Roots / USA

Just a Bunch of Musicians, Making Music. - A Few Days in Eau Claire with Shane Leonard

. 7 min read . Written by Krister Axel
Just a Bunch of Musicians, Making Music. - A Few Days in Eau Claire with Shane Leonard

Shane Leonard has built himself a wonderful musical community in Eau Claire, and I was lucky enough to spend a few days with him. The team: Brian Joseph the sound engineer, Courtney Hartman on guitar and vocals, Ben Lester on piano and lap steel, Jeremy Boettcher on supersized bass, and Jon Sunde, also on guitar and vocals. Shane plays drums, and together they create a sort of roots dream-team ensemble, ready to back any songwriter with a song or group of songs ready to go. I found him both through the record label that put out his latest solo project, and also through the music of Anna Tivel whose entire album The Question was produced in the same way, with the same players. I had a song ready to go, I sent it to him, and he liked it. Simple as that. Weightless Heart is a song I wrote about my daughter a few years ago, and I was thrilled to have it recorded with such a great group of players. I think it turned out really nice.

So, we will have a song mixed and mastered, eventually, and I will make a lyric video for that and post it here when ready. But for the moment, I wanted to share the photos I got from the trip. I just invested in a high-end camera for making commercial 360 photos (that's a whole different story) and I am really glad that I brought it along. Most of these shots are with the Nikon 1.4G 50mm, but a few were shot with a Nikon 2.8D 28mm, on a D750.

Eau Claire is a wonderful place to visit, and I have always loved Wisconsin in the Fall. It is just a gorgeous place to be. On the day I arrived we took a quick tour of the studio.

And a few more shots of Brian's house.

On the 2nd day, all the musicians showed up.

We did a few takes, ate some delicious sandwiches, did a few more takes, and a track was born. Every one of these performers is a very talented, down-to-earth professional that was there to do 2 things in order: do a great job, and have a great time. Shane wrote the arrangement, we made some changes to the original song, and together we simplified and reworked until it all felt right. He was an absolute pleasure to work with, but also wasn't afraid to push me in the right direction when necessary.

And for the last hour or two of the session, we were in the midst of a lightning storm. That felt like a sign. :)

This, to me, is what music is all about: bringing talented people together, making art, and having a good time. We did all that. Many thanks to Shane, his wife Michelle, Hive Studios, & Brian and Becca Joseph - you were wonderful hosts and I hope to see you all again soon.

photo credit: Krister Axel, shots of Krister by Ben Lester & Brian Joseph.