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Jeff Wirtzfeld / Blog

"Smarter Man" Song Notes

The song features Allan Bumgartner on bass (Epiphone Jack Casady model), Fred English on lead and rhythm guitars (Fender Stratocaster), Jeff Battershill on drums (the studio set), Brenna Crandall and Lori Sanderson on backing vocals, and me on lead vocal and playing rhythm guitars (Fender Stratocaster and a Telecaster). My lead vocal and two of the rhythm guitar tracks were recorded at my studio: Blue Scooter Studio and the remaining tracks were recorded at Galvanized Music Studio in Littleton, Colorado. All engineering and production at Galvanized Music Studio was done by Allan and Fred. The song was mixed by Allan, Fred, Jeff, and me at the studio as well. I also want to thank Mike Nichols and Barry McLeod for dropping by to visit some of the studio sessions and providing support and input toward this song. We hope you enjoy “Smarter Man.” Finally, if you like this song and you are a Reverbnation artist; please leave us a comment about your impression of “Smarter Man” through the “add comment” function at the bottom of our page. That way I can accept it and a link with your profile picture and page will appear so that visitors can check out your music too. If you are on Facebook, please leave us a comment; hit the “like” button…or both. Thanks. For more information (and more music!) please visit: www.reverbnation.com/jwirtzfeld www.facebook.com/jeff.wirtzfeld

I appreciate your interest and support of our music. Jeff Wirtzfeld with… Allan Bumgartner Jeff Battershill Brenna Crandall

Fred English

Lori Sanderson

"Faded Picture" Song Notes

“Faded Picture” was the first song I brought over to Allan in the studio three years ago after our chance meeting in a recording class which was taught by the Apple Records artist and music producer Lon Van Eaton. To learn more about our friend Lon and his music, click here: http://www.applerecords.com/#!/artists/Lon_Derek_Van_Eaton After cutting an initial demo of this song in 2008 (see my music video to hear the demo) we have recently decided to produce a more robust version of the song which is included for your review and, hopefully, listening pleasure. The song features Allan on Bass, Mike Nichols on lead guitar, Jeffrey Cunningham on drums, Laurice Quinn on backing vocals, and me on acoustic guitar and lead vocals. All tracks were recorded at Galvanized Music Studio in Littleton, Colorado. The song was mixed by Allan, Fred English, Jeff Battershill, and me at the studio as well.

"Ugly Sunglasses" Song Note

Summer is around the corner and it’s time for a beach song—with a cowbell. This rocker features Jeff Battershill on cowbell—and drums; Allen Bumgartner on bass; Chazz Warriner on backing vocals; and I want to introduce Fred English on lead guitar. I am playing the various rhythm guitar tracks and I’m on lead vocals. As far as the technical details go, Fred played a Hamer guitar with a vibrato through a V-Tone amp. A Shure 545 mic was used on the left guitar channel and an Audix I5 was used on the right channel. Fred also used a Boss Metal Zone pedal and a Boss (DD6) delay pedal. Jeff used the studio drum kit and equally important, he used the studio cowbell. Allen used a Fernandez Jazz Bass copy directly into an Alembic pre-amp and then into the computer. I used my Fender American Standard Telecaster (pictured below) with a Fulltone Fulldrive2 pedal. Allen provided all engineering, production, and with Fred, Jeff and me, all mixing for this song. My vocal and guitar tracks were recorded at Blue Scooter Studio and all other tracks on this song, as well as the final mix, took place at Galvanized Music Studio in Littleton, Colorado. We wish you all a nice summer and we hope you enjoy “Ugly Sunglasses.” Finally, if you like this song and you are a Reverbnation artist, please leave us a comment about your impression of “Ugly Sunglasses” through the “add comment” function at the bottom of our page. That way I can accept it and a link with your profile picture and page will appear so that visitors can check out your music too. If you are on Facebook, please leave us a comment; hit the “like” button…or both. For more information (and more music!) please visit: www.reverbnation.com/jwirtzfeld www.facebook.com/jeff.wirtzfeld I appreciate your interest and support of our music. Thanks from all of us: Allen, Jeff B., Chazz, Fred, and me.

(c) 2011 Blue Scooter Productions (ASCAP)

"Without a Name" Song Notes

The recording of this song was an experiment between two studios: my home studio, Blue Scooter Studio, and Allan Bumgartner’s full-fledged Galvanized Music Studio.

Allan and I wanted to explore the possibility of recording portions of a song in remote locations and then mixing and finalizing the song his studio since we had not tried that before.

“Without a Name” is the result of our experimentation.

The lead vocal, distorted rhythm guitar, lead guitar lines, and piano were all recorded by me on a simple and inexpensive M-Audio Fast Track audio USB interface. The lead vocal was recorded on a MXL V63M condenser microphone. The rhythm guitar was recorded through my one-and-only pedal: a Full-Drive 2. The lead guitar was also put through this box. To get different tones for the lead lines, I simply varied the neck position I played the notes on and switched to different pickup settings throughout the song and I tried to get a slide-type sound on the outro which then moves back into a twangy country riff. All electric guitar parts were played on either my 1952 reissue Telecaster or my American Standard Telecaster. For the initial piano track, I used an inexpensive and small child’s electric piano and I recorded it with a Shure SM58 pointed in close proximity to the small speaker (very low-tech). I then took the tracks over to Allen at Galvanized Music Studio for the rest of the productions where I then added some additional piano tracks, using Allan’s studio keyboard, and an acoustic guitar track utilizing my Taylor 710ce. We also recorded additional lead vocals tracks in the studio and Allan blended together with my original track.

Allan Bumgarter played the bass track using his trusty Jack Casady signature bass.

Jeff Battershill added a nice arrangement that I really like on drums. Jeff used the studio drum kit for this performance.

I am pleased to welcome back Brenna Crandall, a member of the Denver-based group From the Heart, who sings background vocals on this track. Some of you will remember Brenna from her fine performances on my song “Devil Winds.”

As usual, the final track was engineered, and produced by Allan, and was mixed by Jeff Battershill, Allan and me in Galvanized Music Studio in Littleton, Colorado.

"The Automobile" Song Notes

“The Automobile” is a tribute to my love of cars, and by extension, America’s love of the automobile. It is certainly not a new theme for songwriters, so this is simply my contribution to the sub-genre. We were aiming for a retro and sparse 1960’s type garage band sound with this song. The track features Jeff Battershill on drums and backing vocals, Allan Bumgartner on bass, and I played all guitar parts on this one. Additionally, Laurice Quinn makes a return to sing backup vocals with me on this song. The track was produced and engineered by Allan at Galvanized Music Studio in Littleton, CO. Jeff used the Galvanized Music Studio drum set which is a 1980's era Tama Swingstar drum kit with upgraded Gibralter hardware and Sabian Pro cymbals. Allan used his Jack Casady signature bass plugged directly into an Alembic F2-B stereo tube bass preamp and recorded the bass directly. I used my sunburst American Standard Telecaster for the rhythm riff that runs through the whole track. The Tele was plugged into a Crate amplifier. I also used a Reissue Gibson J-165 acoustic from the studio which was recorded with a mic near the guitar’s soundhole. For the solo portions, I used Allan’s vintage Japanese Stratocaster which he plugged into two small amps in series: first a Silvertone model 1481, and then a "007"amp (a very cool small 60’s era blue amp that simply says “007”on the front of the amp). Allan placed an AKG model D190E mic in front of each amp, one pinky finger's distance from the grill cloth. The volume was set wide open on both amps and no effects were used—all the distortion you hear is natural and directly from the amps. Since we were trying for a retro garage rock sound, Allan and I added handclaps during the guitar solo section and at the end. We hope you like “The Automobile.”

© 2010 Jeff Wirtzfeld, Blue Scooter Productions (ASCAP)

"English Rain" Song Notes

This is a folk ballad about loss, remembrance and hope which is framed by references to various English items which I like.

The song features Allan Bumgartner on bass; the harmony and backing vocals were performed by Laurice Quinn and Charles “Chazz” Warriner. I played the harmonica and all guitars. I used a Taylor acoustic for the first rhythm track, and a Rickenbacker for the arpeggios, the opening guitar riff, and the chords in the bridge of the song. Both guitars were used on the solo section.

This was originally a fast paced, harmonica-laden number but after recording the fast version, Allan and Chazz suggested to me that it might just be a nice ballad, so we slowed it down, made the harmonica sound more like an accordion, and had the song end abruptly much as the relationship recounted in the song may have. I also added a guitar solo in the middle of the song.

All production and engineering was done by Allan at Galvanized Music Studio in Littleton, CO.

We hope you enjoy “English Rain.”

"Devil Winds" Song Notes

Devil Winds: A song about the myth, and reality, of the Santa Ana Winds. This song features core group members Allan Bumgartner on bass, Jeff Battershill on drums and backing vocals, and Mike Nichols, who played the incredible slide guitar licks. We also have a special guest: Brenna Crandall on background vocals, harmonica and shakers. Allan and Galvanized Music Studio provided all engineering and production on this song.

I think I used my '52RI Tele for the electric rhythm track, but it may have been an American Standard Telecaster, I just can't recall. I believe the electric rhythm track was played through a Line 6 modeling amp with moderate gain settings. The slide part was originally going to be played by Mike on his Jimi Hendrix Tribute Strat but Allan, as the music producer for Galvanized Music Studio, suggested he use a hollowbody guitar. Mike picked up a hollow body that is one of Allan's studio guitars and got the amazing sound you hear on this track in one or two takes. The guitar was played through a small tube amp which contributed to the overdriven sound. The unique bass sound at the beginning of the song is a special touch that Allan employed utilizing his Jack Casady signature bass model, and effects. I think it perfectly sets the stage for the song and sounds somewhat ominous.

Jeff Battershill is playing the studio drum set and you'll hear his signature stylistic touches on the set throughout the song.

It is our pleasure to have Brenna Crandall as a special guest performer on this track. Along with Jeff, Brenna sang the background vocals. She also played harmonica and shakers to round out the sound of this song.

We all hope you enjoy, "Devil Winds."

-Jeff

"Into the Night" Song Notes

This track features include two special guests: my friends Danny Masters and Lori Gorklo. Danny played the lead guitar and Lori sang all of the backup vocals. Additionally, this song includes the rock-solid rhythm section of Allan Bumgartner on bass and Jeff Battershill on drums. This song was engineered and produced by Allan at his recording facility: Galvanized Music Studio.

Like most of my songs, I wrote this on an acoustic guitar but I envisioned it as an electric song from the very beginning. I thought it would be a good song to start a music set with as it starts off sparse and then really kicks in with the entire electric band and the intensity continues to ramp up and then fades into the air—or into the night in this case—at the end.

As far as the music, I used a ’52RI Telecaster to play the power chords which are the base of the song, and we built everything on that initial track. I played the Tele through a basic Line 6 amp on the “Tweed” setting, which I recall is an emulation of a ‘50s Fender Bassman amp. Allan and I were going for a vintage-type guitar sound. Allan applied reverb to the basic track to get what he calls the “chuga-chuga” sound which is a perfect description of what we wanted to do.

I also played a Taylor acoustic to fill out the rhythm and used a Standard Tele through a clean amp to play arpeggios (which are prominent at the beginning of the song) and to add some high sparkle to the mix.

Jeff Battershill played the drums on this track. You will hear some of his trademark drums rolls and I am always amazed when I hear the playback of one of his sessions all the other little special touches that he added that I wasn’t even aware of when he recorded the track. In particular, I like the small cymbal roll he adds right before my first vocal appearance. It’s perfect. It’s like a dinner bell ringing at the end of the day and it transitions very well as an introduction to the Tele arpeggios which follow the roll a second later.

This song has a specific drive underlying everything and that’s a tribute not only to Allan as the producer and the engineer of the song but also due to the fact that he played the bass on this track. I think he nailed a very unique groove with his bass complimenting the guitar and bass drum.

Danny Masters is a well-known guitarist with years of musical experiences including the release of numerous CDs, tours, musical instruction though the Danny Masters Music Studio here in Denver, a musical judge, and probably a host of other things I am not even aware of. Danny played the lead guitar on this track in essentially two diverse parts. He laid down some county-type licks at the beginning of the song and then as the band enters, he steps it up rapidly at the perfect moment. He definitely has a signature lead guitar style that is very fluid and complimentary to the spirit of the whole song.

Lori Gorklo provided all the back up vocals for this song and there is a lot going on there. I just love what she did by multi-tracking different parts to achieve this. I watched her lay down a backing track and then take a short break and come right back and lay down a totally different track which complemented and enhanced the previous one. Having her do these vocals gave this song a fantastic and full sound.

I really appreciated Danny and Lori helping me out as guest artists on this track. To learn more about them, please visit:

• The Danny Masters Band/Penchant: http://www.penchantmusic.com

• Penchant on Reverbnation: http://www.reverbnation.com/penchant

• They have just released a new CD of Danny’s classic music entitled “Cancion.” Please go to this site to for information about previewing and ordering the CD: http://dannymastersguitar.com/fr_home.cfm Finally, I want to thank Allan and Galvanized Music Studio for making the whole thing possible. When it comes to a creative and collaborative musical work environment, there is simply no one better.

-Jeff

"Decline Before the Fall" Song Notes

This is the first song I wrote about three years ago. I begin writing it in the dimly lit early morning hours in my living room while watching an episode of “The Actors Workshop” which featured an interview with Angelina Jolie. I had the chord progression for this song in my head and worked it out on an acoustic guitar. I started the song with the line, “Her name was Angelina,” and the rest of the story followed from there.

This song features the core recording group of Allan Bumgartner on Bass, Jeff Battershill on Drums and harmony vocals, Mike Nichols on rhythm and lead guitars, and me on rhythm guitar and lead vocals. The track was recorded at Galvanized Music Studio in Littleton, Colorado with Allan providing all of the recording engineering and music production on this track.

We hope you enjoy “Decline Before the Fall,” and the four of us want to thank you for your continued interest in, and support of, my songs.

-Jeff

"The Distance" Song Notes

“The Distance” is a song that I wrote a couple of years ago. The spark of the song came out of story I read about a married woman in the Midwest who was active in her community and volunteered to tutor prisoners at the local prison. The story got interesting when she became attached to a prisoner and ultimately helped him to escape from the prison. As the story came to a tragic conclusion, the woman was apprehended and asked why she did this. Her response was to make reference to what I think is a line from the French playwright Honore de Balzac: “The heart has its reasons that reason can't explain.” I may be misquoting but it was with that notion with which I begin to write this song.

I recorded the vocals and the acoustic guitar with Allan in late 2008. Allan applied some special recording techniques to my Taylor acoustic guitar which gave it a very nice and full sound. He also added a bass line and asked Jeff Battershill to come in and add drums tracks. Allan recorded Jeff separately and I actually did not meet Jeff until nearly a year after the original recording when we were to work together on a few of my other tracks.

We had all but forgotten about this track until recently when Allan suggested we resurrect it. Since Jeff and I have worked in the past three months on the basic rhythm tracks for all my songs (nearly all of my songs start with Jeff on drums and me on guitar intially) we have our system down pretty well so when we decided to re-cut the drum tracks, it only took 3-4 takes and he had it down pat and incorporated many subtle and very nice percussion elements. We kept the bass and rhythm guitar tracks from 2008, and my single mic vocal track.

When we met this weekend to work on the song, Mike brought in his son David (16) and daughter Kristen (19) to Galvanized Music Studio for a visit. Kristen is a singer-songwriter who plays guitar and David is a lead guitarist. Since I have two boys and I hope that they will grow up to share my love of music I was happy to see that Kristen and David obviously love music like Mike does. During the afternoon we decided to have David play the lead solo on this track and also have Kristen add the background vocals. I am excited about the result: David’s solo is very fluid and adds a unique element to this song that I couldn’t have come up with and Kristen’s backing vocals add another special touch to the sound and round it out.

I enjoy the collaboration and innovation that occurs when I record at Galvanized Music Studio and this track is a great example of that. In addition to the regular rock-solid members of the band, It was great to work with two young talented artists on this song. I know Mike is very proud of David and Kristen, and I think you will hear why...in “The Distance.”

-Jeff