Tune in to the nationally syndicated Ellen K Show on KOST 103.5, Los Angeles, CA to hear The Swansons’ jingle opener for Rllen’s Thought of the Day segment. It was produced here at Nashville Trax and will play every morning moving forward until it wears out.
“I finished getting Jenee’s tracks on the project about 2 p.m. on Sept. 25th,” explains producer, Bill Watson.
“I wanted The Swansons songwriter, Joe, to hear how well it turned out. They had already supplied me with their vocal tracks so I did a quick mix, applied a little mastering, and Dropboxed it,” Watson continues, “As luck would have it Joe and Angie were still in a meeting at the radio station when they downloaded. The Program Director flipped over it and scheduled it daily starting the next morning, on the 26th.”
“No way would I have thought the tracks we were cutting Tuesday would be heard on radio by millions of people within less than 24 hours, it’s crazy. God is good.”
“Thought of the Day”
Written by Joe Finley of The Swansons
Vocals: Joe and Angie of The Swansons
Fiddle and mando: Jenee Fleenor (NBC’s The Voice/Blake Shelton’s band)
Guitars: 12 xs ACM’s Guitar Player of the Year, Brent Mason
Drums and percussion: Rascal Flatts drummer, Jim Riley
Bass Guitar: Nashville Trax producer, Bill Watson
Produced, engineered and mixed by Bill Watson, Nashville Trax
Would you like to contact us about YOUR project? E-mail:
Nashville Trax have been in business producing demos, master recordings and instrument tracks for songwriters and producers since 1991.
This blog contains numerous posts about songwriting technique,. music theory, artists seeking songs, song publishers seeking songs and more!
E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or at email@example.com to inquire about:
- Having a demo, master quality single or album produced
- Adding instrument tracks played by Nashville session musicians to your self-produced project.
- Live stage performance tracks made of a cover song or original
Here are some MP3 samples of our song demo work. We produce Country, Christian, Blues, Americana, Bluegrass, Pop, Rock.. you name it.
Here are indie and major label song pitch opportunities
Not computer savvy? No time? No connections? You’d rather focus on song writing than on song promo? Here’s how we can promote your song for you. What a great time to be a songwriter!
Play It Again Demos is a service for songwriters who need high quality demos and CDs made of their work using Nashville session quality musicians and singers.
Nashville Trax is a project recording studio for singers and songwriters who either live in the area or wish to come to the Nashville area from other locations to record. Nashville may be known for country and bluegrass but these guys can play anything.
If you haven’t had much success with your music in the past using other studios and producers, hop on board and hold on. Things are about to change!
This blog is about songwriting, producing, recording and life. If we think it will help you out in some way, we post it. It’s free of charge and access is unrestricted, stop by anytime. Subscribe if you like, that’s free too.
Would you like to contact us about YOUR project? E-mail:
Welcome to Nashville Trax! Yes, we are located in the Nashville, Tennessee area and we are the home base of the incredible Nashville Trax A Team detailed below.
Scroll down this samples page and you’ll find numerous samples of work we did for many different clients.
We produce Country, Contemporary Christian, Bluegrass, Folktronica, Southern Gospel, Americana, Rock, Blues, Hip Hop and Pop music!
Whether you need a demo of your song, a master, a performance track, a session quality instrument track added to a project you are producing, mastering of your mix, or even an entire album produced, the Nashville Trax A team, featuring our best players, is available at a price lower than you might think.
Read what one of our current clients e-mailed to Nashville Trax’ music producer (B. E. Watson):
“These tracks are smokin’ hot, Bill!!! This album is going to ROCK country style!!! Thanks man!!!! Wow!!!!!!” -Joe Finley, front man for The Swansons, regarding the tracks posted below.
And from client Mike Martin of the Sacramento, California area:
“Hi Bill, I have been playing my CD with the four songs you recorded for me and everyone is amazed at the quality of recording as well as the musicianship. You make records and even demos that are radio ready in my opinion and I just wanted to say thank you for all your work.”
The Swanson’s album, Country This, produced by Bill Watson right here at Nashville Trax won The Producer’s Choice Awards “Best Country Album” in April of 2018. The Swansons are cutting their second album here, which will be available for sale in early 2019, then starting album # 3 here.
Here’s our A team- we call them The Hitmakers- on a music-only track intended for the Swansons’ album:
Something’s Better © 2017 Joe Finley, published by Listen Again Music (BMI):
Drums: Jim Riley (Rascal Flatts)
Bass Guitar: Bill Watson (Nashville Trax producer)
Acoustic and Electric Guitars: 10 times Music Row Guitar Player of the Year, Brent Mason
Harmonica: Mike Douchette (Tammy Wynette, George Jones, ZZ Top)
Mandolin: Jenee Fleenor(NBC’s The Voice fiddlist/Blake Shelton’s fiddlist.
Banjo: Aaron McDaris (with the #1 award winning bluegrass artist Rhonda Vincent)
Engineered, Arranged, Produced and Mixed by Bill Watson
The Swansons, who perform live shows and do have their own band, have also started playing selected live shows here in Nashville and other locations with The Nashville Trax A Team, such as the 2018 Producer’s Choice Awards show in Las Vegas with The Swansons, Brent Mason on guitar, Jenee Fleenor on fiddle, Bill Watson on bass guitar and Jim Riley on drums.
Would you like a quote on your project using these musicians?
firstname.lastname@example.org Att: B.E. Watson, A Team quote.
Here’s the first single, releasing to radio in 2018: “Valentine” with Joe and Angie singing lead; Bill “B.E.” Watson on bass guitar; Jenee Fleenor fiddle; Brent Mason, guitars, Jim Riley, drums; Steve King, keys, Jamie and Jim Riley, background vocals:
The Nashville Trax A Team is comprised of session veterans such as Jenee Fleenor, who plays fiddle and mandolin for major label country artist, Blake Shelton.
She was also the fiddle player on John Pardi’s 2016 Billboard #1 country hit “Head Over Boots” as well as the fiddle player on the #1 followup song by Jon Pardi that was certified gold for sales and streaming of 500,000 copies “”Dirt On My Boots” which features Jenee’s playing throughout.
She is the 2016 CMA Touring Musician of the Year as well as the fiddle player for the popular television show, The Voice.
In fact, Jenee turned down Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler’s offer to tour with him (to support his country album) but she is doing selected Steven Tyler dates…and guess what? Hire us and she’ll definitely play on your project!
And here’s a quick rough mix of a three piece rockabilly jam with Brent Mason on guitar, Jim Riley drums and Bill Watson on bass guitar. More instrument parts have since been added; be sure to pick up a copy of The Swanson’s album (produced by Nashville Trax, intended for release November/December 2017) to hear the full mix:
Same song, same rhythm, track, but with Jenee, Mike, Joe and Angie Finley and other members of the A team on board, and EQ and effects applied to the tracks:
Here is our A Team playing that same song with The Swansons on their Nashville live debut/CD release party, 9-22-17:
The foundation rhythm section players: Jim Riley, Drums; Bill “B.E.” Watson, Bass Guitar; Brent Mason, Rhythm & Lead Guitars:
Some of the other A team tracking and overdub players we use:
“One of the best memories of my entire life!! Thanks to you and your crew of ‘Hitmakers’ Bill Watson!! Thanks again!” – Songwriter Joe Finley of The Swansons.
Would you like a quote on your project?
email@example.com Att: B.E. Watson, A Team quote.
Something’s Better, Valentine and I Need Your Love are all © 2017 Joe Finley, published by Listen Again Music (BMI). Posted for demonstration of production values only. Any other use is a violation of U.S. and International copyright law.
Looking to have a Christian song produced? Give a listen to this client a capella “before” version of this song (titled “Paradise”) then our version.
Client “Before” version:
Nashville Trax “after” version:
Paradise is © Jon Smith, posted by permission. If you’re interested in recording this song; using it in a commercial application such as in a movie or on a website; or singing it in a performing situation please let us know and we’ll forward your request to the songwriter and song publisher.
How about that saxophone player? If you need fantastic sax on your tune, we’ll get him. He’s THE MAN!
Pro recordings make everyone- friends, family, artists, record company A & R and music publishers- take notice. Have 3 or 4 pro demos or masters to peddle and they’ll brand you as a pro-level songwriter every time you pitch them.
We would be thrilled to do that for you!
As one of the staff who worked on this track said while listening to the final mixdown, “There are a lot of people in Nashville who wish their album tracks sounded this good!”
If you would like a quote on making a professional version of your song simply drop an e-mail with your rough mp3 or mp4 attached to: firstname.lastname@example.org with the details of what you want. We’ll likely bat a couple e-mails back and forth before we determine an exact price. It can be completed over the Internet or you can be present for the entire process.
Write in another style? There are more samples of work to your right in Categories > Samples of Our Work.
If you like older style country we can do that all day long; fiddle, pedal steel out front in the mix, we love it!
But much of what makes radio these days incorporates more of a rock vibe. If there’s fiddle and steel they’ll have to fight for a spot in the mix, distorted guitars and cannon-like drums rule.
Here’s a demo produced by Play It Again Demos by producer, Bill Watson, titled “Renegade” that features those types of sounds.
Renegade is © 2013, 2016 Dan Mathews, used by permission of the songwriter. If you’re interested in recording this song please let us know and we’ll forward your request to the songwriter and music publisher.
Do you need a quality singer like this to make your song sound professional?
An arrangement that make your tune something special, not just regurgitate the rough version? That blues-scale riffs in the intro, halfway through the chorus and on through? The producer, Bill Watson, wrote them in during pre-production.
And how about these musicians? Wouldn’t it be thrilling to hear these guys doing your song? And so worth the money?
Pro demos make everyone– friends, family, artists, record company A & R and music publishers- take notice and will brand you as a pro-level songwriter every time you play them.
We would be as happy to do that for you! Just shoot us an e-mail at email@example.com with your rough mp3 version attached and request a quote today!
There are more samples of work to your right in Categories > Samples of Our Work.
Let’s start with this piece of amazement, the Waves HEQ Hybrid Equalizer:
This is the $300 TDM version, and worth every cent.
Basically it will analyze the frequency response of a track and give the engineer a visual as he EQ’s it in real time. The yellow line is pre-EQ, the blue is post. The advantage over a regular analog or digital EQ? Instead of relying on your ears, you can see what is going on, see what needs to be cut or boosted, make the tweak, then get additional visual verification that you’ve achieved your goal.
Either that or it calculates how to get that insect DNA out of your body before you turn into The Fly III.
But I think it’s an EQ.
And here’s another piece of total greatness:
I must admit this isn’t my first Aphex relationship. (That sounds just plain weird doesn’t it?) We had the original Aphex Aural Exciter, the analog physical version, in our rack nine years ago. I loved that little guy but when we went to Pro Tools HD and started mixing in the box, the Aphex was no longer able to be utilized, so we sold it.
But appropriately, on Halloween Eve it’s back from the dead in software form, ready to add sparkle to any track it’s needed on. It may say “Vintage Aural Exciter” but at first listen there was no question it’s an emulation of the Aphex.
I don’t care who you are you have to love an aural exciter on drum overheads. But it will work on many track types anytime a mix is too bottom end heavy. Apply it judiciously and it balances out the lows with quality high end.
And here is our new Lexicon Reverb, part of a $600 bundle that includes everything from concert halls to tiny rooms:
Click here to see the rest of this post about our new Lexicon Reverb. Also learn more about our Tube Saturation Software for vocals and how it might help make your vocal track sound sensational!
SESAC is now offering monthly royalty check payments. For details visit: http://www.sesac.com/News/News_Details.aspx?id=1793
Working on a limited release demo CD project mixing original songs with cover tunes. First up? A cover of Amy Grant’s Better Than A Hallelujah.
The songwriting craft evident in Hallelujah blows me away. The lyric is simple yet powerful. The melody just soars. Love it!
There’s no sense in copying Amy’s version, that’s pretty much a definitive performance so rather than attempt to emulate greatness, I want to do something different with it.
One thought was to make it much bigger sounding, over the top alt pop rock with distorted guitars, a full choir, big rock drums, etc.
But I decided while interesting to produce, going huge would lose the best quality this tune has going for it: simple understated beauty. So it will remain at about the same dynamic just a little more dense with a slightly bluesy lead vocal, some Hall & Oates style bgv’s (background vocals) and some unusual instrumentation. Exactly what, I’ll leave as a surprise for now and post an mp3 when the CD is finished.
In my research before charting I found an Amy Grant interview about the song I think you’d find interesting for a lot of reasons.
I also found the The Official Amy Grant Video of Better Than A Hallelujah Not too great of a discovery, Columbus’ place in history remains secure, it comes up 1st in Google, lol.
Beautiful the mess we are.
A tune came in today (by songwriter Tom Hogan a.k.a. Steve Zodiak) at Play It Again Demos that uses a rarely-employed technique you might wish to experiment with.
The song features a happy, upbeat melody but the lyric is definitely negative. For some reason that contrast works.
The best example of this technique is Jim Croce’s “Workin’ At The Car Wash Blues” where the lyric reveals the dichotomy between the singer’s current career path: “rubbing fenders with a rag and walking home in soggy old shoes” with where he feels he deserves to be: sitting in an air-conditioned office “talkin’ some trash to my secretary sayin’, ‘Hey now mama come on over here!”
I can’t agree with the attitude, a real man treats women they deal with in business or in their personal life as they would want their mother or sister to be treated, but the lyric’s contrast between fantasy and reality is hilarious.
In tough guy with a sensitive side, Jim Croce’s defense, he also wrote “Time In A Bottle” as well as “Operator.”
Another example is “Semi Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind. It can give you happy feet but the lyric is mostly negative. Including lyric lines discussing crystal meth addiction.
Happy music, not so fun-loving lyric.
It works, try it!- b.e.
I read an article on CNN.com this morning regarding why Millennials are dropping out of Christian churches.
The writer, an atheist, stated that Millennials- teens, college students, and people up to about age 30- are losing interest in attending church and don’t believe in God.
In the bulk of the piece the writer theorized extensively on fault: Who’s fault is it Millennials are dropping out of church?
He concluded it was the fault of the churches for focusing their message on Jesus and non-worldy values, as well as the result of an organized push by atheists with a “God is a myth” message that’s resonating. He also alluded to a general decline in interest among almost all age groups.
He ended with, “It appears that atheists and Christians are finally working together on the same task: getting Millennials to leave the church.”
It’s so typical of the hard left atheistic faction to argue a small point supported by a larger false premise, as if the false premise was a fact beyond debate. They then attempt to focus the debate on the details of the false premise. Clever, but I hope accomplishing The Great Destroyer’s work isn’t quite that easy.
When someone opposing you is saying, “You better change tactics because you are helping us achieve our goals.” it’s a highly suspicious position. If it’s true, the only logical course is to say nothing and keep reaping the benefits!
Is Christianity growing or shrinking? Is it really on the ropes about to expire as the mass media would sometimes like us to believe?
Are people losing interest in God?
I’ve attended two Christian churches in the last seven months, multiple times each. One has expanded to a fifth campus (campus = a complete church with a building, campus staff, a live worship band, etc.) with the pastor’s message cabled from the main campus to the other four. The church began about eight years ago with less than twenty members. It now has thousands of members among the 5 campuses.
The other church I’ve attended started in the late 90’s as a tiny group, meeting for coffee at Starbucks to talk about Jesus. Over time they purchased a building and they’ve added 100 new members over the last year. They are out of room and about to break ground on a huge building expansion project, fully paid for in advance.
The front rows are filled with teens and college kids totally on fire for The Lord and worshiping with tremendous enthusiasm. They even have a weeknight “takeover” of the church attended only by local college students. They started it themselves and they run it, The parking lot fills to capacity.
I’m sure part of the attraction at that particular church is the demographic. These aren’t the uneducated, nearly penniless, rednecks desperately “clinging to guns and religion” some people mistakenly believe all Christians are. Jesus is for everyone.
The church draws it’s membership from the county with the highest per capita income in the United States. Sunday school is taught by college professors to people with PhDs. The church band is comprised of session quality players, some of the most intelligent, talented individuals on the planet.
And these people love Jesus. Look around and you see smiling, happy, super-friendly folks in love with The Lord and visibly displaying it. Millennials may attend the first time for other reasons but they come back because His spirit permeates the place.
Don’t try to convince me it’s not happening using cherry picked statistics. I’ve seen it.
Furthermore I know Trinity Broadcasting Network is constantly expanding on its multiple channel Christian Broadcasts worldwide. Christ’s message is being spread in more ways and with greater coverage than ever, finally fulfilling Bible prophecy that the Word would be preached throughout the world.
It’s even in Russia and bringing our Russian brothers and sisters, former atheists forced for two generations by the state to accept the “fact” there is no God, into the fold in astounding numbers. Not long ago Christianity was predominately a Western religion. Today, Latin America, Asia and Africa hold 65% of the world’s 2 billion Christians.
Wasn’t it just last week that CNN itself reported there are now over 200 Christian churches in Manhatten alone? And one of the newest, Hillsong, has quickly grown to over 5,000 members.
And wasn’t The Bible mini-series the most watched entertainment broadcast on cable this year?
How about the success of Donald Trump meets ZZ Top, Duck Dynasty? It’s breaking viewership records too, not in spite of it’s Christianity, but partly because of it!
Single track downloads of Christian/Gospel music rose this past year 8.8% from 20.3 to 22.1 million tracks over last year. Purchases of music downloads is mostly due to people under 30 years old with by far the highest purchasing age group being in the 25 to 29 age range.
Why would Christian music downloads increase in the U.S. by nearly 9% if Christians, especially Millennials in the coveted under 30 demographic, are losing their faith in droves? I believe these purchases are being made by millennial atheists with a hidden affinity for Christian music they listen to secretly in bedroom closets, LOL.
Christianity is about to breathe it’s last gasp…reeeeally?
Yes, some churches are shrinking in numbers, partly due to people migrating from smaller inner city churches to mega-churches in the suburbs. And some churches are behind the times. God’s message doesn’t change but the delivery system may need tweaking.
I totally understand, accept and love non-believers. Some of my friends and family are atheists and we get along fine. But I don’t understand people, like the author of the article, who actively attempt to destroy other’s faith.
What great good results from taking away a person’s moral compass? What great work are they accomplishing by destroying a person’s belief system that’s inherently full of hope and replacing it with a belief system absolutely devoid of it?
But oh, there is indeed an outcome. Non-belief inherently has a cost to the individual as well as to society.
It’s the devaluing and destruction of the traditional family unit.
It’s an absence of self esteem and the inability to see the eternal picture to the point that teens are committing suicide over Facebook posts and school bullying.
It’s a misplacement of values resulting in adults killing themselves over something as simple as losing a job.
It’s an increase in the number of people who hurt others without a thought of eternal consequences, knowing their actions are wrong but not caring, or maybe not even knowing the difference between right and wrong itself.
It’s more husbands leaving wives, forcing their children into weekend visitation with Dad and his new significant other, which imparts a completely different and unpredictable dynamic to the father-child relationship:
Fatherhood pushed to the fringes instead of where it should be, center stage leading, because the self is more important than doing the right thing.
Does anything matter?
If all we amount to at the end of this extremely short journey is a box of bones in the ground then it matters not whether we are moral; whether we rob, rape or kill; whether we spend our time loving or hating, shooting or healing… once it’s all over and the smoke finally clears, nothing matters at all to bones in the ground. There are no consequences or rewards for any choice. Every word we speak or write is ultimately meaningless as is every action. A collective mountain of bones comprised of everyone who once drew a breath simply doesn’t care.
But He does.
Man, if everyone in the world simply turned to Jesus and made Him and His Word the center of their lives, the problem solvers could go away. There wouldn’t be any problems to solve. And guess what, don’t believe in His divinity? It still works!
Belief in God and making Jesus the center point of your brief earthly journey is the default position of the truly logical, the default position of the truly wise, the default position of the few on this earth who are truly intelligent.
Instead of turning toward the one thing that absolutely will work, the one thing that is the real game changer for the individual, for society, the militant atheists are actively turning people the other way, away from Jesus.
Their genius on full display, shining like the brilliant beacon it is, I guess.
People need God. They have a hunger for Him that nothing else will satisfy. There may be agenda driven stats available to support the convoluted CNN article’s premise, but I can assure you, based on plenty of anecdotal as well as empirical evidence, the concept that Millenials are disinterested in Jesus is absolutely false.
Militant atheists want people to believe Christianity is on the ropes, uncool, holding onto a stale position, the refuge of losers, the home of the unintelligent, about to be defeated, when it’s actually the militant atheists who are losing the battle, desperately trying to stop the glorious truth that’s pouring out His message, finding His children and feeding them The Word that satisfies forever.
It’s reaching a people and generation who have technology in bucket loads. And wealth. And mobility. And logic to spare. But they have no hope in anything beyond the grave, the one thing that makes all that good.
Jesus is giving them some. Glory Hallelujah, He is giving us all some!- b.e.
Songwriters who aren’t trained in music theory often hear a song using a bass line movement descending from the major root chord to the relative minor, then imitate that movement in their own songs this way: (key of C) C, B minor, A minor. In the Nashville Numbers System that would be 1, 7-, 6-.
What they are actually trying to imitate is this: C, G/B, Am or in Nashville Numbers speak: 1, 5/7, 6-. The G/B means a G chord played with a B bass note. If you play guitar or piano and you’re solo you can make the movement happen by voicing the deepest pitched B note as your root for the G chord. But if you’re working with a bass player it’s fine to simply play the full G chord and let the bass player take the B bass note. Another example just to confirm you understand the concept, this time in the key of G : Instead of G, F#m, Em use G, D/F#, Em- b.e.
The fact we have a pair of matched AT 4040 microphones is yet another reason to choose Play It Again Demos (our over-the-internet demo recording service) or Nashville Trax to do your recording work. They let us give you predictably fantastic drum sounds, and they add one more color to the producer’s palette.
For large diaphragm condensors they’re “cheapies” listing at around $500 each and retailing about $300. But price is irrelevant to application. In other words, a $150 dynamic microphone will sometimes outperform a $3,000 condenser microphone, it depends on what you’re trying to achieve.
The AT is listed as having relatively flat response across the audible spectrum from 20 HZ to about 20K. In actual use I’ve discovered it is a little heavy on the bass end, not muddy, just loud, and crystal clear in the mids. The high end is clear too but if that’s what the application requires, you have to roll off the bass to reveal it.
We use a pair of AT’s for drum overheads so normally I keep the 80 Hz, 12 dB/octave switch set to minimize the bass response. Once EQ’d properly, they shine as overheads.
I feel blessed here at the studio in two ways. We have a good selection of mics to choose from that cover every recording situation, plus we have a drum kit set up permanently.
So many studios let the drummer furnish the drums and that means setting up and tearing down the whole kit for most sessions. Then the mics have to be set up and re-calibrated each time. It can be done but I have zero time for redundant, skull numbing mindlessness and there’s no way you’ll achieve the consistently great sound inherent in a permanent drum setup unless you have one. So we do.
Comments from seasoned studio musicians on the drum sounds are typically, “I wish my kick drum sounded like THAT!” and, “The drums sound PERFECT, don’t change a thing!”
The drums alone have 9 microphones: bass drum, snare, hi-hat, 3 tom mics, the two AT 4040’s, and a room mic. I can fire up the gear, the drummer can simply sit down and start pounding away and with minimal tweaking, we’re ready to record.
All that being said I must admit that I sometimes pull an AT off the drum kit, usually out of desperation because a far more expensive mic isn’t getting it done. And usually the AT excels. I’ve used them on background vocals, fiddle, even horns.
On one session I used an AT for lead vocal instead of a $1,000 mic that pre-session I figured would almost certainly work because it had for that same singer many times prior. Both the singer and I agreed: The AT simply sounded better for his voice that day- B. E. Watson
On November 30, 1864 the Southern General John Hood held a position on the hill where the park is now located. He decided to attack the Northern troops located toward Franklin. His line was the largest single array of troops in the entire war, some 19,000 men moving shoulder-to-shoulder across the fields at the foot of the hill.
The plaque pictured above tells it best:
At 4 p.m. here on Winstead Hill, launched the single largest attack made during the American Civil War. The Federal soldiers never forgot the sheer spectacle of the Confederates sweeping across the fields before you with bands playing “Dixie” and “The Bonnie Blue Flag.” One Union observer later wrote that “we were spellbound with admiration, although they were our hated foes.”
Maybe the musicians should have altered the playlist with a tune less controversial than “Dixie.” The Union troops listened for a bit then opened fire. When the smoke cleared at day’s end there were over 6,000 Southern casualties. The action was a disaster for the South.
If I were the general I’d have suggested playing “Why Can’t We Be Friends?”
In just the first few minutes of battle, five Southern generals lost their lives in the field just to the right of the hill. Altogether 15 Southern Generals were killed in the fierce fight. Hood’s forces were rendered incapable of effectively engaging in battle for the remainder of the war.
If memory serves correctly Hood was Robert E. Lee’s right hand man in The Battle of Gettysburg, afterwards going to GA to harass Northern General Sherman near Atlanta as Sherman “Drove Old Dixe Down.”
Imagine walking from Gettysburg to Atlanta and on to Nashville as these troops must have done, including the musicians. Tough gig, tougher crowd– b.e.
Knowing a few chords on guitar or piano is a good thing but some roughs I’ve reviewed here reveal that some newbie songwriters aren’t sure how to use them together. Sometimes chords are used that don’t support the melody or several chords are used that inadvertently introduce a new key in a spot where that shouldn’t happen.
Hopefully this post will reduce that confusion slightly, but in the larger sense, it’s aimed at introducing the abecedarian songwriter to the concept that there is a right way and wrong way to use chords, thus fueling the desire for further exploration of the principles.
Huh, abecedarian… pretty good word, eh? It means neophyte or beginner. Use it to replace a cuss word: “Listen, you abecedarian…” : )
As in most endeavors, there are rules. Rules can be broken but songwriters who don’t know the rules in the first place tend to break them in a bad way, in a way that detracts rather than enhances.
So here is a rule of sorts: Inject a sense of order in the writing process by employing a chord progression, which is several chords played in sequence that sound good together and firmly establish a key. There are many chord progressions that are accepted in music theory as “standards” and are used over and over, the simplest being the three chord group.
Many hit songs are written using only a three chord group, some with as few as two of the three chords in a group.
The easiest three chord groups to play on guitar are:
1. E, A, B7th
2. G, C, D7th
3. A, D, E 7th
4. C, F, G7th
5. D, G, A 7th
All of those can be played on guitar using open chords (chords that contain unfretted notes). The first chord in the three chord sequence is the tonic chord a.k.a. root chord. The second is the dominant chord, the third is the sub dominant or sub dominant seventh.
A three chord group is based on the major scale. Choose the 1st, 4th and 5th notes of a major scale and those notes name the three chord group for that scale with that 1st (the root note) naming the key. Also add a dominant 7th (7th) to the final chord (although the 7th is sometimes omitted).
For example, the notes in a C Major scale are:
C, D, E, F, G, A, B, (and back to C, up one octave in pitch from the original C).
The 1st, 4th and 5th notes of the C Major Scale, counting from C are C, F, G. So in the key of C, (C because the first note, the root note, is C) the 3 chord group is C, F, G. In the Nashville number system they’d be referred to as 1-4-5.
Click here to read the rest of this post, including how to use a three chord group to write a song and how to employ the principal of chord substitution.
Or you can skip the free stuff and go straight to the books this post is drawn from, we’re barely scratching the surface here. If you want to learn very basic open chord progressions and simple rhythms get my book Guitar Shop. If you want to learn more complicated chords, extended chords, how non-root bass notes work and learn all the chord substitution rules, get Ted’s book– bill watson
The radio alarm sounded this morning with this song and it was such a perfect wake up call I thought I’d share. A GREAT way to start the day or anytime really.
Focus and energy just pour on in!- b.e.
A lot of aspiring artists just don’t seem to get it. They can sing, they may be good looking. But in Nashville that’s only the bargaining chip that gets you to the table, everyone holds those cards. In most cases, to “win” you need more.
My advice: Hit the stage with intent.
This band gets it:
Sure, there are big acts that basically just stand nearly motionless onstage and win people over with their personality and/or talent. But they already have hit records. Too many aspiring artists who “want to get signed” get the chance to do a live showcase for major label A&R and when the lights go on, have nothing.
No stage movement, no personality, nothing unique.
The difference between singers I’ve recorded during my time time here who did move on to a major label recording contract and the ones who had great talent yet failed to move beyond a development deal or even the showcasing stage is a lack of drive, a lack of setting themselves apart from other aspiring artists in some way.
Sister Sparrrow and The Dirty Birds is a group totally into what they’re doing. It wouldn’t matter whether there were 5 people watching or 55,000, they’d perform just the same. The band is tight, the girl has a unique voice and makes the most of what she’s got. This is the type of act any A & R person would jump to sign- b.e.
NEW! Nashville Trax is now offering this package deal this summer, starting June 21st through October 20th!
- Have your songs recorded professionally
- Meet your music producer and one or more of the Nashville Trax A Team session musicians… watch them play on your project! Get pics and autographs!
- After sessions enjoy a relaxing boat ride or rides on one or both of the two large Nashville area lakes! Choose pontoon, wake, fish and ski all beautiful, new, high power boats, Water toys included!
- Enjoy a tour of the area’s most significant sites: the touristy Broadway where bands play almost 24/7 year ’round! See Music Row where the real music biz happens! Experience the world famous Opryland! More!
- Options are available with or without vehicle and hotel.
If you’ve never been to Nashville and want to experience a slice of what it’s all about, this is the way to do it! Everything from finding a great hotel to locating the iconic Nashville area sights is handled for you!
Interested? e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org NOW for your package quote!
Gospel music trio, The Greatest Gift. won the Gospel Album of the Year at the North American Country Music Association International 2019 competition on March 19th, with Bill Watson of Nashville Trax, who produced their “Closer than Ever” album music and sound tracks.
“We give all of the glory to God for giving us our talents and opportunities to praise Him,” they proclaimed.
They landed several other awards as well:
New Gospel Adult Vocal Group of the Year
Gospel Video of the Year
New Gospel Songwriter of the year for “Walk with Me”
New Gospel Male Adult Vocalist of the year
Most Promising New Gospel Male Adult Entertainer
Traditional Gospel Adult Instrumentalist of the Year
Traditional Gospel Female Adult Vocalist Horizon Award
Traditional Gospel Female Adult Entertainer Horizon Award
Vocals and mixing for their album were done by Bob Catalano of Bobcat Studios.
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Sean hails from Canada, Nashville Trax has been supplying specific tracks for his projects for about two years now.
We have added drums, bass guitar, fiddle, guitar and more to his projects, whatever he thinks it needs, or he’ll send our producer, Bill Watson, a stereo mix and ask for Watson’s input on what might be beneficial.
When Sean started mentioning that he was receiving royalty checks for these projects, enough to fund additional track work on multiple songs, we became curious, thinking it might benefit our other clients and potential clients to know how he achieved this.
Sean gladly and unselfishly obliged.
We didn’t ask for it, we really just wanted to know the facts of how he went from recording at home to getting substantial airplay, but we received a bonus, it reads like a testimonial of our work:
“When I finished my EP (using a blend of my own work and tracks by the world class Nashville Trax musicians) I published it through CD baby which enabled me to get it onto all professional download and streaming services. The last step I took was to release it to country radio in Canada through DBDS service.
They picked it up and started playing it on satellite. That picture is the very first royalty cheque I received and I have received even more cheques since then.”
Sean continues, “Utilizing Nashville Trax and getting the privilege of having some of the greatest studio players in the world play on my material ( I’m a country player “hack” up in Northern Alberta ) they inspired me to start writing again and more. They gave me the gift of recording and writing professional sounding music that was only made possible by having a cadre of professional artists readily accessible at a reasonable cost.
They gave me the confidence to risk pushing and exposing my music to the world because of the level to which they elevated things.
Even if I didn’t get those royalty cheques, Nashville Trax was worth the investment into myself. They allowed me to achieve a goal that was always on my bucket list for life. Release some quality sounding songs that I could be proud of.
I look forward to continue making great music together with Nashville Trax!”- Sean Morton, Northern Alberta, Canada
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The four core musicians comprising the Nashville Trax A Team will perform live at the prestigious Producer’s Choice Awards in Las Vegas on November 7th, 2018. They will open the show with five Swanson’s originals from the duo’s first country album, Country This, they played on.
Update! Pics from the show:
L to Rt: Jenee Fleenor of NBC’s The Voice & Blake Shelton’s Band, fiddle; Bandleader and Nashville Trax Producer, Bill Watson, on bass guitar; Joe and Angie Finley of The Swansons; Jim Riley of Rascal Flatts; 12 xs Academy of Country Music’s Guitar Player of the Year, Brent Mason. Opening the Hollywood Fame/Producer’s Choice Awards Show at Hard Rock Live on the Vegas strip 11-7-18
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“Received Them. Thank you. They’re excellent. ” -from Sean who hails from Canda and ordered fiddle and harmonica.
And in regards to steel and fiddle on two songs (4 tracks) ordered by Bert from The Netherlands:
Typical excellence from the usual suspects, Jenee delivered the goods on the three fiddle tracks, Mr. Mike contributed one harp and two steel tracks.
In addition to full band demos, mastered singles and complete albums,Nashville Trax also offers instruments to add to the already-started project you’re producing.
Imagine having one of the top ten session guitarists in music history, Brent Mason, on your song! Or Jen, a fiddler who just played on two Country Billboard #1 hits?
For pricing and ordering information, click on the instrument you need below.
We also offer vocals.
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Nashville Trax Client Dan Thompson Receives First Quarter Airplay Royalty Check from Sound Exchange.Posted: August 19, 2018
“My first royalty check for Miles & Miles release in the US… This is for one Quarter.. Miles & Miles was played over 1000 times per week in the US… it did really good.. Thanks so much for the great work Bill!”
Read more about Dan Thomson’s Nashville Trax album and single releases:
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Planning your next album? Interfacing with Nashville Trax can help make it more professional than any music you’ve created before.
The CDs pictured, all released in 2018, demonstrate four different ways these artists chose to work with us to achieve a better result than they could muster on their own.
The upper left CD by The Greatest Gift was an eight song album, one of many we’ve done for this Christiam three-piece vocal group. The group’s songwriter sent us his rough originals recorded with just piano and vocal.
We charted his songs and cut all new music tracks. The group then added their vocals to those tracks in a local studio near them in the New England area and mixed there.
As we’ve worked with them they’ve gone from playing on Sunday’s at their local church to appearing on T.V. shows and scoring hits on the Gospel charts.
Lower Left: The Swansons first album: We cut all the music tracks using our Nashville Trax A Team. Based in the Los Angeles area, they came to Nashville and cut their vocals here at Nashville Trax then we mixed here in Nashville using three different mix and mastering studios, including here at Nashville Trax.
Country This has garnered considerable radio airplay in the United States and birthed two charting singles. We are now about half way through producing their followup album.
Upper Right: Rootstock was an album project we added individual instrument tracks as needed, steel on several songs, fiddle on a few songs, etc. simply beefing up the musical muscle.
Lower Right: This group is based in Norway. We cut every instrument track, they added their vocals at a studio in Norway, sent them back to us where we mixed and mastered. This Christian group reports that CD sales are going extremely well with many hundreds sold the first few days, nearly recouping their investment within hours of release.
In each case the group or artist mentioned above possessed a high degree of talent but no one is an expert at everything. We were able to provide top notch equipment, world class musicians, professional engineering and guidance to make their projects superior to what they could have accomplished alone.
We can help you too! e-mail email@example.com with a description of your project, what you wish to achieve and how you believe we might help out. Or call producer Bill Watson at 615-319-8616.
Nashville Icon, Mike Curb, Showers High Praise on The Swansons, in Vegas, accepting Country Album of The Year, Produced @ Nashville Trax!Posted: April 4, 2018
The Swansons had quite a night in Las Vegas this past Saturday, April 7th, 2018!
Opening the evening with a live performance, winning the “Best Country Album of the Year” award for the Nashville Trax produced, Country This and being singled out several times by the legendary Mike Curb of Curb Records in Nashville, during his acceptance of his Lifetime Achievement Award.
Mike Curb’s contributions to country radio and The Nashville Music Industry are far too numerous to mention here but he has written Billboard charting hit songs for everyone from The Four Seasons to The Osmonds to Hank Willians Jr, Tim McGraw, Chris Young, The Judds, Kenny Chesney and dozens more. The Four Seasons Curb-produced “Oh What A Night” was the very first single in music history to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 and remain for over a full year.
He founded Curb Records which now also owns the world’s largest Christian label, Word Records.
Here is one instance of several where Mike mentions The Swansons.
Could a deal with Curb Nashville be in the works?
Nashville Trax producer, Bill Watson, produced Country This and is currently producing The Swansons’ follow up album. Update 2-17-19: Mr. Watson is now several songs into producing The Swanson’s third country album done at Nashville Trax.
Interested in having your record produced?
Contact Mr. Watson direct at 615-319-8616
They started working with Nashville Trax a few years ago, just another local Christian act playing at their local church.
Some 70 + Nashville Trax Produced songs and performance tracks later they recently signed a development deal, have been on radio throughout the U.S. and made the Grammy ballot!
Steve King: Piano & String pads
Jenee Fleenor: Violins
Jim Riley: Drums
Bill Watson: Bass Guitar
Tom Wild: Guitars
Music Engineered and Arranged by Bill Watson
This project is a great example of how we interface with artists and studios outside of Nashville.
Working with this Christian group’s rough piano/vocal, Bill Watson charted the music. Upon completion he forwarded it to a studio near the group where they recorded vocals, mixed and did the video.
Some clients do vocals then Dropbox the files back for mixing here, such as the album we did recently for a Christian group in Norway.
One Christian Music Producer based in Nashville TN is Bill Watson, his primary studio, Nashville Trax. About 50% of the projects Mr. Watson produces for his clients are Christian. Two of the four albums he was involved in producing this past year are Christian.
A testimonial from one of those clients:
“The Swansons were blessed a year and a half ago when Mr. Watson returned our phone call. We were looking for a change in our music and thought very highly of #Nashville and the great music they make here. Bill Watson produces records in Nashville and has a stellar reputation. I listened to his work and asked if he would be interested in working with the #Swansons. Thankfully he said yes and we are right in the middle of a really cool dream. Thank you Bill for EVERYTHING!! You are a super natural talent!! Absolutely Brilliant!!”– Joe Finley
Or contact him now at 615-319-8616 firstname.lastname@example.org