There are so many people I want to thank for their part in BLOOD RED MOON. I decided not to put it on my CD cover, because it just took up too much real estate on that little piece of cardboard. And when I got to thinking about it, I don’t think I have ever actually read the acknowledgments on a CD or album cover. Just haven’t. But I figured if you came to my website, you came there first, hopefully to buy my CD, and then possibly to read what I had to say about some things, like who I wanted to thank for their help.
Gotta start out with blood. There’s my husband, Paul Nader and my kids, Wallis and Matt. Along with my parents, Bob and Vicky Bergin, they’re my biggest fans. I think they’re all quite shocked at this, not from the standpoint that they’re surprised that I did it, because they’re used to me doing weird, and occasionally unexpected things, but from the standpoint that they’ve really never heard me sing! Really. I have such incredibly low-singing-self-esteem (LSSE), that I never sang in front of them. I would literally wait until no one was home, with the door alarm chime on, so I would know if someone were to sneak back in the house, and I’d go back to the bedroom and close the door. And even then, I would eke out just enough sound to hear what I was singing over the guitar noise! But now, they are my biggest fans, and I thank them for that. Of course, my mom says she always knew I had it in me…
And I want to thank Jane Gillman again, because she gave BLOOD RED MOON that little sumthin’, sumthin’ it wouldn’t have had if she hadn’t produced it. Not only did she contribute her awesome musical skills to the project, with her guitar, banjo, octave mandolin, harmonica, dulcimer, tambourine and even the little bell on Low Water Bridge, she gave the CD a lot of soul. It almost goes without saying, that she picked the best quality musicians for the work, but she also picked the nuanced sound she thought each musician could contribute to each song. It was a lengthy, loving and beautiful process…for me at least. I hope she feels the same way.
Merel Bregante. My sound engineer. Jane picked him and his studio, Cribworks Digital Audio because she knew he was a gentle soul, and would treat me kindly. I was a nervous wreck, and she felt that, like ying and yang, our labors would be well aligned, and indeed they were. Merel was patient, encouraging and just a doggone bunch of fun. He and his talented wife, Sarah Pierce, and I were kindred spirits in a way, having interests in music, medicine, ranching and horses. We’re fast friends now. And he came bundled with a slew of friends, who are now my friends of friends. Merel would say, “It don’t get no better than that.” Thank you Merel Bregante.
Cris Burns and Mark Viator also did some of the mastering, and I appreciate their help. I didn’t actually have the opportunity to work directly with Cris. I was just unable to work around…work. But he did a great job providing me with recordings of some of my background instruments and vocals. I did some preliminary recording at Mark’s Rambleheart Studio. He helped me get my feet wet, and just to get a feel for the process. It was there that I also realized I was probably not up to playing guitar on all twelve of my songs…an important discovery. Mark also did an incredible job playing acoustic and electric slide guitars on Blood Red Moon, contributing to its soulful, mysterious feel.
And speaking of friends of Merel, I want to thank Jerry Tubb and his wife, Diane, at Terra Nova Digital Audio, for their TLC, when it came to the mastering of BLOOD RED MOON. To be honest, I really didn’t understand the mastering process, other than it’s something that just gets done. Jerry insisted that I go to his studio for this process, and I’m so glad I did. It was a blast. He pointed things out that I would never have heard. I got to pick the amount of time between each song: something I always thought was just some standard count. After he sent me the mastered copy, I dropped all my songs into my random playlist on iTunes. Every once in a while I would hear a song I didn’t recognize. The intensity, clarity or quality of those songs were apparent, and sounded just like the other songs before them, like Led Zeppelin and U2 songs. After the intro, I would start to recognize it as one of my songs. I finally understood the importance of mastering.
And a big shout out to my friend and fellow singer/songwriter, Rattlesnake Annie. I have learned so much about the music industry, singing, and songwriting from her. She’s just been a great friend throughout this process, always lending her experienced ear to my inexperienced mouth! I’m not sure where I would be right now, in this process, without her invaluable advice. And she has some stories to tell. Snake has been playing music since she was a child, and oh to hear about the places she’s been and the people she’s met and played guitar with, has also been priceless. It’s been a privilege to know her and hear her story.
I want to thank each and every musician who contributed to this work, starting with Rich Brotherton. Jane gave me good advice right off the bat. Though I can play the guitar, and I do on a few of my songs, she said that since I was inexperienced in the recording studio, it would be better to get a professional, specifically Rich Brotherton, because not only could he get the job done, he was a helluva lot better than me. I think that pretty much set the stage for what was to come. Thank you Rich, for the expert and thoughtful work you did on my tunes (with guitar, cittern and mandolin). But I have to admit, that the entire time I listened to you work my songs, I was reminded of a quote which has been attributed to Lao Tzu (the father of Taoism). He said something like, those who live in the past are depressed. Those who live in the future are anxious. It is only by living in the present that we can be at peace. I pretty much stayed depressed over the past, and the fact that I didn’t try to compete with those guitar-playing high school boys, and I didn’t keep practicing and getting better with my guitar skills during college, med school and residency, so that maybe I could play just a little like Rich Brotherton. But a sort of positive thing came out of it, besides the very positive finished product, and that is that I’m very anxious about my future guitar playing, and that’s making me take more lessons and practice more, so that maybe I can just play a little like Rich Brotherton by the time I exit stage left. There’s no peace for me in this process now…
Actually, I could pretty much say that about every artist who contributed to this project. David Carroll and his bass fiddle, brought richness to every one of my tunes. He also did some background singing on Possum’s in the Corn and Whistlin’ Train. I love to listen to him back me up on those songs. He was perrrfect for the part!
Jane Gillman. I’ve said so much already, but I can never say enough. So much talent, and I think BLOOD RED MOON showcased those talents. She played instruments on five of my songs, and sometimes played two and three instruments in a single song. She played a stand out harmonica on Blood Red Moon. It instantly reminded me of the enigmatic harmonica tune Charles Bronson didn’t really play in Once Upon a Time in the West.
Merel Bregante. Not only was he my sound engineer, but he tossed in some of his drum-playing and singing expertise as well. Isn’t life strange? Never in a million years, when I was grooving to Loggins & Messina in college, would I, or could I have even imagined that someday their drummer would be my sound engineer and contribute some background work on some of my own tunes. Well, first I would have said, “What tunes? I didn’t even bring my guitar to Lubbock, Texas, and I can only play G, C and D.” And then they would have said, “Well, he’s actually gonna play on one of your G, C and D songs, and believe it or not, you’re gonna learn some other chords, and he’s gonna play AND sing on a couple of those songs too!” And I would’ve said, “Shut the front door. No way.” And they would’ve said, “Way.” And there it is, one of those happy coincidences in life, that are just kind of amazing, and ridiculously lucky.
Jane had T Jarrod Bonta in mind for two of my songs from the very get go. I don’t think I would have thought to place a piano in either of the two songs. But Jane did, and Warm Place and Low Water Bridge were the better for it.
My background vocalists were friends and music family members, many of whom I met through Girl Guitar. Mandy Rowden, Becca McCann and Tanya Winch did lovely work on several of my songs. Merel Bregante, David Carroll and Darcie Deaville pitched in too!
The rest of the musicians played single instruments, hand-picked by Jane, each being chosen for a very specific role, and each was like a perfect little jewel in their part. There was Darcie Deaville on the mandolin and fiddle in Like Father Like Son/Cluck Old Hen. Beth Chrisman played the fiddle all the way to a heartrending end on She Danced with the Young Prince of Wales.
I wanted a soulful accordion sound for my Captain of the Robert E. Lee, in order to give it that Louisiana feel, and Jane found Chip Dolan for the part.
Three Eggs in my Apron required another free-reed instrument, and Jane reached out to Erica Braverman, to play her concertina, giving my ‘wedding song’ that British Isles flavor.
Cathy Fink’s classic bluegrass banjo picking was just what the doctor ordered for my traditional-style, call and repeat, bluegrass song, Possum’s in the Corn.
I played my guitar on songs in which either I had a very unique finger-picking groove which no one else could precisely emulate (Blood Red Moon, Warm Place), a unique flat-picking strum which I couldn’t impart to anyone else because it was just weird (Three Eggs in my Apron), or I was just trying to show off my newly-learned, rudimentary, bluegrass-flat-pickin’ skills (the Cluck Old Hen part of Like Father Like Son). Thank you to OJ Laier for teaching me how to Travis finger-pick, the next skill I learned after I memorized a few more major, minor, seventh, and a few bar chords. And thanks once more, to Jane for helping me first figure out how to hold a pick, and then strum without flipping it into the air halfway through the song, and finally setting me on a course of learning how to flat pick a melody, which will keep me occupied for the rest of my life. I’ve only got time on my side, right?
And last, but not necessarily least, I want to thank Larisa Montanaro for doing some last minute scrambling to help me with my vocals half-way through the project, when I was just petering out, and trying to grapple with my nerves, breathing and inexperienced vocal cords all at once.
I hope I haven’t left anyone out. And I certainly hope I have given everyone their due. If you feel under-esteemed, it is not intentional. To me it feels like all of these musicians did their very best for me and each of my songs. And I thank them from the bottom of my heart. Anatomically, I think the top of the heart is pretty dang important too, so I thank them from there too.
Thanks to Norah Levine for her loving attention to detail when she took the photos for the CD cover and my website out at my family’s Palo Blanco Ranch in Smithville, Texas. And thanks to Jess Glebe for taking those pictures and making them into my lovely CD cover. And last but not least, to my website designer, Paul Warren. He designed my medical blog web page, drbarbarabergin.com, as well as this website, and I love both of his creations. Can’t wait to see what he does with my barbaraberginink website when I finally get around to finishing my second novel, THE WISH. It’s going to be a little while, because there is still “music rolling in my head.”