in the studio

2009-May24-Champlain400 085[small]

Reel des nouveaux mariés (the 'newlyweds reel')

Staffers know it, so do many listeners. Local musicians definitely know it. The performance space in the heart of Vermont Public Radio’s Colchester offices is one of the acoustically finest recording studios in the state.

I spent today in there, interviewing and hosting several musicians for a showcase we’re producing. It’s part of the station-wide project celebrating this year’s Lake Champlain Quadricentennial anniversary. Not sure when today’s session will air. Possibly in early July. Keep an eye here, I’ll let you know.

The day started off on the right foot (and the left, and the left-right-left!) with Lisa Ornstein and André Marchand, the French-Canadian fiddler and guitarist/singer duo. They’re in town for a concert this evening at UVM but took a little time to stop by and share some of their wide repertoire of chansons, dances, reels and other traditional tunes. They’re great. Lisa has a longstanding connection to this area, as a protégée of the legendary fiddler Louis Beaudoin. Among André’s credits is several years with Quebec’s Juno-winning La Bouttine Souriante. We all got a laugh from Lisa describing her move from Canada back to the family home, after graduating: “It was in Maine. Northern Maine. So far North in fact that when I moved back there I had to go NORTH from Québec City to get there!”

Marty, Robert and me in the studio (ace audio engineer Chris Albertine in the background)

Marty, Robert and me in the studio (ace audio engineer Chris Albertine in the background)

Next up was one of my favorite local acts, the Burlington-based duo of Robert Resnik and Marty Morrissey. With more than 30 instruments and 50 years of experience between them (25 of those years playing together), these two really know how to share some learning, have a great time, and get everyone else involved in the fun too. And why not? There’s a lot to keep a songwriter entertained here: a rich maritime and military history, wildly unpredictable weather, breathtaking natural beauty (every season!), Champ (Lake Champlain’s elusive answer to the Loch Ness monster), farming culture, and…yep, even rock snot. And other invasive species.

After a short break we were joined by singer/songwriter Alan Greenleaf. A farmer himself, fittingly, he had spent the earlier part of the day playing at the opening weekend of a local farmer’s market. He offered a final set of original songs ranging from the whimsical to the poignant, covering everything from the flood of 1927 to the austere landscape of our northern winters, and that hallowed Vermont summertime tradition, the Strolling of the Heifers. Really. Greenleaf likes to describe this as the rare parade that’s not about wars.

This was just one of those days where I feel lucky. Blessed to live where I do, fortunate to be involved in special gatherings like this, and grateful to have the ears and eyes to be able to take it all in.

Thanks to everyone who was part of today’s recording session.

The final words for the day come from Mr. Greenleaf: “I never get tired of looking out the window. This is a beautiful place we live in, Vermont. It’s worth a lot of songs.”

For further exploration:

Robert Resnik & Marty Morrissey’s Old and New Songs of Lake Champlain

Alan Greenleaf: Singer/Songwriter/Farmer

(Lisa Ornstein’s website is currently in development. I’ll add the link here when it’s ready.)



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