BIO (page 2)

The Sacramento Years

It took a while to get settled in to new routines; a new day job, caring for Zach, and meeting new people, meanwhile practicing and writing new songs. I was ready to start looking for weekend gigs, so had my poster updated, a hybrid of the two earlier Mark Peters versions:

A ZAP Productions artist, named after my son, Zachariah Alan Petrie

I’ll never forget the day I went to pick up my order from the printer. I was in their lobby, and I suddenly felt like I was a little dizzy or something for a few seconds, and then noticed everyone in the shop was silent and the lamps, which were hanging from the ceiling on chains, were swinging back and forth. It was 5:04 PM, October 17, 1989, and the Loma Prieta earthquake had just struck near Santa Cruz, almost 150 miles away, and the earth was rolling beneath our feet all the way over here in Sacramento. Welcome to California, indeed!

Shortly before leaving Phoenix, I met a talented singer/songwriter jazz/pop artist from New York City, who had also moved west to pursue her career, Mairi Gearey, at a lounge she was working at, and we got together a few times to jam and trade ideas. We kept in touch after I moved to Sacramento, and about a year or so later, she moved to town, too. We were kind of an item, and I helped her prepare some demo tapes, and sat in with her at a few of her gigs. I postponed my solo project while I supported her ambitions. She was an excellent singer and keyboardist. Here’s a picture of her and a promo sheet that was prepared by another fan, who was representing her as her manager:

Personal and professional conflicts of interest prevented us from continuing on a path together, and eventually Mairi returned to New York. I hope she had continued success, but we fell out of touch.

Shortly after Mairi’s departure, I started attending a spiritual fellowship of adherents to the Sufi Order In The West, which was being led by an adept facilitator by the name of Elijah Campis. The focus was on the teachings of Pir-O-Murshid (Hazrat) Inayat Khan, who had brought his message to the US back in 1910, and of his son and successor, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan. I was already quite familiar with the teachings, having discovered Pir Vilayat’s 1974 cult classic masterpiece “Toward The One” years before at a bookshop in Ames, Iowa, while I was troubadoring around the state, and following up with a number of texts by the senior Khan. In my personal bio, I will address my flirtations with a number of different spiritual philosophies that I investigated over the years. Anyway, Elijah was great and could really get you to climb deep inside yourself as he waxed poetic with our small group.

It was about this time that I came up with an idea for an original spiritual music project, and put out a call for talent:

The birth of Mystic Dream Merchants, and first use of the logo I would use in future projects.

This flyer generated a pretty good response, and I met quite a few interesting people because of it, but the project didn’t develop into anything, mainly due to the divergence of personalities and beliefs, and unfortunately I had neither the time nor inclination to coordinate and focus such a diverse group. As often happens, the idea sounded better on paper.

However, one guy I met around this time, and I’m not sure if our meeting was related to this proposed project, was Dan Kaake, an extremely talented musician who seemed to be able to pick up almost any instrument and instantly produce interestingly beautiful music. He became a good friend (and occasional drinking buddy) and later helped me collect and install my first semi-professional recording studio that we set up in the house I was renting on 7th Avenue, just north of Land Park in Sacramento. Prior to that, though, we had many a late night jamming and recording on my old PortaStudio. (I will be inserting a track or two here, once I find and digitize them) Later, Dan moved to Thailand to teach English and I only heard from him a few times after that. He’s another someone I’d really like to hear from again, but before he left, I did get one picture of him:

Daniel Kaake / Mugician

Back To School

It was also in this general timeframe that I found out about an Audio Engineering class that was available at Sacramento City College. It was very affordable, and I thought I might get to record some new demos on equipment that was better than I had been using. Once I checked out the studios at the college, I could hardly believe how modern and cutting edge the whole operation was. It had been proposed and brought to fruition by the head of the music department at that time, Gil Woody, who fortuitously took advantage of funding that became available through the implementation of the California Lottery, the proceeds of which were earmarked for the state’s education system. Great move, Gil!

I met a lot of great people through the class, and became extremely interested in all the technical aspects of creating professional sounding recordings. At first we were working strictly on analog equipment, the main studio being outfitted with a 2 inch 24 track tape machine, and a colossal mixing desk with tons of outboard gear. Learning how to align & calibrate the 24 track was priceless experience in and of itself, now a lost art for the most part. A year or two later, I helped install their first Pro Tools digital studio. And all the while I was totally psyched-up about investing in a studio of my own, now that digital technology was making that kind of dream more affordable for a wider segment of recording enthusiasts.

One of the biggest benefits of the class was our instructor, John Altmann, who had an incredibly infectious enthusiasm for the art of recording. He previously had his own studio in the Bay Area for many years before sharing his expertise with students at several colleges in Northern California. We all loved him, and he had a number of students go on to illustrious careers in the music and post-production fields.

Michelle Ryan

This class was where I met Michelle Ryan, who became a good friend and partner in crime in the early days of my own studio. Here is a picture of her with John Altmann and I at the main control room mixing board at SCC:

John Altmann, Michelle Ryan and I at Sacramento City College

One of the first projects Michelle & I worked on together, that was also assisted by Dan Kaake, was a recording of a song that my future brother-in-law, Tom Cuddeback was working on for the marriage ceremony of his sister Karen to my older brother Bill (or Pete as our family calls him). Tom is a San Franciscan, and drove over to Sacramento a few times so we could work it out together. Here was the result:

You Are The One

Since we are talking about Tom Cuddeback, I should mention he’s been a performing musician since he was young, and here are a couple of images of one of his later projects that I know he brainstormed over for a few years, and I was glad to see it materialize as he envisioned it:

++ ++ ++ ++ ++ ++ ++

The 7th Avenue studio was coming along quite nicely, as I decided to commit to the Tascam DA-88 as the Modular Digital Multitrack system we used, (utilizing HI-8 video tape as the recording medium, as opposed to the Alesis ADAT system, very popular at the time, which used VHS tapes), and Michelle and I each bought one, giving us 16 digital tracks, to which we synchronized an Otari 8 track analog reel-to-reel tape deck and MIDI sequencer (Digital Performer version 1.7 at the time, still currently using it at DP10 as of this writing…rock solid, usually) along with various other MIDI gear including keyboards and synthesizer modules.

MDM Studio 1 recording gear @ 7th Ave in Sacramento


Bhakti: K .E. Gipson, Jody Seidman and I

While we were getting the studio set up, I was also rehearsing a performing group, originally consisting of myself, Jody Seidman, a transplant from Queens, NY, who had recently decided to make her home in Sacramento, who played latin percussion and sang, and Kenny (or Ken E.) Gipson, on bass mainly, but who also played a wonderful acoustic guitar track on our first recording, “A Wave Of Love”

Cassette cover for “A Wave of Love”
Our mix of “A Wave of Love” for the unreleased album “Left At the Light”. This song is currently being enhanced and remastered and will appear on my next release “Forevernow”

Here is a poster from a show we played at Duke’s, just across from the original Tower Records store:

…and a few pics of Jody and I at the show. (Kenny was playing stage right, out of view for some reason)

Shortly after this show, Jody developed some serious Carpal tunnel syndrome pain and was unable to continue playing congas. We fell out of touch later, and Bhakti continued mainly as a recording project. I just recently became aware that Jody subsequently lost a ten-year battle with cancer and died on December 17, 2014. She was a beautiful and talented woman, and I feel very lucky to have known and worked with her.

Jody, your music lives on. RIP

++ ++ ++ ++ ++ ++ ++

T. Wilson’s Back!

Recording our own personal projects was the main perk in setting up the studio, but we needed to bring in clients to help pay for the equipment, so a good trial run with a professional artist would be just the thing to get our feet wet. I invited T. Wilson King out from South Dakota, and we recorded a full-length album project over the course of a few weeks in the late winter of 1995. I’m sure it was a nice escape from the South Dakota freeze. (I remember the first winter I spent in Sioux Falls years earlier, I stepped out to pick up the newspaper from my front porch, and as my eyes started to glaze over, I saw the day’s headline: “Wind chill factor hits 100 degrees below 0” !!!)

We all enjoyed working on the project, and “Big Tomato” was born. (Just as New York City is called “The Big Apple”, Sacramento has the nickname “Big Tomato”)

Correction: Michelle Ryan, – Technical Assistance

A few months later, his fans were happy to see the news and positive review of his freshly released self-produced album in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader:

BIO page 3 —>