Basket Case: A Nashville Session Player Band

Basket Case

Basket Case

Basket Case at 3rd & Lindsley, Left to Rt: Steve King (keyboard); Holly Steele (background vocals); Rodney Ingle (background vocals); Tom Wild (guitar); Kristen McNamara (lead vocals); Bill Watson (bass guitar/bandleader); Tigar Bell (fiddle) ; John Heinrick, (sax). Background: David Northrup, (drums).

I received the first e-mail from songwriter Jon Smith back in my short hair days, 2005 I believe, saying he was disappointed with the work he’d received on his songs at several other Nashville studios and asking that 5 songs be produced for him at a budget far higher than any I’d experienced up to that point. The previous attempts to record his songs were interesting and the musicians competent, Jon said, but the music was flat, bland. There was no magic that he was sure was there.

We found it.

That initial e-mail led to multiple sessions totaling over 80 songs, a friendship, lots of rehearsals at S.I.R, and Soundcheck Nashville, a CD release, two videos and this live band that played Jon Smith tunes at venues in the greater Nashville area. What great fun it was!

Over the years of producing those sessions I used a lot of different top Nashville session players, excellent musicians all, but when Jon asked that a band be assembled so he could hear his songs performed live, I chose the ones I considered not just great musicians and singers, but also friends.

And my friends came through big time, the band sounded fantastic!

We initially resisted Jon’s suggestion that the male members wear white coats, but it turned out to be simply one more stroke of Jon genius. We only did a few gigs but quickly became known as “the white coat band” and it was memorable enough people still mention it occasionally, always referencing the white coats.

Here’s a swingin’ little tune that always made the setlist:

My Tears Are Puttin’ Out Your Fire is © 2007 Jon Smith. Co-writers: Jon Smith/Bill Watson, produced by Bill Watson. Used by permission.

That’s the studio version of MTAPOYF I produced in ’07 using mostly the same band pictured above.

Jon’s work was where I learned how to use horns effectively as opposed to creating a train wreck. Arranging, doubling, combining different horns together, stabs, swells, stacked horn tracks… if you have a tune you need sax, trumpet, clarinet or trombone on, or any combination of them, you’re at the right place! Send out an e-mail to nashtrax@bellsouth.net and ask for a quote!

I have the vids around of the band yet too and when I get around to it, will post some footage- b.e.

David Northrup & Bill Watson in a Basket Case video capture

Left: David Northrup drums, Bill Watson Bass Guitar. No wonder the band was called Basket Case. Two prime examples for sure!


Bass Guitarist Available! Bill Watson (Nashville Trax music producer) available for shows in the Nashville area and the U.S.

Do you need a bass guitarist for an upcoming show?

Or a bandleader to assemble a band for your upcoming show here in Nashville or using Nashville-based session or touring musicians?

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Opening The Producer’s Choice Awards in Las Vegas, NV 11-7-18, Bill Watson. bass guitar and bandleader; Jim Riley of Rascal Flatts on drums; Jenee Fleenor of NBC’s The Voice on fiddle, Ten times Music Row Session guitarist of the year, Brent Mason and The Swansons of Los Angeles, CA.

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Interested in hiring Bill to help with your upcoming performance?

Rates for shows in Nashville are negotiable and depend on the number of songs and amount of work and time involved. Outside Nashville rates include travel, per diem and show pay.

Contact him with details of your show via nashtrax@bellsouth.net or text particulars to 615-319-8616

Bill (B.E) Watson playing bass for the Los Angeles based duo, The Swansons on their Nashville debut show with Brent Mason on guitar; Jim Riley (Rascal Flatts) drums’; Joe and Angie Finley; Jenee Fleenor (Blake Shelton/The Voice/Steven Tyler and 2016 CMA Musician of The Year) on fiddle and several other Nashville session quality musicians, Bill Watson band leader:

ShowSwansons

Need chops?

Nashville session player band, Basket Case @ 3rd & Lindsley in Nashville, Bill Watson bass guitarist & bandleader.

Nashville session player band, Basket Case @ 3rd & Lindsley in Nashville, TN Bill “B, E.” Watson bass guitarist & bandleader. Left to rt: Steve King keys (Keith Urban); Holly Covell and Rodney King (session bgv singers); Tom Wild guitar (Mindy McCready) David Northrup drums (Boz Scaggs); Kristen McNamara (Nashville Star, American Idol);; Bill Watson; “Mr. Johnny” sax.

Need a bass guitar player for an upcoming performance you have booked?

Nashville Trax producer, Bill Watson, based in the Nashville Tn area, and a member of The Nashville Trax A Team has many years of experience playing bass on shows and/or filling in on bass guitar on short notice.

 

 

 

 

 

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Bill Watson and Brent Mason minutes before a show featuring The Swansons, an award winning husband and wife duo from Los Angeles, California…

… Game on:

Bill Brent Swansons Show

To book Mr. Watson on bass guitar or have him assemble a band for you contact him with details at nashtrax@bellsouth.net or text to 615-319-8616.

Watson is known for doing his homework and fits into almost any performing situation in the genres of classic rock, modern country, traditional country, and contemporary christian. He has assembled multiple complete bands for various projects.

We live in a video world. One reason to do shows in Nashville is to capture your act on video for future promotion; for posting on social media and your web site and to help sell your act to music industry A&R.

It definitely can increase your credibility to be backed up with some of the very best musicians in the Nashville session and live recording scene. B.E.. can arrange a Nashville based pro video crew of up to three cameras to capture the essential moments in the shows.  Ask about video or photography pricing, it’s likely the best investment you can make in your career.

All photos and videos on this page were taken on shows played in 2015, 2016 and 2017 except the photo above  of Basket Case, the songs of Jon Smith, featuring Kristen McNamara (for which Mr. Watson was the bass player and band leader) was taken in 2009.

B.E. Watson playing bass, Contemporary Christian music with the band at Compassion Church in White House, Tennessee:

Bill Watson, Bass Guitar, Nashville Trax Producer playing with Jamie Braham, Clarksville Riverfest

Above: B,E, Watson playing bass guitar with country singer-songwriter, Jamie Braham, Clarksville Riverfest, Clarksville, TN

 
Watson has also played bass guitar on multiple shows throughout the South, North and Midwest United States including The Sargeant Sisters (based in Pittsburgh, PA), Fishin’ With Dynamite (based in Atlanta, GA) Flashpoint (based in Virginia Beach, VA) and  toured the Midwest with Holiday Road (based in Des Moines, Iowa).

Fees for smaller venues in the Nashville area are negotiable depending on the time involved and distance.

Outside the greater Nashville/Mid-Tennessee/South Kentucky area, there is a reasonable day rate fee,  plus per diem and travel expenses that typically includes time spent charting/learning the show playlist.

Interested in hiring Bill to help with your upcoming performance?

Contact  him with details of your need via nashtrax@bellsouth.net or text particulars to 615-319-8616.


Microphone Locker: The Mojave MA-200

One excellent microphone for vocals as well as other applications.

One excellent microphone for vocals as well as other applications.

This Mojave large diaphragm condenser microphone is one of my favorite go-to mics for lead or background vocals. I’ve also been very pleased when using it on electric guitar amps/cabinets. In vocal A-B-C comparison tests it has won more than any other in the locker.

The MA-200 was created by David Royer of Royer Labs fame and the Mojave is advertised as “sounds like classic German microphones.”

I guess they can’t come right out and say it but I can tell you which “German microphone” it was modeled to sound like: The Neumann U87, no doubt about it. It’s likely the Neumann U87 is the most used mic in Nashville.

By the way, here’s a little tip that just might save one of your song projects someday. Having the right tool, which will often be the Mojave, is great but the singer IS the song! Before investing in tracking be sure you have the right one for the song. For those times you get stuck, bookmark this link. These are some of the singers I use and each is fabulous at what they do and willing to be the vocalist on your project.

Both U87 and the Mojave are advertised as having a flat frequency response from 20 to 20khz, other specs are similar, and, unless examined at extremely close range, they look nearly indistinguishable, even the baskets the microphones sit in are dead ringers.

Some engineers will argue it’s the Neumann U67 clone, and yes, they’re still popular on the used microphone market, but even Neumann no longer makes the U67 only the U87.

Before we go further you should know the following information was obtained at great personal risk and required donning a trench coat, wearing a Fedora, driving hundreds of miles, sleeping in my car overnight, and hiding a camera up my left nostril. It actually felt pretty good up there and cut my Kleenex needs in half, so I haven’t taken it out other than to retrieve the Mojave graph pic below:

Additional proof it’s a U87 clone is contained in the actual frequency response curve, nearly identical to the U87 throughout, except for a slight bump centered around 4k:

MA-200 Frequency Response

MA-200 Frequency Response

I suspect the bump is there intentionally, so no preamp EQ tweaking in that range is necessary. I often don’t need to do any EQ in the preamp stage to the MA-200, it sounds fantastic as-is.

The U67 does have a slight bump. but it’s centered around 1K, not 4. No longer manufactured, wrong bump placement. Nope, doesn’t add up.

The good thing is the MA-200 retails at just over $1,000 complete with power pack, case and basket. The U87 is a budget busting $3,500. It would be interesting to do a blind listening test featuring a U87 and an MA-200 through various pre-amps. How many engineers would stake their reputation on being able to tell the difference? I’ve made that offer around town a few times, and so far, no takers. Hmmmm…

So if the MA-200 so great, why not use it for everything or at least for every singer?

Because there is no such thing as the perfect microphone. Every voice has unique characteristics. Recordings of anything, especially vocals, sound the most natural when the least EQ tweaking is necessary at mix. So you want a microphone up that brings out the best characteristics of that particular vocalist. If, for example, the singer’s wheelhouse is in the high registers and they have an edgy, desirable peak in the upper mids, I want a microphone that brings those features to the forefront.

If you go through tracking tossing up any microphone simply because it records all frequencies, adopting an “I’ll fix it in the mix” approach, you’re going to have a whole lot of unnecessary knob turning happening during mixdown, That is extremely undesirable on vocals, and it can result in a weird, unnatural sounding mix.

The better approach is to choose microphones that reproduce the sounds you want to hear or as close to a particular sound as possible, so very little EQ tweaking is necessary.

When recording a new vocalist, I’ll usually listen to them sing in the control room either a capella, or with just an acoustic guitar as accompaniment. Then I’ll situate them in the vocal booth and start tossing up various microphones while I test record them singing through the Avalon and on into the Pro Tools session file track. If I test 4 microphones I’ll edit the track down to about 15 seconds of each side-by-side in an A, B, C, D style comparison so I can hear how each microphone sounds with their voice, then go with the winner.

At least half the time, that’s the MA-200- b.e.