Juju Max

Delta Moon is in the studio again, and loving it.

We’ve made a few albums now, and along the way we’ve learned a few things about the way we like to record and what works for us. With modern digital recording, every track can be recorded separately and then pieced together and corrected and refined until each note is technically perfect. That may be good enough for pop radio, but it is not the Delta Moon way. We’d rather sit down together in one room at the same time and see if we can get some grease and juju going. It’s not always about the notes but what’s between the notes.

Of course that’s not to say we never do overdubbing or other editing. Vocals usually come later, and we might want to add an organ or a conga or whatever. But we prefer technology to serve us and not the other way around. These days the basic tracks of a Delta Moon song – drums, bass, and two slide guitars – are usually laid down at the same time. We use no click track and let it bleed.

For the deepest possible juju we like using old, organic gear. Guitars with ghosts in them. Here’s my rack for last week’s session, a 1940s Oahu Tonemaster, a 1950s Harmony StratoTone and a 1930s Gibson Roy Smeck Stage Deluxe:

Mark showed his liking for 1960s Italian guitars with a Crucianelli and a Wandre alongside a couple American classics, a Supro Clermont and “Old Red,” a Jerry Jones remake of the Danelectro U-2. He also played an old Bakelite Rickenbacher lap steel that somebody converted to a Spanish neck.

The heart of the session was a hundred-year-old maple Leedy parade bass drum. Last year when my friend Charles Wolff learned he was dying of pancreatic cancer, he gave many of his musical instruments to people he thought would appreciate them. He gave me this drum and a matching snare. Darren got new heads for it and texted me from the percussion store, “The guys here are going crazy over this drum.” The tremendous sound of that Leedy bass drum is the rock the rest of this record will stand upon. Thank you, Charles.

Franher borrowed a middle-school tuba for one song.

Distortion master Jeff Bakos got into the act and decided to use only 1950s and 1960s microphones and preamps. Jeff has experience making this kind of record with Sean Costello, Shemekia Copeland and other acts, and he knows how to do a lot with a little. He’s also studied old photographs of classic rock and blues acts in the studio. “The Beatles,” Jeff said, pointing to the bass drum head, “always placed this mic either here or here.” This is Jeff’s rack of Ampex mic preamplifiers harvested from old portable tape decks and modified to taste:

We’ve got some intense touring coming up and won’t be able to get the full band back in the studio until June. I for one can’t wait.

2 replies
  1. Anna
    Anna says:

    Thanks for the post. I learned a lot reading this. My instrument was the Baritone and Trombone so what do I know about guitars – only that I love hearing you guys play them.

  2. Tom Clarke
    Tom Clarke says:

    Great to hear you’re back in action and feeling great. Juju Max–that would make one heck of an album title!!


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