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April 4, 2017 - Special Guest: Don Zientara, Producer & Recording Engineer, Inner Ear Studio

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FROM TODAY'S SHOW

MUSIC

  1. Popular Russians by Braddock Station Garrison (Rock/Power-Pop)
  2. Ophelia by Karen Jonas (Country/Americana)
  3. Meet Me in the Middle by Peter Maybarduk (Indie/Alternative)
  4. No Easy Way Out by Staunton (Rock/Folk)
  5. Tuesday Morning by Hayley Fahey (Rock/Indie Rock)
  6. Alien Drugs by Jackie and the Treehorns (Rock/Alternative Rock)
  7. In Retrospect by Lisa Said (Folk/Alternative)

NEWS & LINKS

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DON ZIENTARA

VIDEO - BIO - LINKS - TRANSCRIPT

Bio from Don:

Grew up in Rochester, NY.  Had several friends in school who knew quite a bit about electronics and taught me to build/design/repair that sort of equipment.

Had old tape recorders all my life.  Also wired them so that it was a sound reinforcement system.  Experimented with electronic design and function.

Studied art at Syracuse University.  BFA in 1970.

Attended graduate school at West Virginia University, majoring in painting and printmaking.  Studied paper construction and restoration.

Was drafted into the Army in 1971.  Lottery.  Number one.

don.jpg

Signed up for electronics training.  After basic training finished, was told there was a surplus of electronic trainees, but would I want to draw and paint portraits for the Army Recruiting Support Center (Cameron Station, Alexandria)?

Accepted the invitation to work there.

Applied for, and received a CO (Conscientious Objector) in 1973.

Went to work for the National Gallery of Art as an exhibits framer and paper conservator.

After about 5 years, became the NGA's audio engineer

Stayed there for another 4 years, then went on to work as studio manager, then on my own.  Have been running Inner Ear Studio ever since.

Have 2 daughters, 5 grandkids, and 1 great-grandkid.  I surf, cook, perform music, and speak to groups (this sounds like a singles ad!!!)

Thanks!  That's all, folks!

 

 Links:

http://innerearstudio.com

INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

Brian:    Don Zientara grew up in Rochester, New York. He studied at Syracuse University. In grad school at West Virginia, he majored in painting and printmaking. Don drafted into the Army in 1971. He signed up for electronics training, but after basic training finished, he was told there was a surplus of electronic trainees so instead, he was offered a position to draw and paint portraits for the Army recruiting support center, which he accepted. His career moved on to the National Gallery of Art as an exhibits framer and paper conservator, and then becoming an audio engineer, which is an amazing transition to me, and he then moved on to work as a recording studio manager, and then eventually, branching out on his own where Inner Ear Studios was born, which has been around for decades at this point.

Don Z:    Yeah.

Brian:    He's got two daughters, five grandkids, and one great-grandkid, and he also surfs, cooks, performs music, and excels in public speaking, which listeners, I got to work with Don because Fellowcraft, my band, recorded our album at Inner Ear Studios, and it was such an honor to work with him in hallowed ground with all those musicians. It's with great pleasure that I introduce Don Zientara.

Don Z:    Aren't there some trumpets somewhere that need to [crosstalk 01:13]?

Brian:    Oh, the proper introduction for you, right?

Don Z:    Exactly.

Brian:    Yes, I need to look at a sound file for some trumpets or something. That would be a great-

Don Z:    Yeah, those English horns, right?

Brian:    Exactly. Now, the first thing right off the bat, as I introduced you, it talked about how you went from the exhibits framer and paper conservator to audio engineer.

Don Z:    Yeah.

Brian:    How did that happen? Can you share that?

Don Z:    Sure. Let me back up a little bit. First of all, just to get in some of the history behind it all. I started off playing guitar because my parents wanted me to study some musical instrument.

Brian:    Nice.

Don Z:    I grew up in a Polish community and in the Polish community, there basically is one sacred instrument, which is the accordion.

Brian:    I guess that makes sense.

Don Z:    Of course.

Brian:    Polish music is kind of known for that.

Don Z:    Absolutely.

Brian:    Yeah.

Don Z:    Yeah, get out and polka.

Brian:    Yeah.

Don Z:    Luckily, I was born at a time when Elvis was coming into vogue.

Brian:    Got it.

Don Z:    I was 10 years old. They actually offered guitar lessons at the place I was at so I bailed on the accordion and I went into guitar.

Brian:    Guitar, got it, which that was more appealing?

Don Z:    Come on.

Brian:    If you're in a Polish community, it seems like accordion would be the hot thing to do.

Don Z:    You look at all the ladies and who do they flock around? The accordion player? No.

Brian:    I'd like to say the accordion player, but no, you're definitely right, it's the guitarist always. It's always the guitarist.

Don Z:    Yeah, or at least you'd like to think so, at least you'd like to think so.

Brian:    Yeah, right, exactly. Got it.

Don Z:    From there, basically, everybody joins a band if you play guitar, but we had no money for amplifiers or anything like that and so, we'd scrounge around on trash day going through and finding all these Magnavox consoles that were thrown out by the people at the time and we made speaker cabinets, a buddy of mine this is, and I had a tape recorder, a Webcor tape recorder-

Brian:    Where was this?

Don Z:    Yeah. This is in Rochester.

Brian:    You're talking about-

Don Z:    Rochester, New York.

Brian:    Rochester, New York.

Don Z:    That we turned into an actual amplifier.

Brian:    Yeah.

Don Z:    We played guitars through this tape recorder amplifier and sang through it. One little, probably about 2 watts, and coming out of these speakers from this cabinet we built out from these Magnavox consoles and it was exciting. We put all these things together and it was real interesting doing this. I had in electronics sort of, kind of dabbling in it to that degree.

      What happened was somehow I went into art school at Syracuse University. I don't know why because I was a mediocre artist, but I figured I was a mediocre artist, but I was failing in English, Math, Science, Chemistry, Biology so we'll take mediocre.

Brian:    It's the one you weren't failing in, is that-

Don Z:    Yeah, it was the one I wasn't failing in.

Brian:    Got it.

Don Z:    Then graduate there, went to West Virginia University like you said and then, I was caught up in the draft lottery.

Brian:    Oh, which was-

Don Z:    You don't remember that? You're too young.

Brian:    Full disclosure, I was not around for the draft lottery at that point, but what I'm curious about is, from everything I've heard, that's a hot topic at the time?

Don Z:    Yeah.

Brian:    That was a contested thing. When you got caught up in that, was it incredibly traumatic? Did you just accept it? What ...

Don Z:    This is the Vietnam War going on and there were a lot of deferments and what was happening was because of all these deferments, some of the people in Congress were saying, "This is not fair. The inequality is all over the place. What we're going to do is we're just going to pick birth dates out of a container like a lottery and we're going to pick number one, number two, number ... " and I was number one in the whole thing.

Brian:    Oh, you were the big winner.

Don Z:    I was the big winner in the thing.

Brian:    Got it.

Don Z:    I was definitely going to go in and I checked upon it and they had some programs going on. I figured I'd keep that in the back of my mind, but I was drafted. I was selected for the draft and when you're selected for the draft, you basically have to have a physical. Everybody knows that, you have an army physical.

Brian:    Yeah.

Don Z:    I went to West Virginia University that year. I said, "I can't take a physical. I'm at West Virginia. I'm in Morgantown, West Virginia." They scrambled and they got things together and moved the physical around to Morgantown. I was back for Christmas vacation in Rochester. I said, "I can't take it. I'm in Rochester, New York." They scrambled around and they fixed it up for Rochester. I was back at West Virginia University again. Come summer time, they got me.

     I figured why don't I get some formal training in electronics? I went into that program, they guaranteed training electronics, went through basic training, went to the place where the school was and waited and then waited some more and waited some more and waited some more. Eventually, I was called into maybe the front office there and they said, "You have a guarantee and we will honor it for this electronic training, but at the moment, there's too many people doing it. We just happen to have a position open in Alexandria, Virginia for people to draw and paint. Would you want to do that?" I figured for about two seconds, would I want to draw and paint rather than shoot people with a gun?

Brian:    The answer was yes, clearly.

Don Z:    The answer was yes, yeah. I took a moment to think about that and so, I came to Alexandria, Virginia, like you said with the recruiting support center there. I got to work on exhibits. That gave me my first taste into presentations as a whole.

Brian:    Oh.

Don Z:    Whether it's audio or visual, I was into presentations and I loved it.

Brian:    Got it.

Don Z:    I went through that thing. As it was, I got out on a CO. I applied for a CO and got out. This was about 1973. Then, I went to the National Gallery of Art.

Don Z:    Worked there matting and framing and doing a little bit of conservation work for getting exhibits ready. Once again, we're in exhibits, we're into presentation.

Don Z:    Eventually, after about five years there, they were giving a tour around to some of the places in the gallery and they were building a recording studio and we toured that. They were hooking things up and wiring things up [inaudible 07:56]. They had problems with the power supply there. I said, "All you have to do is connect it up like this."

Brian:    Yeah.

Don Z:    They said, "Hey, do you want to run this place?"

Brian:    Do you want do this? Yeah.

Don Z:    Yeah, exactly.

Brian:    That's how it happened?

Don Z:    That's how it happened.

Brian:    Just because you fixed ...

Don Z:    Yeah.

Brian:    I love it. Wait, then fast-forward then, so that was how long? You were there for how long?

Don Z:    I was there five years in prints and drawings.

Brian:    Five years.

Don Z:    Then, I was there for about another four or five years in the electronics section, the audio recording section.

Brian:    How did that then become Inner Ear Studios? Was that ...

Don Z:    I went from there to managing a studio, which didn't work out because I couldn't get my hands dirty.

Brian:    Uh-oh, because you were fixing and you were recording-

Don Z:    Yeah, I was pushing papers all the time, administering it, manager.

Brian:    Right.

Don Z:    I didn't like that so, I just started doing stuff totally on my ... Now, I had been recording all this time already.

Brian:    Yeah.

Don Z:    Because I record a lot of the early, Teen Idles, Minor Threat, all that stuff.

Brian:    Yeah, at that time, was that in your basement?

Don Z:    Yes.

Brian:    Was it at the location now?

Don Z:    In my basement.

Brian:    How did you get linked up with them? Just the underground network, they heard of you or how did that happen?

Don Z:    That's a every interesting thing. There's parallel universes going on. I was playing in bands all these times and one of the bands I was in had Robert Goldstein for a guitarist and he has since passed away, but he-

Brian:    For those who don't know, who's Robert Goldstein?

Don Z:    Robert Goldstein was the music librarian towards the end of his life for NPR.

Brian:    Oh. Got it.

Don Z:    He was also a very progressive guitarist and we were like a folk rock band. We played a lot of covers and stuff like that, but he had more talent than I think I had for sure.

Brian:    Right.

Don Z:    Eventually, the band broke up. He went into a band that was more to his taste and called me to record one time when they're playing at I think it was American University. Playing on the same bill were The Slickee Boys so they said, "Hey, you got an extra roll of tape?" I did so I recorded them. Their manager at the time was Skip Groff who was Yesterday and Today Records and he knew all the punk people. I didn't even know punk was around.

Brian:    Right.

Don Z:    I didn't know anything about it, but he came in and worked with the Slickee Boys to mix their tapes and everything and said, "I'd like to bring over some people. These guys, Teen Idles, they might have something to do here." So he came over with them and this, the relationship with a lot of the guys in that band and a little later on he said, "You know, there's a black punk band that I'd like to bring over there. Would you work with them if you don't mind?" I said, "Yeah, sure, sure."

Brian:    Yeah.

Don Z:    They sound good and that was the Bad Brains.

Brian:    Wow.

Don Z:    I was immersed into all this because of just serendipity a lot, very much.

Brian:    I know people are curious because I know I'm curious, too, how did that evolve into ... There's an HBO special at your place, the Foo Fighters recorded at Inner Ear Studios. Did that network continue or how did you get linked up with Dave?

Don Z:    It continued. No, it continued and Scream and Dain Bramage, I did not record Dain Bramage, but I recorded Scream and they were ... Punk was evolving.

Brian:    Yeah.

Don Z:    Punk was evolving more towards the ... It had a little bit of a pop feel to it. Kingface, there were some groups like that and Scream was one of them that had ... They could sing well and they put a really good melody behind songs.

Brian:    Yeah.

Don Z:    Kingface was the same way. A lot of the punk groups were doing that. Basically, I recorded them so I knew Dave from back then.

Brian:    I see.

Don Z:    Then when he broke up ... Didn't break up with Nirvana. Nirvana sort of broke up.

Brian:    Dissolved, yeah.

Don Z:    Dissolved, right, that's a good word.

Brian:    Yeah.

Don Z:    Yes. He came over and he said, "We've got these demos I want to record. Do you want to record these things?" I recorded the demos for him and I actually asked him, "What's the band going to be called?" He said, "The Foo Fighters." I said, "That's a stupid name," yeah.

Brian:    You told him it was stupid?

Don Z:    Yeah.

Brian:    What did he say? [Crosstalk 12:37]

Don Z:    I have struck out on names for bands. The Dismemberment Plan, I took Jason Caddell aside one time and said, "Jason, you've got to change the name of the band. Dismemberment Plan, no one's going to remember that. Come on. Let's get real. Let's get something in there."

Brian:    Yeah.

Don Z:    I have not had a good track record with names of bands. They just haven't worked out with me.

Brian:    Man. Some of these are big personalities that are in the studio. What do you do? You were talking earlier about the conflict between people or we joked marital problems or stuff, when that stuff happens, do you get involved? Do you purposely not get involved?

Don Z:    First of all, usually, people will act on a professional basis and these could be local people, too.

Brian:    Yeah.

Don Z:    They know how to focus pretty well. They don't get involved in a lot of stuff. A lot of the times, it's the people who are, and I'll use the term loosely, amateurs that want to be all over the place. They want to pick their own microphones out. They want to pick the position of the [mount 13:41] in front of the amplifier and, "Why are you using this and why don't we use this? I've seen this being used on YouTube. We should try that," and all that.

     As an engineer I try different things at different points, but as a musician, you should ... I'm speaking for myself, you should not concern yourself with that in a way. You should concern yourself with the way it sounds. You are there to look at the sound of things and making sure that your instrument, whether it's a voice, a guitar amplifier or a base amplifier or a drum set sounds the way you want it to sound. At that point, you can say, "We need more snap in the snare or we need more bottom end to the kick drum."

Brian:    I see.

Don Z:    Not, "We need to use an AKG112 for the kick drum because I've heard that Def Leppard uses that when they record."

Brian:    I got it. Now, I'm with you. All right, and one more question because I want to make sure we place more of the music in here about your work with some of these other artists, but the one question that I love to offer that I'd love to know from you is if you could offer one piece of advice, what would it be?

Don Z:    Focus.

Brian:    Focus.

Don Z:    Focus, rehearse. Focus on what you're doing. Focus on your job and what you're doing and be critical. Be critical. Make sure that everything is turning out the way you want it to turn out, but you need to remember that you have a certain job that you could do 100%. Everybody has their own job and everybody wears a different hat and we should keep it that way.

Brian:    Yeah. Got it. Profound. Now, for those folks who are interested in finding out more about you and what you've got going on, is there a website or where should they go to find that out?

Don Z:    I don't know. Wikipedia?

Brian:    You're just out there doing it. Look up Don Zientara on Wikipedia. That is one way to do it.

Don Z:    Yeah.

Brian:    Innerearstudio.com, check out the website.

Don Z:    Inner Ear Studio has some stuff, but I don't have a website myself. I just call and talk-

Brian:    Got it.

Don Z:    Hey, if anybody wants to call me, call the studio. I talk to them. If anybody's got ideas or wants answers to questions, I love talking about recording, microphones, tape recorders, anything along that line.

Brian:    Got it. All right. Give him a call.

November 1, 2016 - Special Guest: Jason Mendelson

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FROM TODAY'S SHOW

NEWS

MUSIC

  1. Debbie Does Dancing - Jackie and The Treehorns (Rock/Alt Rock)
  2. Favour - French Admirals (Indie/Indie Rock)
  3. All Over the Map - Dumi Right (Hip Hop/Rap)
  4. We Were Here - Maryjo Mattea (Rock/Indie Rock)
  5. Raining Down - Alex The Red Parez (Rock/Acoustic Rock)
  6. Velocirapture - Alex Vans (Hard Rock/Stoner Rock)
  7. Intro/Outro music by Fellowcraft (Hard Rock/Blues)

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JASON MENDELSON

VIDEO - BIO - PHOTOS - TRANSCRIPT

BIO

Jason Mendelson DC Music Rocks

Jason Mendelson is an Alexandria composer and multi-instrumentalist whose MetroSongs project has captured hearts and feet across the D.C. Metro region, infusing the history of each location with a musical flavor all its own. When he's not playing electric 12-string guitar and singing, he can usually be found on various instruments supporting local acts like Selling Fairfax by the Pound, Alex Parez and the Hell Rojos, Jonny Grave and the TombsTones, or Maryjo Mattea and a Pile of Dudes, and has performed on stages all over the area, like the Electric Maid, Black Cat, 9:30 Club, and Kennedy Center Millenium Stage. Jason's studio, An Undisclosed Location, is responsible for involvement in several local projects from bands like The Lucky So & So's, The Iris Bell, the Clara Barton Sessions, Two Dragons & a Cheetah, and more. 

Links:

Official Website URL: www.metrosongs.org

Facebook URL: www.facebook.com/metrosongs/

Metrosongs Album Seriesmetrosongs.bandcamp.com

iTunes Link:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/jason-mendelson/id444880367

Spotify Link: https://open.spotify.com/artist/3y55krTaLxMDamy5J8UgYi

mendelson.jpg
jason mendelson dc music rocks

INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

Brian:   Jason is an Alexandria composer and multi-instrumentalist, whose MetroSongs project has captured hearts and feet across the D.C. Metro region, by infusing the history of each location, which metro songs it's the metro stops, each metro station with a musical flavor all of its own. They're different genres; it's incredible.

 When he's not playing the electric 12-string guitar and singing, he can usually be found on various instruments supporting local acts like Selling Fairfax by the Pound, Alex Parez and the Hell Rojos, Jonny Grave and the Tombstones, or Maryjo and a Pile of Dudes. He's performed on stages all over the area, like Electric Maid, Black Cat, 9:30 Club, The Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. His studio called An Undisclosed Location and as well as performing there, that location is responsible for involvement in several recording projects from bands like The Lucky So and So's, The Iris Bell, The Clara Barton Sessions, Two Dragons and a Cheetah and more.

 Basically this man's musical resume is absolutely incredible because he seems to do everything. You heard him directing the Redskins marching band in a composition that he wrote, as well as performing around town with all different genres of bands. You can hear it on his MetroSongs, all different genres of music for each of the tracks. Basically I've seen this man on stage and I've heard about him and it is such an honor to have him sitting here with me in the studio today. So listen it is with great pleasure that I introduce Jason Mendelson. Please say hi to everybody.

Jason:   Hi everybody and thanks for having me here, Brian.

Brian:   Thanks so much for being here. So now break us down, I want to hear about you but first I want to hear about those tracks-

Jason:   Break you down?

Brian:   Did I say break me down? Break it down.

Jason:   Drill Sergeant.

Brian:   Yeah, yeah, let's not get that serious maybe but let's have some fun. Because Tyson's Corner and Landover - tell me about those tracks we just played.

Jason:   Okay. First was Tyson's Corner. That's off of the new forthcoming MetroSongs album. It's going to be Volume 7: Connections.

Brian:   So we had a sneak preview.

Jason:   Sneak preview. It's not out yet.

Brian:   Volume 6 came out, oh boy, I think earlier this week or last week. It's relatively fresh or it's been out a while?

Jason:   No, no, no, no. It came out like a year ago but it just got on iTunes.

Brian:   Got it. I see.

Jason:   Spotify and other computer-y things.

Brian:   Got it. Okay so we've got Volume 6 and there's still two more volumes to go?

Jason:   Yeah, seven and eight. I'm working on both of them right now.

Brian:   And Tyson's Corner... So when you're writing about the metro stops, do you actually go visit the stops or where do the songs come from?

Jason:   Well, when I first moved here six years ago, there was a lot of field trips involved. 

Brian:   (laughs) Really?

Jason:   The novelty hadn't worn off; I was still playing tourist. So my wife and I would go to different things around town and we'd take the metro a lot and so it was just natural that we'd end up taking trips that involved passing through all these metro stations. I have to admit I have not been to every single one that I've written about, but I do a lot of online research. I'll usually start with Wikipedia and then find actual credible resources that are linked there. So there's a lot of homework involved.

Brian:   The song Tyson's Corner seems to talk about a story. Is that one that you actually had or where do you draw from for that?

Jason:   That's a fictional story. I just had the idea of a guy who had maybe been shot down in a marriage proposal and then some time goes by and they happen to reconnect and maybe there's a second chance there.

Brian:   Wow, okay. So it's a story and it's set in Tyson's Corner. I'm following you now. Do you develop the song and the composition? How does it come together? Because you've got all these different genres ... I encourage you to listen to his tracks because all of them are different. There's some hip hop, there's some blues, there's some swing. It seems like every genre ... That one was almost reminded me of a high school - no I can't say high school musical - but a musical, like a Broadway musical. The way that it felt it was kind of, when I'm listening to it, that was what it reminded me of. Where do you get the idea for all the compositions?

Jason:   Well that one I wanted to do ... So part of the challenge that I've baked in the MetroSongs for myself is to do some of the songs as a pastiche of another artist. So that one I was going for Ben Folds Five.

Brian:   Aha, okay.

Jason:   And it features a few friends of mine who are part of the ... we're kind of a ... I hate to say band, it's more like a loose conglomerate of vocal musicians here in D.C. who we performed under the name Skin Folds Five.

Brian:   Oh man! Awesome, okay.

Jason:   That was Derek Evry on backup vocals, Pat Frank on drums and Kevin de Souza on bass and then I played piano and sang lead vocals.

Brian:   Well you guys seem to put some incredible things together. And are they featured on various other tracks throughout the albums?

Jason:   No just that one. But the theme of this next album is ... It's called Connections and so almost all the songs on this next albums they will be ... they're collaborations with other artists.

Brian:   Oh fantastic.

Jason:   Like Tyson's with those guys. So yeah all but a few of them ... that's why it's taken so long, I've been working on this album for like a year.

Brian:   Got it. Finding time for everybody.

Jason:   Coordinating schedules, it’s like herding cats, whatever you want to call it.

Brian:   (laughs) We won't tell the other musicians that it's like herding cats but yes probably like that. Yep, I would imagine.

Jason:   I think musicians understand that's how it is.

Brian:   (laughs) Do we?

Jason:   I don't think I'm hurting any feelings there.

Brian:   (laughs) Very good. I like it. Now what about Landover then? That was the track that you ... Tell me more. You directed the Redskins marching band? How did that happen? How did that come about?

Jason:   Oh okay. So a friend of mine at work plays sousaphone for the Washington Redskins marching band and so for years he and I have talked and mostly things like "Oh, I'd love to write a song for you guys," thinking in the back of my mind like that's awesome but is that going to happen? But it finally did. My friend Micah talked to the director and I guess they were keen to the idea so I got out my very best pencil and wrote a tune for Landover which is pretty close to the FedEx Field there. I think they normally direct people to Morning Boulevard Station but I didn't have a song for that station.

Brian:   Right, okay. So they got Landover.

Jason:   Yeah so they got Landover. And I just wrote a little tune, just went for that marching band college fight song feel and they were the nicest people. I can't thank them enough for allowing me to come and hang out at rehearsal and for playing my song. And I got to conduct the band which was really exciting, and we recorded it there at FedEx Field and you heard it.

Brian:   So let's transition into you now, because so now you're directing a marching band, and yet you also compose and do these other things. What's your background? Have you been a band director before or was that new? How does the music start or where does that story come from with you?

Jason:   Okay, well I first started playing on a little toy keyboard that my grandparents got me when I was three or four years old. And then fifth grade I started playing trombone with the school band. I played that all the way through college. But in high school I started playing piano and guitar. There was a piano in the band room so I would get to school early and just fool around on the piano and since I already knew sheet music I had a good basis to start running with. So I knew music. It's not like I was taking lessons. So many people say, "Oh I took piano lessons when I was a kid" and then they never play again. It's because they're forced to play things like Mary Had a Little Lamb and stuff they're just not interested in.

 So since I was totally self-directing the learning process I was able to just play the rock and roll that I was actually interested in so that's how I started playing piano and guitar and sadly I don't play much trombone anymore because it's the kind of instrument that you have to play every day or your muscles in your face just go to mush. I don't have that problem with piano and guitar and bass and accordion and mandolin and all that foolishness. So that's kind of what I do now.

Brian:   Wow. Okay and it came together. Tell all the musical things you're doing now. You're recording, you're performing ... What are they? 

Jason:   Yeah, I play with a few different bands in the D.C. area here which is pretty standard for D.C. musicians. I play bass and keyboard for Jonny Grave and I play bass for Alex Parez. I play lead guitar for Maryjo Mattea. And there's other various projects, one-off things I get involved with here and there.

Brian:   Got it. Okay. Now what about so now you not the musician, in your personal time are you a hardcore marathon trainer, are you a yoga fanatic?

Jason:   No

Brian:   Do you play chess? What is outside of music consistent for you, or is there?

Jason:   Well I'm pretty busy with music, so my free time is divided between the music we've been talking about and hanging out with my wife. We like to go and do things like nature-y kind of things like parks or nerdy stuff like museums.

Brian:   Got it.

Jason:   We've been doing a little bit of road trip stuff ... like day trip stuff lately.

Brian:   Wow, cool.

Jason:   We recently went up to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania which seems like the most random thing, but it's a cool little town so we had a lot of fun there.

Brian:   Wow, all right. Well now what's one thing you love about the D.C. music scene?

Jason:   Well it's a great community. Artists really look out for each other and it's just a really friendly kind of thing, which is nice for someone like me who is not doing music for a living. This is my hobby, so I appreciate that. But yeah it's especially great for those musicians here from D.C. who do make a living as artists. I think it would be very discouraging if it were any different.

Brian:   Yeah, okay. Tell us a story about your best show. What comes to mind?

Jason:   I had a really cool opportunity to host a show at the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center.

Jason:   Jonny Grave had a project called the Clara Barton Sessions that was involved the Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office Museum in Chinatown in D.C. There was an acoustic recording that was made there and the musicians got to perform the songs at the Kennedy Center and I was the audio engineer for that so me and the video producer got to be the hosts.

Jason:   So that was a lot of fun and I really liked that I didn't have to haul any gear around. Just show up.

Brian:   (laughs) Anybody who's done any kind of sound or musicians, oh my goodness, sometimes there ... I'm a drummer ... there is a lot of gear sometimes.

Jason:   Yeah. You chose poorly.

Brian:   (laughs) When it comes to gear, definitely. But that's why you also get really good at the gear share. How can we share these things so not everybody has to bring everything?  Tell a story about the time you tried and failed?

Jason:   Well MetroSongs Volume 4. I tried to do a Kickstarter to raise just a few bucks to cover costs of that and it went horribly just because I was spread too thin, I couldn't really focus on it and I think because I play in so many different bands and stuff I don't really devote the time I should to promoting my own stuff. So I can't really say I have a huge drawing yet. But I've got a live group that's great and we've been doing some shows and we've been working on building that up.

Brian:   My god, you've certainly got ... in terms of if your resume is the songs you've got, you've got six volumes now, two more coming and the product's amazing. I love the diverse product that you come across with, it's incredible when I see you.

Jason:   Thank you

Brian:   Now, do you have any rules? Like with the band or as an artist? What kind of rules do you have and are there any you always break?

Jason:   Oh, well since I do so much recording there's always little things that I'm trying to remember to do, and then a lot of times I forget them. And a lot of it just involves going through the stuff and making sure it's really 100% perfect. There's one thing as a rule that I've tried to remember to do and I'm horrible, it seems like I never remember is when I'm recording a bass part I always try to remember to use an old Motown trick where they would double the bass with another rhythm guitar.  And somehow I always randomly think to myself, oh yeah next song I've got to remember to double the guitar. And I always forget to do it. It's out there, too late.

Brian:   (laughs) Old Motown trick; I love it. And the last thing I'd like to ask is so the one piece of advice if you were to offer, what would that be?

Jason:   Well for musicians I would say just learn as much stuff as you can and build up your skill set. A lot of musicians start out by just learning the guitar or whatever and then that's all they can do. Just take a little time and learn some other instruments or what's really helpful is learning recording techniques and the gear is so cheap now. I think even any MacBook computer comes with GarageBand or something for free. So the home recording is so much more accessible than it used to be. It's really worth the time to learn some techniques there.

Brian:   Wow, very cool. Well thank you for your thoughts and your insights.