If you are a fan of Mumford and Sons, you will be an even bigger fan of Black Horse Motel. They recently met their KickStarter goal and are now recording with Ron DiSilvestro of Forge Recording. In 2008, the Philadelphia-based Americana band Black Horse Motel has managed to conjure up a sound that speaks clearly to its versatility. Drawing on traditional Eastern and Western folk roots, classical training, and an affinity for unifying harmonies, this kindred troupe finds their voice through earthy songs, stories that recount poignantly the details of their inspiration. The foundation, the pages upon which these stories find life, is laid by a mélange of instruments (cello, banjo, guitar, viola/violin, percussion, mandolin, melodica) that render this quintet’s sound dexterous, accessible and mercurial.
In 2011, Black Horse Motel began to see the fruits of their doggedness come to bear, highlighted by a second place finish in the Music-a-live! Philly band competition hosted by the Legendary Dobb’s. Performing at many of Philadelphia’s top venues (North Star Bar, Dobb’s, World Cafe Live, The Fire), BHM started to demand the attention of casual fan and industry professional alike.
Look for their new album sometime in December!
World Cafe Live’s weekly Open Stage and progressive Talent Competition, hosted by Boy Wonder (a.k.a. Andre Coles) and Forge Recording’s Berto Munoz.
Monthly Prize Package includes:
- Recording session with producer Ron DiSilvestro at Forge Recording studios
– Editorial feature in That Mag
Annual Prize Package includes:
- Forge Recording package: 4-5 song EP (dependent on instrumentation)
– 50 copies of the EP for distribution
– 250 full-color artist posters
– One hour business-plan consultation with Marcy Wagman, CEO of Mad Dragon Records
– multi-camera live music video shoot by GGM Productions
Artists check in at 6:30pm to sign up for a 2-song performance slot. Slots are offered on a first-come basis. Performances begin at 7:00pm and usually end between 11:00 and midnight. Each performance is judged by a panel that includes someone from the WCL music department, the manager on duty and a representative from sponsors. There is usually also one featured performer each evening (not eligible to win) doing an extended set. Perfomance slots for artists using backing tracks are limited to 4 per week.
Each month, the four weekly winners from the previous month will be invited back on a Sunday evening to participate in The Best of Philly Rising, when each artist will have a chance to perform a full set. At each of these shows, the panel will select a single winning act to be awarded the monthly prize package.
At the end of the year, all monthly winners compete in the annual showcase on the main stage in Downstairs Live, and one winning act will receive the Annual Prize Package.
The Endless March, six local Philadelphia area musicians, were hand selected by 93.3 WMMR to form an All Star band. Jaxon’s Local Shots All Star band consists of ; Vahe Sarkissian on lead guitar, Rob Smith on bass, Christopher Bones on drums, Ryan Voelker on rhythm guitar, George Flayer on electric violin, they are soon to announce a new lead singer. The band just finished recording song one, “Beyond the Reaches,” of their 3 song EP at Forge Recording, under the production of Ron DiSilvestro. They have already opened up for major label acts; Godsmack, Shinedown, Slash with Myles Kennedy, Steel Panther, Halestorm, Pop Evil, Adelitas Way, and Foxy Shazam.
For those of you who don’t know about the whole Usic backstory – one of the founders (Mike) worked for many years at Guitar Center as a recording and pro audio guy. He used to sell home studios to people looking to record themselves. You might call him a bit of a gear-head, especially when it comes to microphones and preamps. So when Forge Recording of Philadelphia reached out to us and asked us to spotlight them, we jumped at the chance – for a bunch of good reasons.
Forge Recording is based out of the Ft. Washington Area, and between the practiced hands that work the knobs, faders, and microphones there, they’ve worked on over 300 artists in the past 3 years. Pretty impressive. Ron DiSilvestro is an engineer there, but he’s also been a touring musician, too, so he gets the challenges that modern musicians face. “My big advice to them, especially the ones starting out, is that if you’re picking up the guitar, also try the piano. Whatever your craft is, don’t just home in on one thing – make sure that you round yourself out.” Ron’s a well-rounded individual, to say the least. He’s recorded, performed, and taught music, engineering, and more.
Ron recognized that there are a lot of home studios listed on The Usic, and understands their place. “I realized that I needed to diversify what we do here.” That’s when they got creative – and collaborative. There are some things that home studios do well, and some things that they don’t do as well. Forge Recording’s room, listening space, and equipment represent the top-level of what’s available. That sets them apart from most home studios, but instead of keeping their competition out, they invited them in.
“We do Pro Tools classes here, and recording workshops in general. We do a good job of showing people how recording sessions should go, everything from mic placement, to talent management, to mixing. It’s broken up into five sessions where we develop aspiring recording engineers into people with the experience that they need to get good performances out of people and then capture that effectively.”
Forge Recording represents a bleeding-edge breed of recording facilities that not only seeks to serve the recording artist as a one-stop production shop, but also as a place that collaborates with those who just need certain elements of their offerings. Bands that are interested in recording there will get a chance to rehearse in their rooms and hear what the room sounds like ‘on tape’ before they do a real session. This gives them a chance to get acclimated to the space, and ensures that they give a good performance when it comes time to really record.
If Ron had his way, the studio and its main rooms would be open 24/7, so that bands, aspiring recording engineers, and songwriters could benefit from the space they’ve built. He looks at it as building, fostering, and nurturing a community, and we identify with that sentiment, to say the least. “No matter how good your home setup is, there are going to be holes in what you can do – whether it’s the room, your experience, or just something simple that you’re missing out on. We’d rather collaborate and create alliances with people who have home setups than try to keep them out, I figure we can help each other.”
Ron had some pretty simple advice for aspiring recording engineers:
“It all comes down to the performance. Your gear matters, but what matters more is spending time with your artist before you get them in the studio. Go to their shows, ask them questions, understand them. Find out how they want to be interpreted, then focus on capturing a good performance. Don’t track them too hot and don’t think that EQ is going to save you – try moving the mic before you reach for the EQ. Bottom line – get a great performer, put a mic in front of them, and get a great performance.”
Ron’s a welcome member of our community, and you can tell that he and everyone at Forge understand that their role as a pro-level recording facility is to not only do a great job by their artists, but also to demystify the process for others that are interested in recording technologies. Check out their Usic Page Here and don’t forget to check out our website, The Usic, or go here to create a free account, instantly. By the way, Like us on Facebook.
Ron DiSilvestro and Forge Recording are featured in the August 2012 digital edition of Music Connection Magazine.[btn_light target=”http://www.forgerecording.com/downloads/Music Connection Digital August 2012.pdf”]CLICK TO VIEW ARTICLE[/btn_light]
Ron DiSilvestro – Lead Engineer, producer, arranger, composer, professional drummer, and talent extraordinaire has placements on major radio and TV stations.
Ron has more than 30 years of playing experience, countless national tours and a session drumming discography in the hundreds. As a professional drummer turned producer/engineer, he has worked both sides of the glass with some of the biggest names in the business. Bands produced, recorded and mixed by Ron DiSilvestro are placed in rotation on major radio stations such as 93.3 WMMR, 94.1 WYSP, 88.5 WXPN and KROQ. His projects draw major and indie label interest.
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