Paul Loomis: World Famous in Bloomsburg
About the album…
Paul’s original goal was to have a product in hand by Thanksgiving 2014. Tracking began in March/April 2014 with initial drafts, then picked up again in late May and continued through October 2014, with a release on schedule just before Thanksgiving. Paul is a very prolific writer, and likes to let songs unfold on their own. Some songs that we recorded earlier in the process were later reworked once Paul heard them in context, and a few songs were dropped for possible use in a future project.
The whole time, Paul drove the overall direction and we just helped him achieve his goal given the timeline had in mind. We’d typically record on Fridays, do rough mixes on Saturday, then let Paul sit with the tracks for a week or so and built up from there. Traveling, family commitments and home/studio improvement projects made sure that we left plenty of space between sessions so we could have a renewed perspective each time we came back to the tracks.
Instrumentation includes acoustic guitar, banjo, xylophone, and harmonica by Paul. Collaborators include Paul’s daughter Anna Weber-Loomis (age 13, who sings and plays trombone) and son Zeke Weber-Loomis (age 8, who sings and plays the violin), as well as many other people familiar to those who follow the Bloomsburg music scene: Jeremy and Audra dePrisco lend their voices on several tracks, and Jeremy provides electric bass and string bass on many tracks. Mike Hickey sings and plays guitar and mandolin; John Huckans sings and plays tuba; Randy Moyer sings and plays guitar; Erin Dietrick plays violin; Safa Saracoglu plays percussion; and John Sweeney plays harmonica.
Production Philosophy – Jeremy notes: “Having heard Paul live, I really just wanted to capture the humor, sincerity, and honesty of Paul’s performance with as little studio trickery as possible. Having come from a folk background myself, and having an appreciation for Woody Guthrie and similar artists, I knew we had to just focus on the songs and lyrics. My goal throughout was to just serve the songs in the best way possible. I definitely found inspiration from the Woody at 100 Centennial Collection, which was part of my listening just before Paul’s project came along.”
“Most of the songs include Paul’s original vocal from the initial guitar/voice tracking session, and we just built up around that. Few of the additional players could be together at the same time, so we usually worked in groups of two or three max. There are no click tracks, and – save for one sampled bass clarinet part – everything else is played and generated by acoustic instruments. I was also sensitive to making this a dynamic recording, with an allowance for soft pieces, particularly the more sensitive “Sunday Morning”, of which there are two contrasting pieces. The brief humor piece “Yard Yard” includes some short wave noises captured by a small radio and portable recorder, and that was a lot of fun for me – and a great example of how Paul was accepting of ideas.”
“The only place where we took some creative liberty with the “no tricks” policy was the vocal intro on “Digali,” which is actually a copy of the last chorus. Originally the song started with banjo, but the more I heard that chorus, I knew it would work as a great opening. With some experimentation we agreed that getting that chorus in one additional time – as the intro – really pulled the listener in. Only problem was: all the singers were home, or scattered across the region by that point, and getting them together to sing one part was not feasible.”
““Whenever I hear it I can picture the fun we had in the studio, and the album is a document of that connection and that fun,” says Paul in his interview with The Weekender.
At 22 songs, “World Famous in Bloomsburg” is practically a double album, but many of the songs are quite short, and it goes by quickly. The songs cover topics as diverse as “Pickles in the Jar” and “It Looks Like Christmas Is Coming Again” – many humorous but also some more serious, including “Susquehanna (Here It Comes Again)”, inspired by the 2011 flood and winner of the 2011 PA Heritage Songwriting Festival. Even this topic – one that impacted many lives in devastating ways – is treated with just the right dose of humor.
Artwork came together with the help of Oren Helbok (Photoshop design) and Paul’s wife Leticia Weber created the felt artwork used on the cover. Altogether this was a very community-oriented project, and a great example of what we’re hoping to do more of here at Pepperhead Studios.
To hear samples from this album, visit Paul’s CD Baby page.
Paul’s web site is: paulloomis.com