My Day (well night, actually) at Dirt Floor…
This past Saturday I had the pleasure of playing a concert series at the incredible Dirt Floor Recording Studios in Chester, CT. The studio is owned and operated by my dear friend, fellow songwriter, and insanely talented musician Eric Lichter. Eric has one of the biggest heart’s I know and to be able to come and play at his place was a true honor. Little did I know what I was going to experience would be a truly amazing and moving evening of music…
I knew I was in for something special when I came to the end of the exit ramp off of Route 9. Directly in front of me was a very New England style colonial type building. Something that had been obviously restored, but looked like it might house all sorts of antique treasures, charm, and secrets from the past. I continued to the left past farmhouses and fields, a water logged field that looked as if a herd of moose and some bears might be stopping to take a drink in it and I honestly wouldn’t have been surprised. It has this quaint, yet vast beauty driving out to the studio that really puts you in a place of relaxation and a meditative contemplative state. It’s that rare feeling you get when feelings of being completely content meet with an almost sort of “holy shit, I’m high” (yet I wasn’t stoned, I swear) feeling overtaking your body.
As I took a right past a big lake, and then dove back into the trees I happened upon a sign up against a telephone pole displaying the namesake of the studio. I turned into the gravel drive, drove up past stacked cairns leading me to my destination in the woods. Streams running along side the property sending out cascading echoes of running water that some people pay shitloads of money to have generated by a machine and fall asleep to. My windows would be open all the time if I lived up here and man, do I wish I did.
As is standard in Eric and my relationship, I was greeted with a big warm hug and a “welcome to Dirt Floor”. Went inside to see the studio where some earlybird patrons were waiting on couches and chairs, hanging around and just inhaling the vibe of the studio. There is something truly special and completely unique about this space. It is warm, it is inviting, it just has something that not many places have. Part cabin, part actual home with its pretty damn nice kitchen, it just is comforting to be there. The house matches the proprietors and studio personnel as Eric, Steve, and Skip were all happy to have myself, Patrick and Greg there to share our songs. I took a little self guided tour of the property, walked the edges of the lawn that border woods rising up around the house, its own natural amphitheater in the wilderness. And man, I just felt at ease.
Back in the studio there is something you can’t ignore. The GEEEEAAAAAAAHR man. The set up here at Dirt Floor is incredible. Separate vocal rooms, the big live room that spans most of the first floor with its piano and slew of stringed instruments lining the walls. The mastering room in its own little nook of the house separate from the main control room. The place really has it all…and then there are the microphones.
Mics were being hung as I first walked into the place and I think I drooled a little bit. These Telefunken mics are absolutely gorgeous and man, they sound even better. Playing back some of the tracks that Steve Wytas recorded from the live show was breathtaking in the control room. It just sounded so damn good. I think I looked at them and said “dude, that’s not me, right? I just sounds too good to be me”.
Playing a live show here fell somewhere between playing in my own living room and at my favorite listening room type venue. I felt so comfortable that it was like me playing a new song for my cats (yes, feline cats…not like “those cool cats down at the club”) at home, but the environment and the atmosphere with the wonderful people there to listen just felt so good. I left the studio that night not caring about my 2+ hour trek back home. I left feeling lifted, feeling better about music, better about life, better about the people who I get to call friends and musical cohorts. That to me is a beautiful thing.
It’s hard to place my finger on, but there is just something extraordinary about this place. I think it lays in a combination of the people you work with, the environment you are in, and the expertise on expert equipment. A trifecta that when it comes together makes for an exceptional experience where you enjoy creating music how it is supposed to feel and sound. In a time where anyone can buy a laptop, an SM58 and an M Box and make music that sounds “good” I think that is something that we should not and CANNOT let go of. Music isn’t supposed to just sound good, it’s supposed to feel good. That is what Dirt Floor Studios does. It makes you feel good while you are creating music that will sound phenomenal.
I will be back to Chester, CT to record. I can promise you that and I can promise you that you WANT to record here. No, you NEED to record here.