[Jeff Blackwell is the lucky guy who was recently bestowed an incredible collection of lost recordings from the Old South Jamboree from 1973 to 1976.The recordings include performances from many local Louisiana acts of the era, but the Old South Jamboree’s roster also included true luminaries of country music, including: George Jones, Buck Owens, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Ernest Tubb, and Porter Wagoner. Jeff took on the daunting task of archiving these 16 reels of history to the digital world, and his PreSonus StudioLive 16.4.2 had a hand in it! I called Jeff and got the word from the horse’s mouth on this once-in-a-lifetime story. WBRZ recently aired a piece on this tale as well, embedded below—note StudioLive front-and-center in the video—but I HAD to talk to Jeff about some of the nittier, grittier details of this fascinating project.]
Hey Jeff! First, can I get some background on yourself and your work in audio?
Jeff: “I was a DJ at WYNK-FM back in the day—they are still on the air today. Back then, we used to sign on at 5 a.m. and sign off at midnight, it wasn’t a 24-hour station. We’d turn the transmitter on every morning before the show. They would pay me 45 cents an hour plus all the records I could eat!”
How did you come across the tapes?
Jeff: “Well, Going back in time… back in the 70s, WYNK would broadcast the shows from the Old South Jamboree every Saturday night. There were a few shows like that back in the day, like Louisana Hayride, which goes back to the 50s. That’s where Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, all the old greats got their start to the music biz. Anyhow, another guy who worked at WYNK, Page Dew, knew a guy who had been recording these Old South Jamboree shows at home on a consumer reel-to-reel deck—a total of about sixteen reels.”
How was the condition and quality of the original recordings?
Jeff: “Well, most were quarter-track recorded at 1 7/8 ips. Doesn’t provide a heckuva lot of bandwidth! When quality is at stake, faster tape speed is preferred to create more bandwidth, but that didn’t happen here. Not only did I have limited bandwidth to work with, but these songs were recorded off the air from a mono FM radio broadcast. Next, add that the band was recorded with only three mics, and their signal was being transmitted by a Marti transmitter (used for remote broadcasts back in the day), sent to an FM station, and then recorded by a listener at home at only 1 7/8 ips!”
“So, It was a really challenge to get quality out of that source. But when you hear it, it puts you in a very different frame of mind. It takes a listener back to a different era, when one speaker getting music out of the air was enough, regardless of how it sounded! When I heard the first reel I was transported back in time.”
Any way we can track down the guy who provided the tapes? Are there any more?
Jeff: “He’s long gone. I talked to Page, who lives in Colorado, and asked him that. He said that this guy and these tapes are dated from early 1973 to 1976. He said it was an old listener, and apparently someone at the station gave him the reels to record these shows—tape was six or seven bucks per reel back then.”
What hardware did you use to transfer and restore the recordings?
Jeff: “I used the StudioLive 164.2’sEQ on these recordings because I really love the Fat Channel. I was first on the list when I heard the StudioLive was coming out. Once I got my hands on it I was like ‘Cool!’ It’s my main console, everything goes through it to get into the computer.”
“My wife found the reel-to-reel I used, a Pioneer quad, at a garage sale. Got it for 50 bucks. The material recorded at 1 7/8 ips would only play at 3 ¾ ips on this tape machine, so it was still twice as fast as real time. Of course I couldn’t EQ that, so I had to pitch it down in software and then run it through the StudioLive. There were 3 reels recorded at 7.5 ips that I could process through the StudioLive directly before taking it to software for fine-tuning, pitch correction, and noise reduction.”
Will the recordings be made publicly available? Or is releasing all these old songs form these artists a licensing nightmare?
Jeff: “Exactly. Contracts were looser back then. I gotta tell ya, over 90-95 percent of this music was performed by local artists. Some are way out of tune, some can’t hit notes, and of course the mix was awful by today’s standards. I need to be careful about the copyright issues. Several friends of mine have asked for copies, there were a couple of artists who were pretty popular in the day who are now gone, singing some of their hits.”
Thanks, Jeff. Anything else to add about the StudioLive?
Jeff: “I don’t use it as a typical recording or musician-guy. Most of my use has been for advertising and corporate events. I learned early on that if I was gonna work with bands, I had to work with no budgets and weird hours! I figured that wasn’t for me.”
“Since I’ve had the StudioLive, I’ve recorded Scott Innes, whose voice credits include Scooby Doo and Shaggy, who lives in Baton Rouge. I’ve also done quite a bit of work with Warner Bros. using the StudioLive.”
“Another thing I use it for is the Louisiana State Medical Society Annual House Delegates meeting. I use the StudioLive’s noise gates on their mics—it’s a big live room, and there’s a lot of interaction going on. So, I don’t have to worry about running gain on my mics. I love it. It has that finesse I need to mute a mic when not in use, but when the person starts talking it breaks the gate… good to go! I also rent a StudioLive 24.4.2 for the annual Acadian Ambulance Service Paramedic of the Year award program. More like a theatrical event with lots of wireless mics, skits and over 80 sound cues!”
John Mlynczak, Education Market Manager for PreSonus, shares a bit about the benefits of using the PreSonus AudioBox Studio during your students’ performance assessments. With the AudioBox Studio, students can record their tests in private, and you can listen and evaluate them at home!
For more on the AudioBox Studio and Studio One, visit the following links:
Join us today at http://www.presonus.com/videos/presonuslive!
[This just in from the kind folks at Source Distribution! Oasis UK, top-draw Oasis tribute band and all-around best dudes ever are major StudioLive advocates and took the time to share some stories from the road about their experience with their mixers of choice. ]
Gigging with the StudioLive:
Behind the Scenes with Oasis UK:
Bonus “What’s the Story (Morning Glory)” performance:
[International Sales Director of Mystery Mark Williams reports from the inner sanctum of La Gruta! Fortunately for us, his 6G geniusphone prototype was able to acquire adequate reception to get these photos out from deep within a quarter-mile of Mexican bedrock.]
“I had lunch today at La Gruta with one of our Mexican distributors. The restaurant is inside a volcanic cave that was used by the Mayans and also played a part in the Mexican Revolution. It was established in 1906. There’s nothing like an interesting lunch environment after a week of presentations, demos, clinics, foiled assassination attempts, and meetings.”
[This just in from Lu Rojas of Oak Street Recording, who along with Mike Montero recently had a great experience with a rig of four StudioLives and Studio One!]
Hey PreSonus! I just wanted to let you guys know about a recent experience we had with some of your products. On Tuesday April 30 at Harrah’s Theater in New Orleans, we recorded Allen Toussaint’s 75th Birthday Tribute & Benefit. All proceeds were donated to the New Orleans Artists Against Homelessness & Hunger.
We had four StudioLive 16.4.2 mixers. We slaved the first two units together, and then sent a submix from those mixers into the next two mixers, which were also slaved together. The first pair were connected to a custom-built PC running Capture 2, and the second pair were connected to a Macbook Pro, also running using Capture 2. From there, a stereo mix was sent to a CD burner, for reference, and to the HD broadcast truck for WLAE/PBS. The broadcast truck in turn sent us SMPTE time code, which we recorded to both computers for syncing after the fact. They also sent us a video feed so we could mix audio to the video. I handled mixing on the first pair of mixers (drums, bass, piano, main vocal & percussion) and Mike Montero handled the mix on the second pair of mixers—horns, guitars, vocals & audience mics. Mike also handled the mix of the overall balance between both sets of StudioLive mixers, as my mix was being submixed into his mix!
Neither Mike or I had worked with the StudioLives in such a situation before, and we had concerns about figuring out our workflow before showtime. Everything was so simple to figure out, that we ended up having downtime before the show! Imagine that… time to eat and have some coffee and not stressing over whether we had our asses covered! Another thing that impressed us was how well the compressors worked on the mixer. I always worry in a live atmosphere when a microphone is being handed around from artist to artist, and not being able to catch the one that is going to overload the microphone. Fortunately, the compressor section worked like a charm even when switching from artist to artist on the main vocal mic. We had Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas, Elvis Costello, Deacon John, Jon Cleary, Cyril Neville, Dr. John, Joe Stampley and Joe Henry. The important thing was that we got the main vocal to always sit right on top of the mix without it sounding squashed or distorted.
As of now I have installed Studio One on Mike Montero’s computer, and he will be mixing the audio from here out. Thanks guys!
[This just in from PreSonus Artists MayTree, Korean barbershop powerhouse(s) who have been using the StudioLive 16.0.2 for their performances for a while now. They recently added an ADL 700 to the fold and have nothing but kind things to say about it!]
Hello PreSonus! We are MayTree from South Korea. We are writing this email to thank you for the ADL 700. We were all impressed by the high quality of sound and also the appearance. When we first opened the box, we all screamed because ADL 700 is so much sexier than we expected.
We right away hooked it up with the gear we have for recording, then we were so satisfied with the clarity of the sound and the powerful compressor. Now we will produce an album, and will include the ADL 700 in the process and show people how awesome it is.
Thank you so much again, and we will send you music as soon as we finish recording with ADL700.
All the best,
The hits (and laughs) keep on rolling with this team. Here are more of their StudioLive-produced acoustic (and one kinda-acoustic) videos from Leo Moracchioli and friends. Great stuff!
Acoustic cover of Alter Bridge – Blackbird:
Acoustic (kinda) cover of Black Sabbath – Paranoid:
Metal guitar sound test: