It is a little after 9AM as I enter the studio and everyone turns to stare at me- Sometimes I feel like the enemy. “Watch what you say around this guy- It might end up in print.” The day is just starting and the jokes are already flowing. We are at Rocking Horse Studios in Pittsfield NH and you can feel the magic in the air. Rachel Vogelzang is in the studio recording her debut album. She has graciously invited me to be a fly on the wall while she records in this beautiful studio. “I forgot you were here and that made me happy for a minute” jokes George Laliotis. George is playing the drums on Rachel’s album and it is his first time recording at Rocking Horse. The musicians that Rachel and Rocking Horse owner Brian Coombes have put together for this record are some of the best in the area(and some of them think they are the best comedians). The lineup includes Joseph Pierog on bass, Matt Jensen on guitar and Myron Kibbee also on guitar. Rachel fills out this all-star cast with her piano, guitar and vocals.
Rachel sits in the control room behind an electric piano wearing cowboy boots and a flannel shirt. “There is so much crazy stuff going on in my life but this is still happening” Rachel says as she bends over and does some stretches that could be described as ‘tired yoga’. It is apparent that she is a little exhausted and jumping jacks are suggested to get her blood flowing. Rachel places her hands on her chest and slowly shakes her head indicating “absolutely no”. After her full day of recording, Rachel will need to head to run an open mic and pick up her daughter in Boston. It will be a long day. Where is the damn coffee?
We sit back and listen to a few demo tracks so the band can discuss what they will be playing when the ‘record button’ is pressed. Brian gives the group a short pep talk. “Don’t be afraid to be dramatic” he says as everyone takes their places. I sit on a couch behind Rachel as the recording starts. I am blown away- The tired woman who only moments ago looked like she was about to fall asleep has transformed. Rachel’s vocals blast passion into the microphone and it spills out the speakers. The piano that she plays is full of complex rhythms that the band members furiously try to emulate. How the hell did she pull that off!!!! “I can only sing full out like I am on stage; there is no half way.” Rachel shrugs it off as she takes a seat on the couch next to me.
Rachel has a ton going on in her personal life as she sits in the studio recording her masterpiece. She is moving out, taking care of her daughter, worrying about bills, dentists and boys.. oh boys. She leaves all that turmoil at the doors of the building. “Music is all about the now, the present. Each note is only now, so you have to be in the present. Good musicians can pull you into this moment” says Rachel. Almost every song being recorded is about relationships. Boy meets girls, girl meets boy- boy or girl breaks girl or boys heart- These are the subjects that Rachel finds most interesting to write about.
I am impressed with Rachel’s ability to sing and play piano so beautifully at the same time. Her response to this fact is-“Finger brains- doesn’t everyone have them? They help me recall piano parts without having to think.” Her lyrics are reflective of her life. Or maybe her life is reflecting her lyrics. Either way, her life is filled with love/ hate, feminism/girlish charm, order/chaos and her songs are also filled with these themes. Some might see this as a walking contradiction.. but I don’t see it that way- it is truth. We are not all simple. We are not always right. We can be wrong and right and pretty and ugly and sad and happy and busy and bored and we can be filled with drama and calm. We can also show up with all this craziness around us and record a beautiful album- Or at least Rachel can.
As the day progresses the crew gets down 6 songs. There will be some overdubs and an additional two songs to be recorded over 3 more days. The album is set to be released in the beginning of the New Year. You can keep all up to date on presales and helping fund the recording by going to Rachel’s website. We highly recommend picking up a copy. Thank you Rachel and Thank you Brian for letting me disrupt your recording for the day- I am honored to have been there.
Steve Mcbrian – Crunchy Western Boyss
Local bands you should checkout-
Dusty Gray Band,Boogie On Alice, The Ghost Dinner Band
The Van Burens, The 123's, Juliana Cable, Kitchen, The Ron Noyes Band, Diamond Joe, Lucas Gallo, Crunchy Western Boys, BRASBE, Charlie Chamberlain, Run Gazelle Run, Tyler Road, Ways To Fall, Gorilla Finger Dub Band, Yankee Cockfight