Category Archives: Stories

Anne Weiss CD release

The mastering (final polish) for Anne Weiss’s new CD, “Concrete World and the Lover’s Dream”, was expertly done at Nick Moon’s new Tone Proper Mastering, and it sounds great!

Nick Moon and Big Red’s Billy Oskay were happy to attend Anne Weiss’s CD release concert, performed to a sold out audience April 26th at Portland’s Clinton Street Theater. She gathered almost all the musicians who played on her project and it was wonderful to hear the arrangements (carefully brought to focus in the studio) come alive!

Check out Anne’s website at:

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Tom May and Blue Roads Red Wine CD

Tom May worked over the Winter with Billy Oskay at Big Red, recording, mixing and mastering his 13th CD (second at Big Red): “Blue Roads Red Wine.”
We usually do not profile artists who record at Big Red, but singer-songwriter Tom May is such an amazing human being that we felt compelled here to tell a bit about him.
Tom May, in addition to being a fine musician, is a radio personality, a writer, and a concert promoter. He is a gracious, caring person who treats all he meets with warmth and humor.
For over 20 years Tom has hosted the radio show “River City Folk” which is broadcast weekly to over 200 stations on the WFMT Fine Arts Radio Network.
Tom also created and promoted Winterfolk, one of the Northwest’s premier concerts that each year brings together some of the finest musicians from the folk tradition to raise money to support “Sisters of the Road Cafe.” Sisters of the Road Cafe

Tom May (center) singing with Peter Yarrow at the conclusion of 20th Annual Winterfolk concert on Feb. 2, 2008

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Big Red’s TSM Console: a history

Big Red’s Trident TSM (40 input, 32 monitor, 24 bus) was hand built in England and first belonged to Jose Feliciano.
Shortly thereafter it became the centerpiece for San Francisco’s legendary recording studio: The Automatt.

With David Rubinson, Fred Catero and the gang , it was used on countless Gold and Platinum records including those by Santana, Herbie Hancock, The Pointer Sisters, Journey, Con Funk Shun, Jefferson Starship, Sister Sledge and many more. Later, it migrated a few miles north to Tarpan Studios where Narada Michael Walden made hit after hit (Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey et al.) on it. The sound is big, warm and very analog. It was meticulously maintained by Doc Shaffer in the bay area and was commissioned at Big Red Studio May, 2000.
It is now maintained by Alan Garren Waltzing Bear Audio

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Jarrod Kaplan performing with Cirque de Soleil!

Percussion wizard Jarrod Kaplan

About 12 years ago I was at the Oregon Country Fair where I play violin with a crazy modern vaudeville troop every July. From a distance, (the fair is set on 200 acres of forests, paths and meadows), I heard the sound of a drum.

I followed the sound about 20 minutes to its source and found Jarrod Kaplan playing his Djembe with a unique and melodic style. I introduced myself and and we fast became friends. Jarrod soon after found a wonderful Senegalese Djembe for me, ever since a fixture at Big Red. And Jarrod became a regular session player, providing great sounds and playing on many of my productions. For each session, Jarrod would bring a van full of percussion instruments and would set up a “kit” consisting of a Djembe, 2 dumbeks, shakers and bells on his ankles, splash cymbals, bell trees and a large orchestral bass drum.

What a sound!

Jarrod began his creative life early, as a childhood actor in New York. He was in the cast of “The Guiding Light” soap opera and appeared in numerous commercials. He left acting and went to music school. Since moving to the west coast, Jarrod founded and toured extensively with Trillian Green, Hanuman and Taarka, three distinct and well-known high energy jam bands. It was great co-producing 3 CDs for the latter two.

Anyway, Jarrod auditioned for and received a call to be a member of the band for a new production of Cirque de Soleil. He left Oregon this New Years Day for two months of rehearsals in Montreal to be followed by two years of world tours.

I am happy for Jarrod’s deserved success and look forward to seeing him when Cirque de Soleil comes through Oregon.

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Dan Crary and Primal Twang

September, 2006

Guitar wizard and longtime Big Red client Dan Crary has really done it this time with his San Diego world premiere of “Primal Twang”: The Legacy of the Guitar — the first definitive theatrical journey through the guitar’s colorful and surprisingly controversial 3500-year history.

The show was filmed for a TV special and a DVD… with five cameras and 80 tracks of Protools! I attended the show and was blown away hearing sixteen of the world’s greatest living guitarists in a 4 hour concert that felt like 5 minutes. Big Red Studio clients Beppe Gambetta, Mason Williams, and John Doan were also in the show and visiting with them and meeting Eric Johnson, Albert Lee, Doc Watson and others l at the cast party was a real treat. Read more about it at:

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Klaus Heyne: Big Red Microphone Guru

Klaus Heyne (German Masterworks) restores, modifies, customizes and designs high-end microphones for top artists, producers and engineers in the recording and film industry throughout the world. (Neil Young, Natalie Cole, Phil Collins & Usher among many others). He has been a close friend and a big influence in the life of Big Red Studio.

Klaus modified Neumann, Telefunken and AKG microphones as well as the Brauner VM1 KHE (Klaus Heyne Edition) have been used on many Big Red projects and I and my clients prize their warmth, detail and resolution.

Klaus hosts a high-end microphone forum at: Klaus Heyne Pro Mic Forum

I met Klaus 15 years ago and I enjoy telling the strange string of coincidences that led to our first meeting.

I had just finished a recording for Windham Hill at my old Nightnoise Studio in Portland. I had rented some high-end processors from Steve Jarvis Rentals in San Francisco. Steve included a list of the equipment that he rented and I noticed that most of the expensive microphones on the list stated that they were modified by Klaus Heyne. Curious what that meant, I called Steve and asked. He said briefly that Klaus made the garden variety of Neumanns and AKGs sound amazing. Since I had a couple Neumanns already, my interest was piqued so I asked Steve how I could reach Klaus. Steve said, “Klaus is in San Francisco… wait,…no,… he just moved. Let me look…Oh yeah, he just moved to Oregon.” So Steve gave me Klaus’s number and I recognized it as a Corbett Oregon telephone prefix. I had many friends in Corbett and was looking for property there.

So I gave Klaus a call. He gave me a short synopsis on how microphones like the Neumann U87 have wonderful capsules, but being made for many applications, have extra circuitry that convoluted the sound. He said that without going into details, he meticulously cleaned the capsules, upgraded components, streamlined the circuitry and hand tuned the microphones for intended applications.

Near the end of our conversation, I asked him where he lived and he told me. I told him that by coincidence I had looked at his house with a real estate agent before it was his house . I told him that I also knew many friends near him and, since he was new to the area, that I would like to introduce him to his neighbors. I also mentioned that I had a small airplane, flew often, and would be happy to take him up flying over the nearby Columbia River Gorge, and over his house.

His response was a question: “Billy, do you, as a pilot, know how to find and report a plane that has been flying dangerously low and loud over my property? Carolyn [Klaus's girlfriend] and I moved to the country from the Bay area so we could get away from the noise; to enjoy nature …not to have an obnoxious plane swooping overhead when we might be sunbathing in the nude.”

I thought….uh oh. For the plane he was referring to was mine… and I was the pilot! I didn’t know how he would take it, and knew it would take some fast explaining, but I took the chance and ‘fessed up: It went something like this: “Klaus, I think I can help you. You see, my best friend in your area (Dennis) lives on a 1300′ high extinct volcano knoll about 1/2 mile north of you. There are three children living on the property.” “Often, before I fly my plane, I make a little parachute and tie either a small stuffed animal or candy or a trinket to it. I take off from the airport 8 miles away, make a flyover Dennis’s house and then glide low over his meadow to drop the parachutes to the kids. They love hearing my plane, and when they do, they run out to the meadow to try to catch the parachutes. It’s great fun.” “But,… after gliding so low, I have to gun it full throttle to gain altitude quickly. And, uh… that just happens to be just about over your property. So, I think you just found your pilot. (pause) Are you going to report me?” I don’t know if Klaus knew what to think. But there was reserved quiet on the other end of the line. Klaus thanked me for calling and said that he would accept my offer of an introduction to his neighbors, including Dennis.

The following week I was rehearsing with my band Nightnoise and with (Windham Hill artists from the Bay area), Phil Aaberg and Barbara Higbe. We were getting ready for a 30 city US tour. After rehearsal and amidst conversation over a meal, I just happened to tell about my unusual conversation with Klaus Heyne. At that point, Barbara Higbe started giggling. I asked her why? She said that Klaus was her estranged husband’s best friend in the Bay Area and that she didn’t even know that Klaus had left the area! Well that did it for me. I called Klaus and arranged for him to meet Dennis and me for dinner the next night at famous Tad’s Chicken n’ Dumplin Restaurant on the Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway. And I showed up that next night with Klaus’s best friend’s wife! That was our first meeting and we have been friends ever since.


Soon after our meeting and prior to going flying, I called Klaus. I asked if he would like to go flying. He said that he could not, but that he needed something. He asked if I would parachute a copy of the morning newspaper to him? I said sure, and made a special parachute for the drop. Gliding over his house at about 80 MPH and just before releasing the parachute, I glanced down. Atop the roof of his house there was Klaus, stark naked and waving wildly.

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Life Connections: Big Red and the story of Travis John

Singer/songwriter Duo Kate Power and Steve Einhorns’ neighbor, Travis John Bradach-Nall , was one of the first Oregonians to die in the Iraq war. This inspired a song and the story of it’s creation and recording at Big Red Studio speaks of our circle of life connections.

Kate Power and Steve Einhorn

Kate and Steve won the grand prize at the “Music to Life” Songwriting Contest at the Kerrville Folk Festival for the song “Travis John”!

The song speaks to the grief of war and the heroic idealism of America’s youth. Travis John Bradach-Nall was one of the first Oregonians killed in Iraq (July 2, 2003). “Travis John” captured the attention of local media, who responded with newspaper articles and radio airplay. A special feature on Oregon Public Television told the story of the song, the boy, and the studio where it all came together: “Travis John” was unknowingly recorded in the studio that was built by the boy the song was written for.

The Story of “Travis John”

“I was sitting outside our workshop cabin on the last day of summer at Fishtrap, a writers retreat on Lake Wallowa, picking a gentle riff on my little banjo when a doe and her yearling walked slowly by me. News of the memorial of our neighbor, Travis John Bradach-Nall, was on the front page of the Oregonian that morning and the waves of shock and sadness were rolling beneath my skin. The song stayed with me until it was finished. It was very simple, a folksong. Steve and I played it in tribute to Travis and his family that night at the open mic in the main lodge. It was the rough cut, first sung version but the words and melody were all there. The next morning, we received such a fierce and tender response from so many of the writers that we felt compelled to take “Travis John” further out in the world.

Two weeks later, Steve and I recorded this song to lead a small collection of songs we’ve sung over the years and recorded on various albums. We recorded “Travis John” at Big Red Studio on August 3, 2003. We wanted it on record to send to radio stations and homes all around the country. We spent a day recording it, Steve and me with Billy Oskay, the engineer, at the board.

The next time we saw Billy he had a “spooky” story to tell us. Word had gone out about Travis’ song and Travis’ uncle Frank called Billy to remind him that Travis had been on his crew and had actually helped him build “Big Red Studio” a few short years ago. Travis John’s uncle was the foreman who built Billy’s studio. Billy was stunned. He remembered Travis well; hammer in hand and a grin on his face. He was a good worker. Suddenly, more pieces came together, our communion with this song grew in another way we couldn’t have predicted. Coming full circle we manifested his song in the studio Travis had helped to build.

We hope that by releasing Travis John’s song into the world, he will be remembered, for the difference he made, for the ones he loved and left behind, as well as the rest of us stangers who have come to know him in the wake of his young life.”

-Kate Power

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