What do you do if you are a musician and your dream of releasing a new record is put on hold or altered by a pandemic the likes of which haven't been seen in 100 years?
If you are sisters Amelia Jacobs, Rosalie Graber and Rachel Graber of Call Me Spinster, you convert one of your bedrooms into a recording studio and get back to work. If you are Todd and Scott Smith of Smith & Wesley, or Dan "Danimal" Pinson, Clay Maselle, Tyler Martelli and Eric "Crispy" Crisp of Strung Like a Horse, you put things on hold for a bit and then go ahead and release the project you'd already spent months creating.
All three are area bands, and all three have or will have new products on the market this year. How they got there, and how they will proceed, offers a look into the current music world.
Strung Like a Horse have added to their fanbase through clever social media campaigns and live virtual shows. Smith & Wesley have traveled the country performing, doing lots of in-person radio and industry conference appearances, as well as consistently releasing singles for radio. Call Me Spinster have played mostly in the local area.
The sisters will release their self-titled five-song EP on Dec. 11. Smith & Wesley released their third album, "Land of Y'all," in September, and Strung released their major-label debut, "WHOA!," Oct. 30.
The latter two were completed before the pandemic hit, and originally set to be released around the time COVID-19 shut things down. Call Me Spinster had gone into Chase Park Transduction's studios in Athens, Georgia, in January to do some preproduction work and were set to return when the coronavirus began sweeping the country.
"We continued to work and had to learn how to self-engineer using a program called Reaper completely from scratch," Amelia says.
New advances have made recording at home extremely possible for musicians, but one of the things home recorders quickly learn is that your house is probably not as quiet as you think.
"We built a sound booth with furniture pads and mattresses, and enlisted boyfriends and friends doing things like background claps. And then we'd listen to [the recordings] for things like refrigerators running in the background or dogs snoring," says Amelia.
The tracks were sent to Athens and returned with notes on how to fix this or that.
"It was a multi-week process," she says.
The girls decided to proceed for several reasons. The first was to make it a learning experience, but they and their label, Scrolling Bones Records, also wanted to get some product on the market. The plan is to record a full-length album when things open back up.
Typically, all three bands would do as most acts do after releasing an album: go out and do live shows to support it. Strung was on the 2020 Moon River Festival lineup, for example.
Even though touring is not possible currently, Maselle and the Smith brothers say they want to get their records out to fans. Smith & Wesley have had several songs do well on country stations around the country, "and radio stations need new songs to play," says Scott.
"It's important to stay out there," he adds.
For Maselle and his bandmates, being able to record in a professional studio with producer Matt Ross-Spang was a dream come true made even better by being able to share the result with fans.
"We couldn't wait to get it out for people to hear, and we can't wait to get out and play it live," Maselle says.
Strung is one of those bands that previously recorded their songs in home studios, with Maselle and bandmates serving as producer and engineer. Maselle says being in a professional studio and having someone worry about microphone placement and producing allowed him more time to focus on singing, playing and writing. "It made a huge difference."
Other new works recently released by local acts include (but are certainly not limited to):
* "Spineless," a Halloween track from Nick Lutsko
* "Muthaland," a 25-song album by local rapper BbyMutha
* "Head to Toe," a single featuring a collaboration between BROCRISP, Paul Smallman and Summer Dregs
* "Average Joe," a new album by Richard Daigle
* "Chameleana," an album by Jason Lyles featuring his hit single "The Fight"
* "The Island," an album by Lon Eldridge recorded in his home studio during quarantine
Christmas is coming up, and music is always a great gift — especially locally made music.