As producer, keyboardist, composer, and—this most of all—arranger, David Baron’s pawprints are all over the music of this moment. If the Hudson Valley has a house style — organic, roots leaning rock, folk, blues and jazz — Baron is one of only a handful of locals who is working far outside that earthy sweet spot, out in the strata of big budget pop. And yet it is not that simple.
Of the three stages in the process of making a record — tracking, mixing, mastering — it is only mastering that happens behind a veil, performed in optimized listening spaces, employing speakers and amplifiers that cost more than your car and racks of specialized equalizers, dynamics and spatial processors, and metering tools that suggest actions of the highest precision and the finest touch.
A Woodstock-based Grammy- and Juno-winning producer, the Ohio native Blume succeeded first as a guitarist, recording and touring Kid Creole and the Coconuts for over ten years and working with countless other names you might know: Iggy Pop, The Lounge Lizards, Jill Sobule, Medeski, Martin, and Wood, Jewel, Lisa Loeb. Blume launched his first studio in Brooklyn in the year 2000 — a profession and a place right on the cusp of violent change. He soon relocated to the Woodstock area and opened a solo venture, Hidden Quarry Studio, which he has recently transplanted into a new structure of his own design.
Owner of Coldbrook Productions in Woodstock, Julie Last has seen it all. The California native came up as an audio engineer at the legendary Record Plant in New York City, the woman manager of which told her on her first day, “I don’t think you’ll last two weeks, but come back tomorrow.” She worked there for four years.
In some ways, D. James Goodwin, owner of The Isokon studio in Woodstock, is a perfectly illogical place to begin an exploration of recording in the Hudson Valley. The self-described contrarian Goodwin is a conundrum: from local stock, his work with many national acts speaks more to a Brooklyn experimental sensibility, the antithesis of the fundamentalist Americana for which the region is most known. And yet he poses a far more subtle and complex problem than that. In his work with Blitzen Trapper, Kevin Morby, Rhett Miller and many more, Goodwin’s imprimatur is all over the re-imagined, experimental roots rock of the 21st century. He can go as weird as you want, but he has also been behind the board on generational music by the likes of The Hold Steady, The National, New Pornographers, and — get this — Bob Weir.