For touring bands, the studio recording experience can be strikingly distinct from a live performance: the former is intimate and inward-looking, while the latter is visceral and interactive. For many, the best recording sessions combine top-notch facilities with a remote locale, and resemble retreats more than anything else.
For eight years, the Blue Rock Artist Ranch and Studio in Wimberley, Texas, a world-class destination recording studio, has provided just such an experience for some of the nation’s premier recording artists. A recent partnership with Concert Window will open up the studio to a much wider audience. The series, called “Sessions from Blue Rock Live,” will broadcast in-studio concerts on the internet, putting all of the venue’s technological resources towards intimate – and interactive – live shows.
“The mystique of a recording studio is something that attracts people. It's an entire world that many have never seen,” says Blue Rock’s chief engineer, Charlie Kramsky. “We are inviting them to be involved with artists in a way that they may have never experienced.”
In addition to multiple cameras and high-quality sound, “Sessions from Blue Rock Live” will feature a chat box that allows audience members and performers to communicate. Concert Window founder Dan Gurney describes it as “interactive TV.”
“The artists love it because they are able to perform their songs as if they are tracking a record, with no waiting months for mixing, mastering, pressing, distribution, etc.,” explains Kramsky. “Even better, the energy of the fans is present in the process. Now artists can perform in a world class studio and feel the immediate response.”
The first Blue Rock Live show on Feb. 11 will spotlight The Oh Hellos, a Texan brother-sister duo with a big backing band. Maggie and Tyler Heath describe themselves as “intentionally-independent self-produced musicians” and their band as a “unique mixture of eclectic folk-rock.” Theirs is a sound that is remarkably familiar of late: both the Lumineers and Mumford & Sons managed to top the pop charts with a similar blend of folk instrumentation and anthemic, spiritually-minded songwriting. The Oh Hellos fit neatly into the same category, though with a stronger aversion to gimmickyness, which may account, at least somewhat, for their independence.
Though The Oh Hellos specialize in lush, cinematic arrangements, their Blue Rock Live studio session will be acoustic and somewhat stripped down. The idea is to capture the best of both worlds: the sound of a first-rate studio, and a jam session in your living room, with the world sitting in.