Accidental Providence Installment # 6
I promised Zombieslayer a post about my short venture into the world of record producers, fusion guitarists, "shred-heads" and, of course, those vultures who bring all fun to a halt -- lawyers and record distributors. Dear ZS... I hope this meets with your approval. One day sometime in 1990, I believe, I came home from work and Denise told me she had met some new neighbors and they were real nice. She said that “Mark” produced and recorded music – he was working on a children’s CD. I remember thinking to myself, “So, what’s new… everyone in Nevada City is recording a CD.” Well, we got together for dinner and I met Mark Varney and his charming family. He was a school psychologist and we talked about everything except music. The conversation turned to faith, so we invited them to church. One Sunday, Mark and I were chatting after our gathering and he told me that his brother was a record producer – Mike Varney. I said, “Do you mean Mike Varney of The Nuns?” His mouth dropped open and he said, “You’ve heard of The Nuns?” I said, “Sure, I’m a huge John Cipollina fan.” Well, we were instant pals and began gushing on about shared guitar heroes. he asked if I'd ever heard of Allan Holdsworth. "Sure! Gong and UK!" As it turned out, Mark had his own record label, Legato Records. He had signed Frank Gambale and was about to produce a CD with Gambale and Holdsworth shredding over some fusion standards, with Chick Corea's Elektric Band. Here are some of the highlights of our association with Legato Records:
- Denise became the office and business manager, the FAX machine and phone were in our closet and much of the Legato catalogue resided in our basement!
- As the office and business manager, Denise had a wonderful phone relationship with some of the hottest young guitar talent of the late 80's and early 90's. As one unaffected by stardom and fame, she was the perfect "mother figure" to shepherd many a young, aspiring Berklee student through the contract process and into the grinder, er, I mean the music business.
- After proving ourselves competent and discriminating in our taste for searing guitar solos, Mark delegated to us the responsibility of picking up the five or six demo tapes we received daily at the PO Box and screening them. Mark was a busy man. I remember fondly coming home from work and playing speed metal, fusion and other forms of guitorture, full blast as Denise cooked supper.
- I drove Mark to Los Angeles to record Truth in Shredding and we stayed at my in-laws house for the weekend in the studio. I got to carry the master tapes (joy!).
- We found Frank Gambale at his home... he had just finished tiling his bathroom floor... part of a remodel he was doing himself. Frank was absolutely wonderful.
- We sat in the sound booth through the entire recording, with Frank Gambale soloing within a few feet, while the Elektric Band shared the studio. It was recorded live with very few retakes or overdubs.
- Mark and I drove the masters to Allan Holdsworth's home, where we met his wonderful wife and children. Alan, his wife, Mark and I went out for supper at a posh Indian restaurant in Costa Mesa.
- Alan is a huge brew fan, so I joined him for a beer at his home.
- We left the masters with Alan, who recorded his solos and mixed the final CD in "The Brewery," his private studio.