This past week we re-wired the studio and officially expanded the Acadia team to include Jason Phelps as our newest audio engineer! Jason is bringing both expertise and some fantastic gear to Acadia, and we’re looking forward to another productive year making great-sounding records.
Jason is no novice to the music world. He has been engineering sound for live shows since ’85, taught at Buckdancer’s Choice starting in ’97, and co-founded and served as music director at 317 Main Street in Yarmouth. He has also played guitar and mandolin with Jerks of Grass, Treehouse, A Band Beyond Description, and on countless local records.
Jason’s first full-length recording project was the Active Culture’s album Power of Assimilation, engineered at a local studio in Windham using a 1/2″ 16-track analogue unit, and from there he caught the recording bug. Most of his early recording work was small-scale and out of his house. He had a Fostex X15 4-track, and got lots of practice overdubbing tapes to build up multi-track stereo recordings. Around the same time he was playing with Treehouse, which was his first experience in a professional recording environment. The group was pretty green, and wanted to make a record at what was the new Big Sound studios. After a rocky start to the session, their engineer Jeff Whitehead sat everyone down and suggested that perhaps the group wasn’t as prepared as they thought for the project…Treehouse ended up spending a week working on just one song and that session was formative in Jason’s understanding of what goes into real production work and how to function in a professional context.
From there, Jason really started playing bluegrass in earnest, and for a short time abandoned sound engineering in favor of making more music and teaching guitar. Recording technology evolved without him, and when he returned to a studio in 2004, this time with Jerks of Grass, he realized just how much the audio engineering world had changed. He had a hard time expressing what he wanted captured during the session, and knew he needed to be back in the control room. He bought his first copy of Protools shortly after that session and hasn’t looked back.
Conor Mulroy, a composer and one of Jason’s hiking buddies, was the final person instrumental in luring Jason back to the audio engineering world. Conor was in the middle of composing music for his master’s thesis that he eventually wanted performed by The Bee Eaters. Conor had seen the group perform and wrote his compositions hearing their instrumentation–cello, fiddle, and hammer dulcimer–playing in his head. The Bee Eaters had just relocated from Boston to the west coast, and Conor was worried he would never actually have a chance to record his compositions. Jason agreed to work with Conor work on the project, and after helping prepare charts and do pre-production, Jason started to outfit his new mobile recording setup. After much research, he invested in a Focusrite Clarett 8preX interface, UAD 4-710D preamps, Michael Joly Engineering microphones, and Slate Raven multitouch control surface, and hauled his new gear (complete with generators and gas cans) to a remote, off-the-grid gold-rush era cabin in Northern California. There he spent an incredible week recording The Stranded Aviator with Conor and The Bee Eaters, which was just released in 2016. The record was mastered next door by Pat Keane. From there he quickly joined in on projects at Acadia, acting as essential on-call tech support as we upgraded our computer system, and he has been slowly moving into the studio since. His first sessions in the studio were producing a full-length record with Muddy Marsh Ramblers and recording the funky jam band Great North.
We’re looking forward to him heading up many more sessions this year. Additionally, if you’re looking to tackle any crazy on-site recordings, Jason’s still got his mobile recording setup, so Acadia Recording Company can officially come to you! Welcome Jason!