New Mountain Heart project nearly done

We heard yesterday from Jim VanCleve, Mountain Heart’s fiery fiddler, who reports that the band’s new 7-song EP project is almost finished.

Jim has been mixing the tracks this week at Blackbird Studio, Nashville’s premier recording facility. Their mixing suite (Studio C) is commonly described as the “stick room,” based on the unique acoustic engineering design of the room. Jim tells us that he has been pinching himself all week finding himself working in the same spot as countless pop and country hits have been produced.

“It was only through a series of extremely fortunate events – which unfolded during the whole recording and early stages of the mixing process – that we were able to even fathom moving into the Blackbird world.

My best friend, David Hall, happens to be a world-class engineer as well, and he has been friends with the studio manager and John McBride (Martina’s husband, the studio owner) for years. Between them all, we were able to figure out a way for Mountain Heart to have access to their superb facilities. It has made an unbelievable difference.”

The stick room is world renowned for its acoustic transparency. It is a certified anechoic chamber, so designated for its ability to minimize or eliminate audio reflectivity. The room was designed by famed engineer George Massenberg, with each of the thousands of sticks attached to the wall selected and installed by hand amidst many hours of testing. No two are the same length, and Jim says that the effect is beyond description.

“Everything in the room has been mathematically engineered so that in the ‘sweet spot’ right in front of the mix position, all audio waves interact with each other in ratios that end up in prime numbers. I can’t tell you scientifically what this means, but I CAN tell you… it’s PRISTINE to mix under those circumstances.”

Blackbird is like a meeting place of audio royalty, and Jim mentioned the odd disconnect he felt pulling his Honda into a parking lot full of Astin Martins. In fact, as Jim and I were talking yesterday afternoon, he paused and said:

“Wow… George Massenberg just walked right past me!”

Can’t wait to hear what they got. We understand that the new project will include some Mountain Heart style bluegrass, and some non-bluegrass material, which is the direction the band is taking these days.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.