The latest unique news headline out of the music community is that the co-founder of a nationally-touring, genre busting bluegrass act delivers his first solo recording in the style of surf rock. Dave Bruzza, known for two decades of work as guitarist, vocalist and songwriting of Greensky Bluegrass, today offers up Heart of Santa Cruz in the form of a 45 rpm on vinyl.
Catalyzed, created and crafted to tape out of the quarantine era within the pandemic; time away from bandmates ultimately proved a new kind of fruitful with the delivery of the tracks .
Going back to the basics of how recorded sounds begin, Dave ultimately enabled musical experiments and the education of recording process and time-honored techniques into his career’s debut solo release.
Bruzza waxes philosophical on the inspiration and story that ends with two songs, Heart of Santa Cruz and the B side Pearl Street Lounge:
“As we all know, in 2020, things stopped. Being a touring musician I was grounded for the first time in my adult life. Unable to perform for people in person I had to adapt and figure out new ways to play for the people. I made videos and went live on social media and was feeling creative. One side of my job has been recording music. I was never very good at doing that on my own so faced with endless time away from my bandmates and friends, I decided to get some gear and start to really understand the process. Having made records in the past I had a basic knowledge of what that would take. I asked a lot of questions to friends with knowledge of how this worked. The best advice I received was “Recording software is like a car. You know it has lights, wipers, and a turn signal - you just have to dig around and see where it is.” Thanks Ian!
As an exercise on how to use the software, I began to create music on my own. Playing whatever and messing around with the gear. At the time I was listening to a lot of old rock n roll. Particularly instrumental surf rock. The Ventures, The Lively Ones, Dick Dale and the like. So naturally I started playing that style and recorded it. I was fascinated by the reverb and simple force of the music, so I asked myself “Why does it sound like that? How did they go about recording this” After some research I read how they would place microphones to capture the songs and started conducting my own experiments in my apartment in Denver. That just opened the door for me, and I was making new songs everyday! Playing all the instruments overdubbing part by part was a great learning process for me and just a hell of a lot of fun. A bit of light in some dark times, and I was feeling it and started to compose my own take on that kind of music and capture it to sound as the vintage recordings did.
The whole process was so fulfilling that I had all these songs with one problem, what do I do with this? I decided to pick two of the songs and go the distance with them and release them in an appropriate format, a 45rpm record. This format makes the most sense for these two songs. Just like the ones kids would buy in the early 60’s but with a modern flare to it. The subtle crackle of the finished product just adds to the recordings and complements the music in such a way that wouldn’t be heard or felt digitally, it is the best way to hear and experience these songs.
From this point I reached out to my old friend Ian Gorman who owns La Luna Recording and Sound in Kalamazoo MI. Together we mixed the songs, remotely, and gave the music the sparkle and feel of musicians playing together in a room. We had a great time working on the songs and Ian really helped me put these together the way they should sound. From there I asked the help of my friend Anna Frick here in Colorado. She is an extremely talented engineer with a lot of experience with mastering and cutting vinyl records and she helped me understand the process. After months of waiting the test pressings arrived and I went to meet Anna in the studio to hear the cuts, and that was such a magic feeling! I have never made a solo record before; I have always worked in groups, so this was a special moment in my life as a musician. I have always wanted to make a record by myself, it was just something that always had been intriguing to me being a multi-instrumentalist. And I never thought in a million years that it would be surf rock music! So here it is, my first solo release Heart of Santa Cruz. Written, performed, and recorded by me.”