Dave & Jess in All Access

19 04 2011

One of the cool things we got to do in Nashville was connect with old and new friends. Jackie Chapman interviewed us for All Access, an online radio trade publication. As it turns out, both of us had known Jackie in different capacities during our time in Nashville. It was a fun time to reconnect and learn about some cool things going on with her and her family. You can check out the interview here:

http://www.allaccess.com/christian/10-questions/archive/9803/10-questions-with-dave-jess-ray

And go to jaqchapman.com to find out more about Jackie’s work.

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A Great Day!

3 11 2010

Yesterday was a great day!  We spent a long day in Watershed Studios, not even a mile from where we used to live in Nashville, working on tracks for the new project, Music for the Radio.  We were joined by some friends who have worked with us on previous projects.  Scott Williamson was producing and drumming, roles he also filled on the Dave & Jess Ray and Doorpost Songs albums.  Jason Webb was on piano, keys, and B3, and Greg Hagan played guitar, and both of them played on those previous albums as well.  James Gregory, who contributed to the last Doorpost Songs record, filled out the band on bass.

Evan came along and got to meet the gang.  He even received a drum master class from Scott:

We recorded five of the six tunes that will be going on the project, with the sixth being a piano/string number that I’ll record on the piano at the church.  One of the tunes, Better, is even going to make it into our set list for the upcoming concert at Tallowood on November 6!

All in all it was a great day.  We are so grateful to be working with such creative people, and we’re looking forward to putting it all together and letting you hear the finished product!





Something New

2 11 2010

This morning finds us in Nashville, Tennessee, getting ready for something new!  We’re about to head into the studio to record a new project, one that has been a long time in the making.  It’s called Music for the Radio, and it all started two years ago, almost to the day.

On November 1, 2008 we left to spend two weeks in southern Sudan with the non-profit organization that Jess works for, Aid Sudan.  It was an incredible trip, and one that left an indelible mark on our lives.  Most of all, we came away with a great love for the southern Sudanese people and a prayer that God would move powerfully in that country.

One of the incredible projects that Aid Sudan is using to impact the spiritual and physical needs of the southern Sudanese is the Radio Station Project.  Two radio towers are already up in Sudan – some of the first mass communication to reach this remote area of the world – and fourteen others are projected.  These satellite repeater stations will broadcast Bible stories, health and hygiene information, local news, and community development teaching all in the local tribal languages.  This oral transmission of information is crucial because the large majority of Sudanese are not literate.

The key to this project is a specially-designed handheld radio.  It’s solar-powered because there is no electricity, and it’s fix-tuned to the Aid Sudan signal.  Because the Sudanese live in family groups, one radio can reach 10-15 people, and sometimes more.  But there are over a million people in the broadcast area of the existing towers, and millions more in the projected broadcast area of the remaining towers.  That means we need thousands upon thousands of radios!

The good news is that these radios only cost $20 to manufacture and distribute, and there are already thousands in southern Sudan.  But we need more, and that’s where our new project comes in.  Music for the Radio is a 6-song EP that will be released in Spring of 2011.  All of the receipts – not just the profits, but everything we receive – will go to purchase these radios.  It’s a project we’ve been praying about for almost two years, and now God has finally opened the door for us to take the first step down this road.  We’re praying that God will do amazing things through this project, and that thousands of people will be impacted as a result.

And it’s not just about the Sudanese people.  Music for the Radio is a reminder to us that God is singing a song through each of our lives, and He never meant for us to keep it to ourselves.  He is calling us to sing it out, to broadcast it to a world that needs to hear it.  The song of God is music for the radio!  Don’t keep it to yourself.  Sing it out!





Pictures from the Studio

9 02 2008




The Studio Process

9 02 2008

Well, I promised that I’d write in more detail about our time in Nashville – for those of you that are interested – so here goes.  There’s no way to really encapsulate the experience in a few words, but I’ll do my best to give you an idea of what goes on in the studio.

First Avenue Sound in Franklin, Tennessee sits in a nondescript building just off Main Street in quaint downtown Franklin, right across the street from a great breakfast dive called Dotson’s and a few blocks away from the town square.  The main room houses the console and outboard gear – pre-amps, compressors, and EQs used to make the individual sounds as good as possible – the computer, and the monitors.  Todd, our engineer, spent most his time here making sure that the sounds were right and handling the ProTools recording system.  Once Scott, our producer, was finished with his drum tracks he too would sit behind the console and direct our creative efforts.

The band was setup in their own individual spots so that we would be able to record all the instruments at once.  The drums got the largest room so that we could get nice big tones.  Sharing that space was the keyboard player, Jason, and all his gear.  His airport worker-style headphones kept the loud volume of the drums to a minimum.  Jason’s keyboard rig was probably the most extensive of all the players.  He had two keyboards, a Wurlitzer, and a Fender Rhodes all routed through various guitar pedals and into a mammoth 120-watt Fender Twin amp.  (Turn the volume up to 4 or 5 and it will peel your skin right off.)  In addition, his Hammond B3 was setup in the adjacent room with the grand piano.  Off to one side was a small room for acoustic guitar and another for scratch vocals.  Greg Hagan, our guitar player, and Joeie Canaday, our bass player, were positioned in opposite corners of the main room with the console.

The musicians play to charts written in a system called Nashville Numbers, which consists of numbered chords similar to those used in music theory, but written in regular Arabic numbers instead of Roman numerals.  This allows them to be immensely flexible with the key of any particular song, and leaves plenty of room for each musician to imbue the song with his own creativity.  Before recording each song we would gather in the main room to listen to a demo and get an idea of where the song was headed.  Then the players would spend a few minutes getting sounds, coming up with ideas, and practicing specific sections of the song.  Once everyone was ready Scott counted them off and they would start a take. The first goal was to get a good drum track to which the rest of the players would play.  Of course, the musicians were still learning the song, so the first two takes would usually be unusable as they locked in their parts.  Once it became apparent that the take was not going to be a good one the musicians would start goofing off, which were some of the funniest parts of our time in the studio.  We could have created quite the blooper reel!

Rarely did it take more than three tries to get a good drum track – a rather incredible fact when you consider all the different elements that have to be played exactly on the beat.  Once he was finished Scott would join us in the main room to listen to the rest of the players and guide their efforts.  The bass was usually quick to follow, only needing to fix a few things here and there.  Once the foundation was laid the guitars and keyboards would be layered as each player got ideas for the song.  It was really exciting to see each song put together with each musician contributing his own creative energy.  The collaborative process yielded some great moments!  The whole process usually took about two hours per song, and at the end we would gather in the main room and “listen down” to the whole song, making sure that the track was completely finished.

Of course, it was also great fun spending time with the guys.  They were all a blast to hang out with, each with his own unique personality, and our conversations ranged from the inane (worst studio experiences) to the sublime (the synergy of accessibility and artistic integrity in worship).  We left on Wednesday evening having accomplished all we set out to do, excited about the new tracks, and looking forward to laying down the vocals and hearing the finished product.  Thanks to all of you who had a part in making this possible!





Day 3 in Nashville

7 02 2008

Well, it’s a couple days overdue, but here’s the skinny on day 3 in the Nashville.  It looked a lot like day 2 – in the studio at 9:30 in the morning, out of the studio at 9:30 in the evening.  We tracked Light of the World (which you may remember from our Christmas service last year), Undone, One (a brand new song), and Thunder Roll.  Then we re-cut the drums on One in a Million and added a little Hammond B3.  The organ gives it a great new character!  That completes all the tracking we set out to do.

After finishing the session and saying goodbye to our musicians we finally had a moment to relax, catch our breath, and reflect a bit on the last few days.  It was truly a fulfilling week for us, both as musicians and as Christ-followers. Working with these world-class musicians was an incredible privilege, and creating this album has long been a dream of ours, but seeing this wonderful experience dovetail with God’s leadership on our lives was breathtaking.  We are so excited to share this music with you!

I’ll write in more detail about the studio process later – for those of you that are interested.  The next step for us is laying down vocals, which we will do here in Houston over the next few weeks.  We’ll keep you posted!
 
From left to right: Dave, Jess, Jason Webb (keys), Joeie Canaday (bass), Greg Hagan (electric guitar), Todd Robbins (engineer), and Scott Williamson (producer, drums)




Day 2 in Nashville

5 02 2008

Hey friends!  We had our first day in the studio today!  After hearing the band play through the first song to be tracked, we soon realized how incredibly blessed we are to be working with these musicians.  It’s fulfilling to hear our simple song demos transform into full sounds and expressive music.  The musicians have truly been able to channel our vision for these songs into something tangible.

We’ve tracked the band on five songs (Be Glorious, These Precious Minutes, Face of God, Shout it Out, and Restore Me) and will be hitting another four songs tomorrow.  We’ll also be re-recording some sections of two other previously recorded tracks tomorrow to round out our 11-song album.  The schedule we’re keeping has made for a long day, but it’s great to see us making such progress.

We’re shooting a good deal of video, and hope to have that up soon, as I’m sure the paragraphs of text are getting pretty boring (and cannot begin to communicate all that we’re experiencing!).

Thanks for reading – more coming soon!