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!


A Great Day Recording Music At Nashville Trax!

Songwriter Kerry McFate (left) and producer Bill Watson (right) take a break from mixing songs for Kerry’s Clarence Lowden album.

Songwriter Kerry McFate (left) and producer Bill Watson (right) take a break from mixing songs for Kerry’s Clarence Lowden album.

Wow! A truly fantastic day today tracking the first songs for the Kerry McFate CD at Nashville Trax. Two days of rain welcoming him to Nashville couldn’t dampen his enthusiasm that only increased as the recording progressed. Kerry ended that evening with, “Bill, this is way beyond anything I could have possibly imagined, just incredible, I’m so excited!”

Drummer David Northrup laid down fabulous tracks, including a couple of country shuffle beats, for Tom Wild, Wanda Vick, Mike Douchette and other session players to build on. As always, the Nashville Trax studio drum kit sounds were killer.

Kerry played his new Taylor acoustic purchased just for the session. It was routed through the Avantone CK-7 large diaphragm microphone plugged into the Avalon compressor/preamp, a combination I’ve come to rely on for acoustic instruments and it produced the rich, full bodied sound with excellent articulation it always does. We’re getting a reputation for delivering excellent acoustic guitar, fiddle, dobro and mandolin sounds.

Part of the fun for clients coming in to town is hanging out with the session players between takes. Kerry was treated to stories from David about his recent gigs with Wynonna and other artists, a story from Mike Douchette about how, back in the day, a master tape with hundreds of thousands of dollars of work on it, the only copy, was accidentally erased by some drunk guys clowning around who decided it would be a good idea to record their antics and grabbed the wrong tape to record over. Just lots of priceless stuff I’m sure Kerry will delight in sharing with everyone back home.

Tom Wild played two of the tunes on the same rig he used to played The Opry this past weekend, a maple Telecaster direct through his pedal board that could have easily passed for a Fender Twin Reverb amp.

Early vocal tracking on Kerry’s project, then mix tomorrow, I can’t wait to get at these fabulous tracks!- b.e.