This past weekend I spent the better part of a Saturday at Rocking Horse Studios in NH. I was there to watch, listen and take notes while the talented “Dusty Gray Band” recorded a few tunes for an upcoming EP, or maybe an album… or a single.. or a web single.. Maybe a cassingle. I left my house around noon and made the short drive to Rocking Horse on Saturday. When I arrived, the band was just about to take lunch break! (Perfect timing) I got fed some hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, coleslaw, chips and…. Sam Adams Summer in a can! (to be fair I had actually brought the beer, so you cannot say I was fed it; because I brought and consumed it myself.. well and let the other guys drink it too). It was good to share some food with the band so I could get to know them before they recorded---
The entire band was there; Dusty(Lead singer/guitar), Tim(Drummer) and Chris(bass and interpretive dancer). We were only missing lead guitar, Matt and fiddle player, Jordan- I am told that Jordan is busy finishing up some stupid brunch type thing. I don’t know where Matt is but I imagine he is on the Rock N Roll clock where noon is actually 6am and way too early to get up. The food is awesome but I was excited to see them work in the studio. But…………
After lunch is when the day went terribly wrong. I think I got drugged. Stuff started to get a little blurry and I passed out. When I came to, I was tied up, sitting on the couch in the control room with Dusty sitting in front of me. He was sitting in the chair legs crossed- you know… like a cool hipster- leaning forward with his arms folded over each other(yeah, Dusty is just that cool- he can cross his legs, arms and lean forward all at once- try it… it is damn hard.). It is at this point that Dusty spoke to me in a Nashville coated twang (I hadn’t noticed this type of verbal delivery at lunch) – “Look here, ya fella- We gonna do us some country tunes in this place. You just sit dar and take it in”… I was scared- peed a little-started to sweat and shake- but then the music started. It was like a train coming down the tracks, like a pounding marching army, like… well.. like a song you wanted to bob your head up AND down to. I was no longer afraid- I was in bliss but then…. “WAIT TAKE THAT AGAIN FROM THE THIRD MEASURE AFTER THE 3RD BEAT- HIT THAT SPACE BAR”
I forgot- I was not at a show- I was at Rocking Horse Studios. Wait- I was not drugged- I was just really drunk. Ok ok , must focus- these guys are expecting some sort of funny and exciting story about my experience with them at the recording studio. It was why I was invited over.. ok, I tried to focus and pay attention. Jordan insert-really-long-last-name-cki was in the control room with us recording his parts for the record(his hipster brunch had ended). His violin that was plugged into an Orange head was blaring a dreamy solo covered with ¼ note delay and reverb. It was spectacular to watch Jordan perform so closely and nail each take. The one and only flubbed note was removed and redone in a matter of seconds with the master Brian Coombes behind the board. It was quite amazing to see the professional approach by the band and the staff at Rocking Horse Studios to get the best possible takes put to tape(or well… digital zero’s and ones.)
After Jordan was done laying down his parts it was time for a break. We headed out into the large field behind the studio. I am not sure where they came from but a badminton set and a volley ball appeared. Jokes about shuttle cocks and balls filled the field with improperness. It was at this point I realized why this band did not go places in the professional world of sports. Watching musicians try to be athletic is like listening to a 4 year old explain quantum mechanics (wrong on all sorts of levels). “I GOT IT” and “MINE” were shouted with veracity and mostly followed by the sound of a birdie or ball hitting the ground. Once we were all sufficiently covered in perspiration we went back to the studio for the inspiration portion of our day.
“I think we should add Tambourine!” said the band’s drummer, Tim….I could not believe I was hearing these words. Seriously, this is like asking for more cow bell or saying you ‘have blisters on me fingers’- you just don’t do it. --- “You can do what you want but its just isn’t gonna sound as good- Fucker.” The voice that said this seemed to disappear into the mist and I never could pinpoint who actually said it. After some good laughs there was talk about how; the album would suck or maybe not suck or maybe it would suck but in a non-sucky way or be amazing or maybe just not really that sucky enough for it to be bad. It was at this point that Tim redeemed himself. He heard a strange noise on one snare hit- no one else had heard it. After a few minutes of isolating it and correcting the mistake it was agreed- “He has the ear like a Fucking Deer.”
---Time for another break---
I stood outside with the most important person in the band- The bass player Chris Noyes- HAHAHAHA no no,.. I am kidding. Wow… that was a good one. I mean, lead singer, guitarist and song writer Dusty Gray. We chatted about the directions of the band, local music, song writing in Nashville and whether or not the field behind the studio was hayed or not (to end the suspense, it is hayed by the studios neighbor for his cows or horses … I knew you were concerned). Despite the success the band has recently had, Dusty is still well grounded. Dusty is here because of the fans, for the fans. He knows it is cliché but “If it wasn’t for them- I wouldn’t be here- I would start all over at open mics that I love and start all over again.” I really wanted to ask where that accent he had came from before but…gosh, y'all, I reckon country will do that to ya. Damn that accent is fun…. Try it.
When we return to the studio it is lead guitar part time. Matt Jensen grabs his guitar and tunes up. The control room is now filled with guests. Matt is doing amazing slide guitar playing. As Brian sits behind the control board, he starts to have a little fun. The vocal parts suddenly start playing backwards- Brian laughs. The laugh eases the tension of being stuck in a small room for hours on end. Then it gets freaky “I am the Walrus”- What the…. While the vocal is playing backwards, the words “I am the walrus” are clear as day coming from Dusty’s vocal take. Maybe he is… After a few more guitar takes- it is time for me to take my leave. The band still has another day and more hours left in this day but I have to go. I am sad to leave but I also don’t want to over stay my welcome.
Perhaps Dusty is The Walrus- here to take us away to a magical mystery place in the candy land of the concord music scene. Or maybe he is here to delivery country from the chains it finds itself locked up in where creativity goes to die. Or maybe he is just a guy, who likes Sams in a can, likes to laugh, plays bad bad-mitten and all the time writes and sings some pretty damn F*&^ing cool ass music. Yeah- I think he just might be.
You can Catch the Dusty Gray Band at the Capitol Center For The Arts Saturady Aug 10th 2013 with Adam Ezra Group and Will Kindler more info here: http://www.ccanh.com/event/adam-ezra-group-will-kindler-and-dusty-gray
Find The band on line: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dusty-Gray/225834534110431
Rocking Horse Studios:
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