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Pat LaMountain
A Few Miles Later

Special Thanks
When Barry Higgins helped us on our A Few Good Hits to the Heart recording project, he was learning the studio skills he wanted to
develop. He had the ears and the computer skills and the technical training by working with software developers to test their programs.
He needed real world recording experience. I felt like a witness to his taking wings in flight. White Crow music got off the ground. Tex
and Barry did some dances around style and sounds but we ended up always finding an agreeable middle ground. When we finished the project
we missed our regular Monday night trips to Barry‘s. I had an idea. I had a slew of tracks from an old abandoned project recorded at our own
Garden Gate studio in the early 1990‘s. Joe Podlesny, our engineer had taken over a dozen of my songs and put guitar, bass and drum tracks on
them. It was getting time to mix when I let the project slip away. I lost heart for some reason. I think I didn‘t have confidence in myself to
get behind it and promote it. Why finish it if I wasn‘t going to put it out in the world? Joe started Avocet Studios on the Mohawk Trail soon
after and I eventually forgot about it. Some time later Tex and I were cleaning out the studio to get it set up for a computer-based system that
we could use for our own projects, not open to the public. We sold the board. Joe borrowed the 16 track for a project at Avocet. We kept seeing the
big boxes of one-inch tape with my songs on them. "You should get those copied in digital format or you‘ll lose them," Tex commented. I agreed.
Everyone knows tape deteriorates. We took them to Joe in the Fall of 2006 to make digital copies of each track. Each song had at least eight,
sometimes 16 tracks: major spaghetti. Joe would give us two or three songs at a time as he got them done. "These sound nice," he said, several times.
The 16 track was not working 100% so he had to split each song into two sets of tracks and make copies in groups of eight. When Barry got the songs
the beginnings and endings of these parts of songs did not always match, depending on which track was in which group. It was a puzzle for someone who
had never even heard the songs or seen the tracks before. We struggled over each song, piecing together Joe‘s guitar leads, a bad note here and there
that was obviously going to be mixed out, embarrassing backup vocals that were obviously an experiment to be discarded, drums that were not in synch with
the main track until we figured out how to make them synch. It was a lot of work. At the very least it was incredible training for a would-be recording engineer
who had never recorded a set of drums. Barry studied up on each aspect of the project as it arose. He now knows a lot about drums, guitars, bass sounds. He
took apart songs online to hear how each track sounded—songs he admired from other artists and bands. He learned how to get that sound. Then he had to convince
me (and Tex, usually) to like that sound, or he had to let us choose "folk" because it‘s "too loud and garish". But in the process we did a dance that included
all our hearts and good will. We wanted it to work for all of us. It is a synthesis of our opinions and ideas. I was supposedly the boss but I like agreement and
would usually push for a different tack if it wasn‘t working for someone. Barry, you are a dear companion and a talented mixing and mastering engineer.

I played none of the instruments. I am indebted to the musicians who played on my songs. First of all Joe Podlesny has never gotten the credit he deserves for
his awesome talent. He played rhythm, lead, bass guitars, keyboards. He layered sounds in his own recording style I got so used to hearing through the kitchen
door when he was running Garden Gate Recordings in the early 1990‘s. Not only did he design and build the studio, he played guitar and bass in our band(s) for
years and he ran the sound for our concert series Songs from Western Massachusetts. I‘m certain he didn‘t always think our decisions were the best, but he
supported Tex and me through a ton of projects. He also got to record a lot of musicians over the decades. We applaud his talent and wish him the best in his
endeavors. Joe, this project is really your baby, in a way. The original concepts and sounds are your own. We hope you like what we did with them. Tex was not
involved in this project at all in the beginning stages. He would snoop down to the studio and grunt things like "It‘s the wrong feel," and "Why did you use that
arrangement?" I was selfishly trying to do my own thing and I ignored his comments. Instead I handed the reins to Joe, who simply replaced Tex‘s steering at the
helm for me. I didn‘t know how to really play any of the songs and my own guitar playing was atrocious in my own mind. I would take my guitar up on the bed
and using a tiny lousy cassette recorder, play the songs one by one, singing and dramatically emoting for my recording until I thought I had my own arrangement.
When Joe recorded them, a few times he used my own guitar playing on a scrap track and my vocals orginally were scrapped too – just used for placement so he
could figure out the layers. Now when we got the songs digitized and Barry was working on them, Tex would ask if I wanted him to help work on them or not. Get
this, the guy was excluded fifteen years ago and ignored and by-passed. He didn‘t freak out or punish, like I might have. He asked if I wanted his help. I
knew I needed his help. I still couldn‘t play any of the songs, although by now I have been practicing and I can come up with a decent rhythm guitar on most
of the songs. But I‘m still reading the charts on many of them, as we finish the project. My confidence on guitar has grown so that I don‘t go completely
limp before a performance and spaghetti arm is not in my repertoire so much any more. I actually listen and play what I hear from time to time. It‘s
astounding to me to be able to do that at all. But there is a long way to go (which is why I needed Tex‘s help.) He considered it my project and he asked
permission to intrude his opinions. Sometimes he was stubborn and insistent but not very often. I am actually in awe of his self-less support. Where can
you find a man like that? It‘s a good thing I‘m in the habit of loving him.

Also, he sang harmony vocals on all of the songs but one – My Own Song. I just had to keep that my own.

In the early '90s Craig Manning wanted to produce some of our music so we let him loose in the studio under Joe‘s tutelage to work on two of Tex‘s songs and my
own Boys in the Summer. Craig played the electric and acoustic guitars on that song and we got the inimitable Jon McClellan to play bass. I feel like an
anchor on Craig‘s energy – to me, he is not really a folkie at all. In fact there are times when he is playing guitar that we don‘t think he‘s actually a human
being. He goes way out there, somewhere very interesting and entrancing, but quite supernatural. We love to collaborate with him and I panic at where he might
take us! I refer to this as the "boys will be boys" syndrome. But it‘s actually more than that. (And I‘m often known for doing good music for sleeping.) Thank you
Craig for wanting to show us something we didn‘t know. Let‘s risk more.

Steve Sienkiewicz played keyboard in our band in the late 80‘s. Then he moved to Florida, just when it was getting to be way too much fun. We were devastated to
lose him but we quickly recorded a lot of songs to capture the energy with that particular combination of musicians. Good Thing and Oh Papa were two
of the songs from that period. Boy did we miss you Steve. Your talent is endless.

Lin Boehmer played in several combinations of bands. She was in the group when Steve moved to Florida. Lin played real time drum machine by tapping on the little
pads when those electronic gadgets first came out. She also sang backup vocals. Besides being a talented musician, she is an amazing massage therapist – Trager
body work and other skills. We had so many fun adventures with Lin and she also got us involved in a life-changing Sahaj Marg meditation practice. It‘s been too
long, Lin. We‘re beholden to you for the support all those years.

Doug Plavin was a strong component of this recording project. Joe recorded Doug‘s drums in a three day marathon session in 1992/93. I‘ve always been respectful of
good musicians who can listen to a track and play against it. Thank you, Doug.

In the Fall of 2007 Tex‘s first cousin, Jim Matheson, was visiting from California where he is retired first oboist with the San Francisco Opera. We had played
together at a family wedding in Quebec years earlier. It was total chance that we chose Situation: You & Me for his part. Barry was happy to record an oboe –
being a wooden flute builder, Barry knows wind sounds. Jim worked out his part, put on the headphones, and recorded the tracks in one short session. We‘re so
pleased to have more family on the track. Thank you, Jim.

As for the cover: Joan Terry is Craig Manning‘s partner/wife and is always having to find something else to do when music is happening. She loves to sing and she
supports music of all kinds but the band widow phenomenon is not always fun. We have spent a lot of time with Joan. Aside from being a close friend and a cohort
in our meditation practice, Joan is an incredible designer and in fact teaches design courses at the Hallmark Institute of Photography in Turners Falls. She also
has done their design and promotion work and it is absolutely cutting edge. She rarely gets to do her own projects. We twisted her arm and finally got her to agree
to design the cover and liner notes for our 2007 release, A Few Good Hits to the Heart. When it came to A Few Miles Later, I think I snuck in the back
door and got Joan to "help" me with the project. She did the design in that same playful layered fashion she used for Heart. I love it. To me, the cover speaks
in the same way the songs do. The photos of the buildings were taken by Joan in Indiana in the 70‘s – around the same time my lyrics were being written. She overlaid
a photo of me walking down the street (with Tex, actually) in Montague Center in 2006, carrying my guitar. So the miles are many different levels of meaning in the
graphics and in the words. There is something else about me and Joan. Even though she is younger than I am, we come from the same vintage. We‘re both from the
Midwest. I was born in Nebraska and she is from Chicago. There is something about being a nice girl and having wavering confidence in our work that we both do in
our own ways. We help each other through it on many levels, by talking and here, by designing a wonderful cover. I found the paper that the cover is printed on and
when I told Joan about it I could see her wondering. She knows how cheap I am and was wondering if it would ruin the design to print it on paper that didn‘t work.
I had designed a cover I would print myself on 100% cotton scrap from Crane Paper Co. in Dalton, MA (Tex worked there as a teenager and both his parents retired
from there). I would cut, score and fold it myself and therefore could order smaller batches of CDs. She is very direct and strong about design work. When she saw it
printed she loved the look of the green/blue on light green paper. I was so happy to be able to use my design for the actual cover! This CD is actually a crafted
work of art, each and every one. I only say that because Tex keeps saying that. It‘s true, but the self-doubt thing keeps cropping up and saying "who says you‘re
an artist?" I have to learn to laugh and ignore it. Right, Joan? Thank you, Joan Terry for an amazing design and the support of a wise woman.

There are other friends who fit into that wise woman (and man) category. You know who you are. Could be my daughter, or a co-worker, or a musicians' coop member.
There are a lot of you out there. We help each other. Thank you all. As I write this, I feel I am now ready to look around and see what is current: new songs ready to be
recorded, new ideas ready to be written, old songs that need re-arranging and updating. It‘s good to get an old project out of the way. How about you, is there anything
in your life that just needs finishing? Do yourself a favor, you deserve it.



This page last updated on August 25, 2014