Audio mastering legend Bob Ludwig to put finishing touches on The Black Sky Sequined

You may not recognize the name Bob Ludwig right off the bat.

But chances are if you were to pull out a handful of major label releases from your CD/vinyl collection his name would be somewhere in the credits on more than half of them.

A quick look at Bob’s catalog will find more than 3,000 credits dating back to 1962. It includes such legendary and diverse artists ranging from The Rolling Stones, Steve Reich, all of Nonesuch Recordings classical catalog, Bryan Ferry, Lou Reed, Paul McCartney, Suzanne Vega, Mariah Carrey, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Phish, Daft Punk (which won him one of four Grammys last year) . . . and after Monday, November 24, I am proud to say that Colorway will be able to include his name in the liner notes as well.


Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images North America


What is mastering?

Good question.

Mastering is the final stage a recording goes through before pressing. The mastering technician’s job is to make sure that all the songs (and the sounds contained in them) are at equal levels and the equalization is exactly where it should be so that the final, or “master”, version of the album can be duplicated with the utmost precision. It is also done to ensure that it can be played back on any method (CD player, iPhone, turntable) achieving the same results. It takes great skill, patience, and specialized audio gear to achieve the perfect final product. And while there are many local and even regional people who are qualified to take up this task I felt that this album deserved the best ears in the business.

That’s why I called Gateway Mastering in Portland, Maine and arranged for the all-day session, which I am planning on being present for.

I’ve also been dreaming of this to become a reality since I first read his name in the liner notes of The Stones Their Satanic Majesty’s Request. And then I kept seeing his name over, and over, and over again. He became part of my musical upbringing. He became a constant. He was there so many times as I cracked open a new album and put it on the turntable and read down past the member’s of The Who or Rush or even John Mellencamp’s names and got to the recording part–the part that meant so much to me as a kid always wanting to make my own record.

More often than not Bob Ludwig’s name was in there somewhere.

A little history compiled from a brief internet search:

For the last forty years Grammy award winning mastering engineer, Bob has had a hand in the making of some of the greatest records of our time. During his time as vice president of Sterling sound in New Hampshire in the 1960s and 1970s his work included Led Zeppelin II, Houses of the Holy, Jimi Hendrix and several of The Band’s most famous albums.

After seven years at Sterling Bob moved on to NYC’s Masterdisk Corporation where, as vice president and chief engineer, he worked on albums from artists such as U2, Phil Collins, Sting, The Police, Bryan Adams, Barbra Streisand etc.

In 1993 Bob left Masterdisk and opened his own studio, Gateway Mastering, in Portland, Maine to be more in control of his own gear and design the listening and working rooms that he wanted. It also has an outdoor swimming pool that I’m guessing is closed for the season. 🙂

I could go on and on at how excited I am for this to finally become a reality in my life. But I am going to stop here and just say that I firmly believe that The Black Sky Sequined (engineered and recorded by Mark Alan Miller at Sonelab in Easthampton, MA) is an album worthy of the attention and care that I’m certain Bob Ludwig will give to it.

This album is me.

It is my present, past and future.

It was made with love and patience and with the people I feel best brought my vision to life.

And if anybody is going to tie a big red bow on it and call it “done” I think Bob Ludwig is the man to do it.

The Black Sky Sequined won’t be released until the coming spring, which will give me time for promotion and preparation. I realize that’s a long time from now (especially with multiple feet of snow in certain parts of the region) but I can assure you it will be worth the wait.

Thanks for hanging tight with me.

And on we go . . .


~Alex J




Recording update, new tour dates, local shows and more.

Hi all,

Wanted to give you an update on what’s been going on as of late.


The three of us–me, Dave and JJ–went back into Sonelab on October 20 and spent the week and weekend putting down the music to ten songs that will be our next album, titled, The Black Sky Sequined.

We’re working with esteemed engineer, Mark Alan Miller again. I’ve worked with Mark on many projects over the past twenty years, including Soup’s very first cassette! That would be, of course, Mountain Funk (1993) which we recorded at Wendell Recording Studio. Soup was me, Terry Flood, J Scott “Bow Bow” Brandon, Steve Sanderson, and Paul Reynolds. Paul would eventually leave Soup; Soup would eventually become Drunk Stuntmen and the rest, as they say, is history.

Mark was in an industrial band back in the 90s called Vein Cage. I worked with the bands frontman, Pater Disparia (a/k/a Peter Dinardi), and he gave me this shirt c 1994. It is a happy tradition that I wear this now-oversized and holey shirt on the first day of recordings. And so it goes.


But it was great to pack up the Forester and head over to Easthampton.


The studio is a nice size and it being an old mill gives me a sense of place, being a boy from “Spindle City” or Fall River, Mass.IMG_6087

And on this rug would soon be one JJ O’Connell, sick as a dog but here nonetheless to make music. IMG_6111

And Dave would set up, too, of course. But I have no pictures to prove it. You’ll just have to believe me.


And I would get my little room to make a mess in.


Tom Adams was around to document the first day of recording. IMG_6201

We blasted through nine of the ten tunes on the very first day.


And then tackled the last tune, “The Cycle” on Tuesday.


It’s interesting to note how different things felt for this session. Because when we recorded our first album the band hadn’t even played a proper gig. So now, 18 months, ten new songs and lots of gigs later it really feels like a “band” and not just a project. So the sounds came together with a little more confidence and the arrangements were a little less impromptu. Not to say they don’t have the same spirit as the first album. It’s just a natural progression. And working with Mark was and is a breeze as always.


Scarves were worn.IMG_6450

Amps I have never-in-a-million-years-heard-of were used.


And lots of great tracks were laid down. Here’s me with my trusty Hahn 228.IMG_6514

Here’s just a taste of one of the songs, “Telephone” from the sessions:

And so we tracked on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. On Saturday we rested.

And then, on Sunday, we brought in Tom Mahnken, Nick Borges, Terry Nagel, and Dave Trenholm to put horns on “Telephone.” Dave composed a fantastic score for the horn players. He is also responsible for the string score on “Temporary Occupation” from the first album.


IMG_6779 L1040873From l-r: Terry, Nick, Dave, and Tom.


And I never want to forget who I’m doing this for.


This is my mom. And she is the person responsible for the title of the upcoming album. It come from a poem she wrote that I included in the liner notes on the first album:

Then it began
Rockets. Stars. Flowers blooming
The black sky sequined
Reds, yellows, blues, greens.
Silver and gold.
Fireworks and the cheers of spectators.

So I do it for me. I do it for Jodi. I do it for you, the fans. But most of all, I do it for Judy.

Miss you, Mom. Always.

So we finished up the week and gave ourselves some time to digest the mixes.

Tomorrow (Monday) I’m going back in to sing for a couple of days. Dave and JJ will come in to do backup vocals and some percussion. And we hope to be mixing by Wednesday or Thursday.

This is going to be a much different album than the first one. It’s a more cohesive work. It has a bit more direction. It’s got more energy, more confidence and more stamina.

I really think you’re all going to like it. We shall see.

The release date for The Black Sky Sequined is Tuesday, May 5, 2015.

You can mark Thursday, May 14 at 8:30pm (would be my mom’s 74th birthday) for our album release at the Iron Horse Music Hall. We will have CDs and vinyl copies available. I promise.

Speaking of New Gigs!

That’s right. We have some new gigs added to our tour dates page.

Friday, December 12 we will be playing at The Basement in Northampton. This is a free show (tips are appreciated, so save a fiver) and an early one. Starts at 8pm and we’ll be doing two sets. The first set will be most of the debut album and a couple of Stuntmen tunes. The second set will be the whole new album in its entirety. Should be a fun show. Here’s the Facebook event. Please sign up if you think you can make it.

We’re thrilled to be part of Northamtpon’s First Night festivities for the very first time. We will be playing in the beautiful 400 cushioned seat Theater 14 at the Mendenhall Center for the Performing Arts on Green Street at Smith College. Here’s all the info on the performances to plan your night.


Of course our first Boston area gig is still on for Saturday, November 22 at Cambridge’s Cantab Lounge (downstairs at Club Bohemia). And why not give you a Facebook event page for that, too? And you know that guy, Paul Reynolds I mentioned a while back? The old drummer for Soup? Well, his band Mercury on Mars is playing that night. So be sure to get there early. They go on at 10pm. And plan to stay late as we go on at midnight.

We just crested 500 likes on Facebook, as well. This is a big milestone for us and, as a new band, couldn’t be happier. If you’re not already a fan on FB why not head over and like us? Here’s the link.

So there you go, gang. Lots of great stuff going on. Including working with our old pals, Pietro Spica and Laura Nugent for the artwork.

We should have a new video up in a day or two from our last gig at Luthier’s Co-op. Stay tuned for that.

As you can see, lots of great things are happening. So glad you all chose to be part of it.

As Frank once said, music is the best.

And so it is.

And on we go.