Preparing for Playmakers on February 15
I usually enjoy rehearsals more than actual concerts in point of fact, but it would be hard to enjoy anything more than we did the two nights at Cat’s Cradle in Dec. last. However, there was a quality to our rehearsals with just the “orchestration” (strings, winds, brass, piano, acoustic guitars), before Jody got to town, that was very moving at times. In a recording, you can combine the acoustic sound of quiet strings and loud drums, no problem: you just do them at separate times or in separate rooms. On a stage together, drums and amplified instruments will drown out violins, you have to put pickups on them to make them heard, and of course the players’ hearing is also restricted, and the pickups do not capture the sound of the instruments, far from it, even the best ones (and we had about the best). The sound of the instrument forms in the air in a radius of several feet. In our acoustic rehearsals the players were able to use all their finest skills to make the chords ring true, they could really hear every nuance of each other’s playing. So we’re putting a different spin on things and doing a version without string pickups. In place of Jody and Mitch’s fire will be the emotional reach of the inner workings of the arrangements. Trust me, it’s very special, and it’s never been heard outside the confines of the recording studio. Please join us at the Historic Playmakers Theatre at UNC on Feb. 15, come wallow in the sound.
And don’t forget that, starting at 2 p.m. that afternoon at Wilson Library, there’s more: a multimedia exposition on the life and works of Jim Dickinson (who produced Big Star Third) given by his wife, Mary; followed by yours truly interviewing John Fry and Jody Stephens, live by Skype from Memphis, on the record. They are going to go from original demo to isolated elements of the multitrack tape to finished record of one of the Third songs–can’t wait for this! We also hope to have footage of Carl Marsh, the arranger of the record, discussing his role and the creative process and Alex Chilton’s input into the arranging he did, with some live examples played by some of the concert’s string players.