MUSIC: Local Live—Bloomington Magical Musical Mojo

by Ryan Dawes

With a limitless broadcasting format, WFHB (FireHouse Broadcasting, FM 91.3, 98.1, 100.7, 106.3) becomes a busy crossroads for countless bands and musicians representing a daunting array of genres. Besides the thousands of albums mailed to the station from labels across the globe, WFHB also draws bands and musicians in the flesh, ready to perform live for listeners via in-studio or remote broadcasts. A select portion of this artistic traffic has been captured on a series of albums featuring local musicians performing at remote broadcasts at various recording studios in Monroe County. WFHB’s Local Live: Remote Broadcasts, Volume 3, is due out just in time for the station’s Spring Fund Drive.

WFHB’s downtown studios have hosted thousands of live broadcasts with touring and local bands alike, but this particular series of recordings features exclusively local artists performing at remote broadcasts transmitted from area recording studios including Russian Recording, Midwest Audio Recording, Farm Fresh Studios, and White Arc Studios. Given that each of the recording studios are inarguably of professional caliber, the audio quality is clearer and better mixed than what you would expect of a live recording elsewhere at a venue or club. In addition to each recording studio’s full time engineer, the remote broadcasts are supported by station music director Jim Manion and a seasoned squad of volunteer producers.

“All the studios offer different environments but the sound is consistently great at each one,” says Manion. “The talent pool of audio engineering in this town is insanely good.”
While you could find traditional recordings from most of the artists featured on the Local Live series, many of the tracks include songs unreleased elsewhere. Furthermore, as Manion explains, there are unforgettable qualities in the recordings that could only come from performing live, before an audience.

“The added value is the ineffable magic musical mojo that is present on the live songs we pick from the sets we archive. You could never find all these songs out there in the form they take on our CDs.”

Volume 3 is as diverse as the first two volumes, featuring old-time bluegrass by the Indiana Boys, blues from Gordon Bonham, Motown/garage-rock from The Vallures, psychedelic surf-rock from the Triptides and a more, amounting to 16 tracks in total.

The station gives away copies of the CDs as fund drive incentives to donors, but the intent behind these recordings is culturally much broader. Manion also sees this initiative as a means of historic preservation, marking trends and strengths in the local music scene at this point in time.

“I hope these recordings show that Bloomington has a high-quality and wide-ranging music community full of creative musicians and songwriters,” says Manion.

The Ryder, March 2013