Certain acts have a knack for combining classic elements to form a unique sound. This fusion of jazz, blues, roots and country is Americana at its purest sonic form, and around Rhode Island very few acts pull it off as seamlessly as Evening Sky. The Providence-based instrumental quartet of guitarist Gino Rosati, bassist Joe Potenza, drummer Eric Hastings and Chris Brooks on pedal steel has a rhythmic and smooth approach. This is evident in their new album, “One Mic, Two Weekends,” that came out on April 30. The title comes from the sessions the band did to create the record, with one session taking place in March of last year before COVID-19 shut everything down and the other happening a few weeks later during the last weekend of April in socially distanced and masked fashion.
It was all recorded at Hastings’ studio, The Grapevine, which is located in Providence, along with Geoff Hazelrigg handling the mastering at Collective Acoustics Lab in Chalfont, Pennsylvania. The process was done in an “old school” way, with each musician and their amps set in the same room around a singular stereo ribbon microphone.
“It took us a while to get comfortable recording this way,” Rosati said about the process. “Normally in the studio you can fix little mistakes, re-record parts or just mute bad notes.”
“Each one of us had a few instances of being ‘that guy,’ whose wrong note or missed cue ruined a good take,” Brooks adds. “As we gradually settled into really being in the moment, there was a sense of elation when we really nailed a take.”
This peculiar way of recording meant that there were no overdubs, no punching in, no editing and no mixing done after the initial session. The only modern inclusion in the process was that the sessions were captured by using Direct Stream Digital, a high-resolution audiophile format with a distinct quality that gives the listener a feeling of being in the room with the musicians.
“We might move an amp forward or tilt it ever so slightly or adjust its tone,” Potenza points out. “Often, we moved the microphone a few inches closer to or farther from the drums, depending on the dynamics of each song. The whole idea of mixing yourself and focusing on getting one great take and performance, while daunting at first, really benefited us in the long term. I feel we are all better musicians and tighter as a band because of this recording experience.”
Highlights within the eight-track album include “Snake Oil,” which mirrors that Chicago electric blues style that has both Rosati and Brooks standing out while playing their respective instruments; and “Slip n’ Slide,” which gets a bit funky, with Hastings forming the groove with his beats and fills on the kit. This track is a bit reminiscent of The Meters, with that New Orleans tinge appearing in various instances. Lastly, with a waltzy vibe, “The Hope Street Shuffle” is the type of song that rolls along while exuding a chill, sly tone.
To check out some of the tunes off the new album live, go see Evening Sky perform on the front lawn of Pump House Music Works on 1464 Kingstown Road in Wakefield tomorrow evening with the Tom White Trio. The band also has some more recordings on the way, with another instrumental album already getting the finishing touches as well as two EPs with two different vocalists due out in the future. It seems like this quartet is about to embark on a busy second half of 2021. In the meantime, give One Mic, Two Weekends a listen via Bandcamp at eveningsky.bandcamp.com. It’s the kind of music that keeps it simple while making an effort to be complex.