BIO (page3)

Soundburst @ 1515 T St.

The studio moves to a new location: 1515 T Street, Sacramento

Another friend I made through the audio engineering course at Sacramento City College was Will Littlejohn, who was already running a studio at 1515 T Street, (where we recorded some Bhakti tracks before I decided to invest in my own equipment), but shortly thereafter became a partner with James Allen in WaveGroup Sound in Santa Clara, moved the operation to San Jose, and eventually owned it outright, expanded it, added locations, and also later became Director of Sound Design at Facebook. When Will was ready to move to the Bay Area, he agreed to rent me the property, so we moved everything from 7th Avenue, added more equipment, changed the name to Soundburst Recording, and finally, Soundburst Digital.

Will Littlejohn

The new space was definitely cool, and quite a nice improvement over our makeshift set-up at 7th Ave. The place was much bigger than it looks from the front, as it had additions and renovations over the years. Will had set up a control room at the back of the second floor, with a snake and video cabling strung out across the back yard to a separate building at the back of the property which housed the main recording room, with additional isolation rooms also set up on the 2nd floor of the house. He also left a very nice Baldwin grand piano on the main floor, which we would mic-up when needed.

Kate Christmas

Prior to moving to T Street, I had met talented singer/songwriter/guitarist Kate Christmas one night while waiting in line at The Palms, a great funky old barn converted to very hip music venue in Winters, CA, just west of Sacramento, near Davis. I think we were there to see Dan Hicks that night. We discovered we were both originally from Pennsylvania (she had come to Sacramento via New Orleans), had similar music tastes, and were both big fans of Daniel Lanois. She had met and become friendly with Dan and his engineer Mark Howard while they had a studio in NOLA.

Kate Christmas & me at 1515 T Street

Kate was already helping me with tracks for “Alleluia” prior to the move, and continued working with me both as a client and collaborator over the next few years. She recorded several songs of her own at Soundburst, and blew me away with her very original and creative vocal takes on my song “Levanto!” which remains one of my favorite recordings. She now resides in Raleigh, NC, and has a group named “Witness Protection”

Steven Thompson

The T Street studio was up and running, and was starting to be a busy place. Michelle Ryan was invaluable in her assistance with one of our early clients, Steven Thompson, an incredibly talented classical pianist and tenor vocalist. We worked on two of his albums that were released by Alta Nova Records, “Un Sospiro”, a solo piano collection, and “Misa Criolla, Songs of Spain and Latin America” with Steven singing tenor, and David Chapman on guitar. The sessions for “Un Suspiro” were recorded with a mobile rig we put together consisting of a Tascam DA-88, a pair of our AKG-414’s, and a pair of Steve’s Telefunken microphones along with high-end pre-amps at the Church of Westminster in downtown Sacramento.

Michelle’s knowledge of reading complex transcriptions and arrangements of Steven’s selections were critical in editing and mixing sessions that were supervised by Steven during the completion of this project.

We were very proud of these projects, and I sincerely hope Steven has had all the success he deserves.

Ron McMaster

Ron McMaster

At this point I should mention our continuing association with Ron McMaster, who’s name you may have noticed earlier on T. Wilson King’s album credits for duplication services at a company he had set up for a while downtown, called Sacramento Audio / Video. Ron was already a renowned mastering engineer at Capitol Records, preparing masters for vinyl duplication. I guess when CD’s started over-selling vinyl discs he wasn’t quite as busy as he’d been, so he returned to Sacramento, where he was from, and opened his own business. However, he returned to Capitol Records and subsequently expanded the roster of talent that he worked on, especially after vinyl became popular again thanks to audiophiles who believe that vinyl records sound better. During this period, though, he was mastering for CD’s and vinyl, and did the mastering on Steven Thompson’s CD’s, as well as my first album (unreleased, except to family and friends) “Left At The Light”, and had done some duplicating for me on earlier “Bhakti” demos.

Here’s a link to a Variety article published upon announcement of his retirement from Capitol Records after 38 years. Wishing you all the best in your retirement, Ron!

Fernando Rios

I had a few Spanish speaking clients, including a band specializing in Norteño, or the music of Northern Mexico, and an extremely gifted singer/songwriter named Fernando Rios, who recorded one of the most beautiful songs I had the pleasure to help produce, “A Esta Humanidad”. If I can find him, and get permission, I will be posting an MP3 of one of the versions we recorded, here.

Fernando Rios

Silvia Fleming

Another one of my favorite projects was a Christmas album produced by singer Silvia Fleming, (one amazing voice) entitled “One Amazing Night”. The first two tracks, including the title track, were written by her friend Jeanne Haidary, who also played piano on the song “One Amazing Night”, co-written by Jeff Needleman. We were all very happy with the completed project, and hopefully I will soon get permission to post a track or two here.

Doug Cash /

One of the mainstays throughout the Soundburst saga was Doug Cash, an amazingly proficient musician/singer/songwriter who recorded many a track at the studio under various alter egos, all promoted through his website The music was eclectic and ran the gamut from blues to pop to experimental. I owe a debt of gratitude to Doug, because of his streaming of one of my songs on one of his collections, I was able to secure my membership with ASCAP. Here is some artwork from a couple of his projects:

Doug Cash, second from left, and The Snapdragons

John Tillison

Another client who logged a lot of hours at Soundburst Digital while I was at 1515 T Street, was John Tillison, an exciting motivational speaker who recorded a series of spoken word recordings (complete with sound effects and music beds) that encouraged the listener to become their best selves and achieve their goals through self-coaching and referral to his CD’s and “Pocket Coach Card” which summarized his advice with a bullet pointed “Ten-Point Checklist for Success” included in each package, along with a 500% money-back guarantee! John was very sincere in his approach to helping people realize their highest potential.

Here’s some images from his “Aim High!” program:

Dear Friends Band

For good ol’ down home heart-felt Rock’n’Roll, Arv Jarzemkoski and his Dear Friends Band offered one of my most fun projects in the recording of their album “Follow Your Heart”. Arv produced and led his crew through his original compositions with a spirit and verve that was palpable through repeated listenings. Highly recommended!

Here’s some images from this release. (Sorry, Arv, the front cover of my copy became damaged and faded, so not included here.)

John Pearce

One of the most talented guitarists I had the pleasure to work with was John Pearce, who recorded a couple of projects at the studio, and was poised to do more, but these were among the last client sessions I booked before departing from Sacramento. His first was this demo:

I was extremely happy to receive this memo from him subsequent to completing the demo project, and was honored that he booked additional sessions later with Susan McDonald for an EP of of guitar duet selections for a forthcoming album called Mariposa, “That Weekend in September”.