World Famous in Bloomsburg by Paul Loomis
By Jeremy dePrisco at shivasongster.com.
“World Famous in Bloomsburg” is Paul Loomis‘ third solo album, and the first full length project to be produced at Pepperhead Studios (Millville, PA). You can listen to samples here.
Go here for original article.
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
“World Famous in Bloomsburg” finds success
By Mark Uricheck for Weekender
December 7, 2014
(Go here for the original review.)
“A lot of my family’s history is in these songs,” begins Paul Loomis, regarding his latest solo recording, “World Famous in Bloomsburg.” “We’ve sung (or made up) some of these all over South America. And, I love that so many friends (and my kids, Anna and Zeke) are on this album, playing and sometimes singing.
“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.”
Loomis, who is a professor of mathematics at Bloomsburg University, recently held a CD release party at that city’s Moose Antler Exchange for his latest concoction of witty folk, topical social commentary, and instrumental eccentricity – his third original album. Loomis likes to think of this sonic stew as all-inclusive, not being subject to sub-genre scrutiny.
“I define folk music broadly, so that even if there are elements that feel like bluegrass or punk or country (or all three), it’s still folk music,” he says. “I would call a few of these pop songs, but they’re recorded acoustic, so they sound more folky. We have one (“Digali”) that’s kind of a sing-along, but it goes into this Middle-Eastern banjo/tuba/percussion bit in the middle. It’s all music that people would sit around and play with each other, with a focus on fun and community more than commercial success, so I think it’s all folk music.”
The music on “World Famous in Bloomsburg”is a long time coming, with listeners nudging Loomis to release the songs he’d been performing in a live setting since his last record.
“I’ve been playing many of these songs live for years – my last album came out in 2009,” he says. “It got to the point where people would say ‘Hey! I like that song! Is it on a CD?’ I’d have to say not yet…so it was time to record another album. Jeremy (dePrisco, who recorded and produced) and I started in March, with first drafts of songs. We kept going through August or September, and the mixing took us into October.”
Loomis’ knack for crafting a biting piece of no-nonsense narrative began when he first picked up a guitar 22 years ago. He says he was always more interested in writing his own songs as opposed to focusing on technical proficiency or cover material.
“I listened to punk when I was younger, and a lot of folk since,” he notes. “Partly because of that, what I do is still pretty simple. My kids play trombone and violin, though, and we started playing together for fun. And, I have friends who play bass, or tuba, or mandolin, or interesting drums, and I think ‘I want to play with so-and-so…’ So we try it, and figure out what sounds good and what doesn’t.”
For Loomis, his music seems to be not only therapeutic, but even visionary – in the sense that it’s led him to where he wants to be.
“There’s a song on my first album called ‘Something Good’ that starts out, ‘Woke this morning with the feeling that something good would come,’” he explains. “I wrote that song about 20 years ago during a rough time, but somehow those words came out of me one day when I was playing. So writing that song helped me see around the corner to where things could get better. I think music has a way of helping us through tough times, either by giving us the idea that it can get better, or reminding us that other people have troubles too.”
Loomis is happy that his musical and professional lives can intersect, as well. He seems common ground in both sides of what he does.
“I’m a mathematician, and a teacher of mathematics,” he says. “Both math and music require, at the basic level, a set of technical skills. At a deeper level, though, they both become more about creativity. And, while performing is entertainment and teaching is education, there are things that are common – things about rapport with a class or an audience, about having a crowd with you, so that even if your next song (or lecture) is a little more difficult to get into, they are willing to stick around.”
Foremost, Loomis wishes the listener a sense of enjoyment from his music. Secondary, perhaps, would be a little inspiration.
“I think it’s a fun album,” he says in closing. “Still, maybe it will make people think about a few things in a way they haven’t before.
“My ideal world has lots of people listening to music together as they do things – cooking, eating, washing dishes, playing games, travelling. Even better, it has people playing music together, just for fun. This album is like a soundtrack to that ideal world.”
Mark is a Northeast Pennsylvania-based music journalist who’s enjoyed interviewing legends like members of Iron Maiden, The E-Street Band, and Hall & Oates, right down to the garage band next door – intrigued by a great musical story on any level.