Preacher’s Fire October 2016

Hey all check out this months new format of Preacher’s Fire, More stuff: Pages, Listings, Ads, Interviews, Art, and a sweet editors note section which John Morse gave us his undying love. We proudly support and love the underground music scene that Portland and New England has to offer. Happy 1 year anniversary and we are proud to have been a part of it! This Month’s Cover art is by MAD.

Shows you should see:

  • Battery Steele 10/8 Bayside Bowl 9pm
  • Sylvia, Gadget, Vermin Womb 10/8 Geno’s 9pm
  • Discharge & Eyehategod 10/12 Brighton Music Hall, Allston Ma.
  • Damnationland 2016 Maine Horror Film Fest. 10/14, State Theater Portland 6:45pm
  • Shellac 10/20 Space Gallery
  • An Anderson, Cushing, Burr, Chung Antique 10/25 Geno’s 8pm
  • Show me the Body & Phallus Uber Alles 10/26 Space Gallery 7:30pm
  • Apollyon & Cadaverette 10/29 Geno’s 8pm
  • Ogre & The Tarantula Bros 10/29 ALL AGES Bayside Bowl 8pm
  • Halloween Party at Space Gallery 10/29 8:30pm

Now get out and see Live Music!!!

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1891 S.D. & H.W. Smith American Pump Organ

I have to be honest that ever since I finished the last Ghost of Johnson City Record I have had pump dsc_0271organs on the brain: when Erik Winter brought his Chicago-made George P. Bent Crown model in during a tracking session I was blown away by the sheer scope of its tones. It was so full and lush and sat in mixes really really well. I have had a number of them come through my hands over the years, so it wasn’t surprising that this Smith American pump organ found me via Noah Defillipis and I immediately bought it.

The Smith American Company was originally established by S.D. Smith and H.W. Smith as early as 1852. First known as the Smith American Organ Company, the firm was located in Boston and built high-end parlor organs and melodeons. In the early 1880s the firm began building pianos and the name of the firm was changed to “The Smith American Organ & Piano Company.” In 1889, the firm acquired The Regal Piano Company from the New England Piano Company, and the firm was known as “The Smith American Piano Company” by the 1890s. The Smith American Piano Company built and controlled the Regal Piano Company line until 1903. Many of the instruments by Smith American were also labeled as ‘The Palace Of Music’. It appears that the Smith American firm went out of business in the first part of the 20th Century.

tmp-jpgm7tlgm_1024_9999_fill_waterPump organs are a free-reed style of organ that generates sound as air flows past a vibrating piece of thin metal (known as the reed) in a frame. Much like a harmonica, its close family members are the Reed Organ, Harmonium, and Melodeons. The bellow system that creates the air needed to flow over the reeds is generated by pumping your feet back and forth. Most of the bigger organs have what are called stops or pulls–levers that change the voicing of the reed banks. Pipe organs achieve this effect by having different materials and lengths of pipe to achieve a variety of tones. This theory of stops or pulls is still being used today, think of the drawbars on a Hammond organ or on Vox and Farfisa organs. These stops emulate instruments such as Flute, Bassoon, Clarinet, French Horn. The Smith organ we have at the studio actually has a tremolo style effect for the treble side of the keyboard labeled Vox Humana. Most pump organs have two knee levers which in this case actuates a bass and treble coupler, and allows (when needed) the tmp-jpg4ge4sm_1024_9999_fill_waterhigher or lower octave of a note that is fingered to be played. Think of a ghost playing an octave higher or lower than the note you are playing. Pump organs are much more portable than pipe organs and were widely used in smaller churches and in private homes in the 19th century, but their volume and tonal range are limited relative to pipe organs. They generally had one or sometimes two manuals (keyboards), and rarer models also came with foot pedal boards. The better quality instruments have a unique tone, and the cabinets of those intended for churches and affluent homes were often excellent pieces of furniture. Several million free-reed organs and melodeons were made in the U.S. between the 1850s and the 1920s. Some of the more known makers are Estey and Mason & Hamlin.  The invention of electricity pretty much killed the pump organ.  In the early 20’s catalog manufacturers like Sears & Roebuck started carrying and distributing electronic organs and the writing was pretty much on the wall at that point.

We’re happy to have this pump organ at the studio, it will really add a new dimension of sound to a mix and we’re looking forward to incorporating it into future albums!

New England Shake-Up!

Yesterday we attended the 4th annual New England Shake-Up!, a fantastic multi-day rockabilly event held in Sturbridge, MA. The event includes live music, venders with vintage records and clothing, a car show, and a series of seminars and listening sessions with top-notch musicians at the forefront of the genre. We enjoyed an afternoon of performances and talks from Nate Gibson, Guy Van Duser, and Deke Dickerson, hosted by Sean Mencher. Here are a few highlights from that afternoon:

Sean Mencher's Rockin' AfternoonNate Gibson has dedicated a good portion of his career conducting interviews and synthesizing the story of Starday Records, an independent Nashville label that produced hundreds of bluegrass, country, rockabilly, and honky-tonk albums from 1953 to 1968. The result of this 8-year endeavor is his book, The Starday Story– The House that Country Music Built, a great resource that fleshes out the history and evolution of country and rockabilly music during that era. Nate shared some stories and photos that didn’t make it into the book, as well as a short snippet from an audio piece he put together as part of his masters thesis. Nate is now working towards his PhD in ethnomusicology. Nate is also an accomplished musician and we’re looking forward to having him in the studio later this week to track on our analogue old Event Records gear. Fun fact: Nate is 3 records away from having the entire catalogue of albums produced at Event Records.

Echo Sonic AmplifierNext up we listened to Guy Van Duser, a music professor and Chet Atkins scholar at Berklee. Guy plays using the distinct fingerstyle originally developed by Merle Travis, where his thumb manages a bass line and his second, third, and fourth fingers simultaneously perform accompanying chords and solo melodies. It is pretty mind-boggling to watch the level of independence each of the fingers on his right hand have to voice different parts and make his guitar sound like multiple instruments. Guy performed on his Custom Shop Gretsch Chet Atkins, which is wired so that he can send the bottom 3 and top 3 strings to different outputs for greater independence on the voicing from his guitar…pretty cool mod. Guy was also playing through an EchoSonic amp, made by Ray Butts, which was the first amp that had built-in tape delay. The distinct tone from that amp paired with the Gretsch guitar defined the tone of Chet Atkins and the iconic sound of Rockabilly. There were less than 60 EchoSonics ever produced and there are a little over a dozen of these amps still in existence, so it’s probably the last time we’ll really get to enjoy hearing that tone live… It was incredible to just sit and listen to Guy perform, and we definitely recommend you check out his album.

Finally, we heard from Deke Dickerson, a fantastic musician, music-paraphernalia collector, and music-history detective, who has published The Strat in the Attic, a reads-like-a-crime-novel compilation of stories about some of the crazy rare-guitar and amplifier finds. Deke shared a bit about the evolution of different guitar effects (tape delay, tremolo, reverb, and fuzz), and how these modifications evolved beyond their original concept design when some musician said, “what would it sound like if we put this on the bridge pickup and turned it up all the way??” Deke also shared some great stories about his wild goose-chases to track down famous guitars that were accidentally pawned, then sent to auction, only to re-emerge years later, recognized from a serial number…crazy stuff.

Beck FanWe are so grateful to Beck Rustic, the genius logistics queen who makes the Shake-Up happen each year, for having us and helping us promote the old Event Records analogue gear that is now up and running at Acadia! We’re big fans of her (as are a lot of folks in the rockabilly world)– and made sure to pick up a Beck Fan while we were there…

Oh yeah, did we mention we’re open for business?!

Open for Business