dennis Flatt put together a barbecue/bluegrass pickin’ as a pretense to introduce us. Jeff says he knew right away when we met that I was the one for him. I can’t say I knew right away, but he sat right down and chimed in on a conversation about Sesame Street AND played a good-looking D18, so I was interested. I knew he was the one for me about a month later when this song fell out of my brain. God (and my subconscious) had to get my attention somehow. (I’m writing this on Valentine’s Day, so I’m a bit more sentimental than usual…I only married him for his D18.) (Just kidding.) (No, really…)

Back to the studio! Everybody rocked both numbers, especially my tune American Corners, a bit of a finger-twister in B flat with an especially aggravating sidestepping second part. Scott knew it better than even I did, so we were all asking him how it went. He went back in to fix something, but I’m not sure what because his track sounded pristine to begin with. And Todd is just a brilliant bassist. Brilliant!

The name of this tune harkens back to when both Mojo and I were with Valerie Smith and Liberty Pike. We played the A. Curtis Andrew Auction Facility in American Corners, MD, on a co-bill with Ronnie Bowman and the Committee. Looks like they still have bluegrass and country shows there at least twice a year.

Sam said this tune reminded him of his square dance fiddling days, which led him into stories about his dad, Tommy Jackson and Howdy Forrester tunes, and John Hartford… It was incredible day!

I was first introduced to Sam’s music not long after I started at East Tennessee State University. We didn’t have any newgrass records around the house while I was growing up, so when somebody invited me to the Down Home in Johnson City, Tenn., to hear the Sam Bush Band, I had no idea what to expect. I believe John Cowan and Darrell Scott were with him that night and I think I left with a copy of Glamor & Grits and, quite possibly, Darrell’s record Aloha From Nashville. That night changed my life, both as an instrumentalist and as a songwriter.

I sure hope Mojo’s psychotic leprechaun yodeling count off on “American Corners” makes it onto the record. Or perhaps becomes a ringtone? (There are so many outlets for these kinds of nonsense nowadays! He also does a fine impersonation of the Muppet’s Beaker singing “Blue Bayou”. Another outtake?

End of day four. Oh yes; there’ll be more!