A quick note: recording Panhandle Swing
Early 2007, Berry Selles asked me to do some recordings with his band Panhandle Swing. At that time I didn´t know anything about Western Swing. He explained to me the history of Western Swing, especially the music of Bob Wills. In the ´30s the recordings where made in radiostudio´s, everybody playing the same time around one microphone in the middle. He also told me he would like his new recordings made in the same traditional way. For me this sounded like a real challenge. Sadly it was to ambitious to get all the old recording stuff together so we agreed to do it in Protools and mike every musician separate instead with only one microphone in the middle.
So, March 2007 we went to the old bakery of Henk Meijer which was rebuild to a small café. This place was not much bigger than an average living room and with eleven musicians in, it was a little bit small. Every musician was placed in the right natural balance, double bass and banjo in the back with the drums etc. All the instruments where miked with one microphone, mostly Neumann´s which are my favourite mikes. The three Panhandle Playgirls where miked separately. My first impression was that these musicians where excellent in balancing there own sound. We didn’t use any headphones so everybody had to play in the balance and volume of the acoustic band, especially when the ladies where singing. Guitar Ray played with two microphones, one to catch his acoustic sound and one on his amplifier. With his volume pedal he could make his own balance, brilliant! The drums could be a concern in this small place but Antoon Aukes played so dynamically that every time the ladies where singing, they got enough “space” in the mix. At five o’clock we had a little break because the church bells where ringing a few minutes. After the small break we recorded Roly Poly and then we called it a day.
All the recordings where done in Protools, only balanced with input gain at the beginning. The result was that in the mix you’re only hearing a band playing perfectly in balance. Note: there are no overdubs, no eq´s and compressors (except mastering) and like in the ´30s its all mono!
I really enjoyed working with these fantastic musicians. It was a quest to get the old sound and hopefully it succeeded!