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Laurel Michaels: Making the CD

Interview with Laurel Michaels

How did you end up recording the Crescent Sky CD?

Well, over the years, I had written all these songs, some of which I really loved. I had made demo tapes along the way of course, but none of them really captured the sound I was looking for.

OK, so this next sentence will reveal in glaring detail that I'm slow on the uptake... but... I eventually realized that what I needed was a PRODUCER!!

And so the hunt for a producer began. I was introduced to Darleen Wilson, who is just a wonderful person, very excited about my music and very fun to work with. However, when the time came to get started, it turned out her schedule didn't work with mine, so she pointed me to someone else. The someone else flaked out almost immediately, but before flaking entirely, pointed me to Stephen Webber, and EUREKA! I knew I had found the producer for me.

Tell me about working with Stephen.

Stephen is a gem.

He produced records in Nashville for 10 years and teaches music production and engineering at Berklee College of Music, so he knows country and knows his way around a studio.

More than that, he knows how to LISTEN. For one thing, he can listen to a non-technical description of a sound and translate that into making it happen with the machines in the studio. For another thing, he knows how to listen to the moods and needs of various players and do whatever it takes to bring out the best performance. He's a diplomat and an even-keeled presence, which is a true joy in the studio.

On top of all that, he's an extremely accomplished multi-instrumentalist -- he played most of the electric guitar parts, mandolin, and piano on the CD.

Where did you record Crescent Sky?

We did most of the recording at Blue Jay recording studio in Carlisle, MA. So much great music has been recorded and mixed there over the years -- the vibe was wonderful, very comfortable and friendly. We recorded the steel guitar and dobro tracks in Nashville. Predictably, that was an adventure! I had been to Nashville quite a new times before, but it's always fascinating to see the cast of characters, not to mention the unbelievable density of sheer musical ability there. It was fun.

Who wrote the songs on the CD?

I wrote them all, and I'm singing lead vocals on all of them too.

Who played on the CD?

Stephen did a fantastic job of selecting players -- each and every one of them outdid themselves to create a wonderful musical home for my songs. I had played gigs with some of the musicians before, and some were a new pleasure to meet and work with. I'm so grateful to them all:

Jon Aldrich: backing vocals
Steve Hinson: pedal steel
Chris Joslin: dobro
Matt Leavenworth: fiddle
Stan Martin: B-bender Telecaster
Laurel Michaels: lead vocals and acoustic guitar
Donna McElroy: backing vocals
Seth Pappas: drums
Stephen Webber: electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin, piano
Jesse Williams: bass

Laurel Michaels: Crescent Sky