Focusing on music…

I’ll be honest, when Pepperhead Studios officially opened in 2013, that was probably the worst time to launch a studio. I say that for a number of reasons. The overhead of a physical location makes any small business risky. Add to that something as specialized as music recording – a niche market for sure – and you have a recipe for uncertainty at best, particularly in a low-population zone like Central PA.

Another major factor is that recording technology has become so powerful, so cheap and so ubiquitous, that many people really can create quite good recordings at home without much more than a laptop (or iPad) and a couple of USB mics. People do it all the time. For many people, that’s enough. Even though it’s best to work with someone who knows the ins and outs of mic placement, gain structure, and song arranging, novices can still get their ideas out there in a very effective way. More power to them!

On the other end of the spectrum, there will always be large studios – with all of the tremendously expensive gear (vintage or otherwise). They can charge a premium for their services. Whether it’s $3000 mics or specially treated rooms with 100% separation, these facilities certainly have a place and are an important part of the fabric of modern recording. If you have the bank roll for a high-end studio, more power to you!

At Pepperhead, we take a different approach. We know we’re in the middle. We know that you might go elsewhere for lots of reasons, or you might opt to do it yourself. But our clients join us, and stay with us, because we offer something different.

For starters, we don’t get caught up in music industry hype. We’re not distracted by all of the flashy stuff to comes out of NAMM every year. More is not always better. We don’t entertain the “analog vs digital” argument because in the right hands, both work well. In the wrong hands, both can be a disaster.

We work with you to make the best possible product given a no-nonsense approach that keeps the project grounded in what matters: the music. We use tried and true mic techniques. We use the knowledge of our rooms and awareness of what can be achieved at a fraction of the cost of larger studios. That means live recording, with people listening to each other in the room… no auto-tune, and we don’t waste time with 25 takes when three will do.

At Pepperhead Studios, we want to cultivate a relationship. You’re joining a family when you come to us, and we would like that relationship to last and grow, just like those namesake peppers!

Mini Make Faire 2017

Join us for a wonderful day of activities for all ages at the Bloomsburg Mini Maker Faire!

On Sat April 22th, Pepperhead Studios will present area artists performing original, homegrown music, including Mike Hickey, Duane Dulk, Fricknadorable and The Ed Zuber Project. Urie Kline from Lyco Taiko will also give a drum demonstration.

Admission this year is FREE! pepper_maker_ALL2017

10:00 – 11:00      Lyco Taiko

11:00 – 11:30      Duane Dulk (solo acoustic)

11:30 – 12:00      Fricknadorable – Americana

12:00 – 1:00       Electro gadget demo / break

1:00 – 2:00        Mike Hickey – Blues-Rock

2:00 – 3:00        Ed Zuber Project – Rock

3:00 – 4:00        TBD

Directions, parking info and more can be found on the maker site, or their Facebook page.

Event location is Bloomsburg Children’s Museum

Laments for Henry Davis

In March 2017, Pepperhead Studios was taken over by the Henry Davis team to produce Laments for Henry Davis. Barry J Davis, lyricist and singer came to me with a self-described concept album that sounded perfect for my live recording approach, and interest in sonic experimentation.

What’s the subject matter? Without revealing too much, if you take experience from working as a blackjack dealer and toss it in a blender with the story of the Molly Maguires, add to taste some honeybees, reflections on family, and what’s important in life… then you might be close to a recipe for this alt-rock project.


Barry’s cousin, John Henry (guitar) came up from Florida in early March to put down basic tracks. Barry needed a bass player, but rather than split my attention between producing/engineering and performing, I suggested we get Kurt Smith.


Kurt had already been playing with Dave Eisenhower (drums) in his group Shades of Charon, so it wasn’t long before we had a rhythm section that was locked in to Barry’s vision. Dave is a top, in-demand drummer in our area, so I was excited to learn he was on board. We worked together on my last solo project, Chaos Rise Up.


Supporting players (so far) include multi-instrumentalist Terry Wright, who did some work with our studio on the one-off track Wolves & Women in 2015. Terry has been a fixture of the Susquehanna Valley music scene for decades, known for his long association with the popular variety band Covert Action.


After basic tracks, we worked throughout March and early April to create rough mixes, add overdubs, and refine our approach. Barry has some big plans for this project, including a full stage show (with costumes) that will tour the NE and Central PA later this year. Tentative release timeline is Fall 2017.


(Photos by Scott Canouse)

Negodniki Jazz Ensemble

Mike Hickey (guitar) and John Huckans (keys) work out an arrangement during rehearsal with the Negodniki jazz ensemble. (Photo by Jeremy)
Usually comprised of Safa Saracoglu (percussion) and Jeremy dePrisco (bass), Negodniki is happy to add Urie Kline on drums for a special benefit performance at the Greenwood Friends School auction at The Silver Moon Banquet Hall in Lewisburg on Saturday April 8 – 6:00pm to 10:00pm. Photo by (Scott Canouse)

Becky Blue Demo

Becky Blue (Rebekah Taffera) recorded a two-song demo with us in September 2016. “You and Me” is a blues, while “B Side” is a rock number. Both songs are original compositions, recorded live.


Becky Blue: Vocals
Jason Taffera: Guitar
Tim Breon: Lead Guitar
Chalie Holmes: Bass
Urie Kline: Drums

Becky recently formed a solo project and will be booking gigs in the Williamsport area in Spring 2017.

Greenwood Friends School Fall Festival

On October 8, 2016 Pepperhead Studios presented entertainment by our family of artists for Greenwood Friend School’s first ever Fall Festival. Here’s some highlights courtesy of Scott Canouse.

The line-up included Americana by Fricknadorable, and blues and jazz from Mike Hickey, including songs from his album “55 and Sunny”.

Urie Kline of Lyco Taiko provided a taiko drum demonstration, after which the rock/punk band Ed Zuber Project took the stage. Five-piece cover band Susquehanna Sunset closed the afternoon with their debut performance.


Bloomsburg Mini Maker Faire

bloomsburg_mmf_logo_wordpressOn April 30 Pepperhead Studios presented entertainment by our family of artists for Bloomsburg’s Mini Maker Faire. Special thanks to Scott Canouse and Roxanne Zuber for taking pictures that day! Here’s some highlights.

Our featured drummer for the event was Urie Kline from Lyco Taiko. Urie has recorded on Mike Hickey’s album “55 and Sunny” and has been working on demos with the Ed Zuber Project and other Pepperhead artists.

Our percussionist was Safa Saracoglu, who also performs with jazz ensemble Negodniki and with the Susquehanna Valley Folk Dance Society.

For more about these Pepperhead Studios releases, visit the sites below:

“World Famous in Bloomsburg” by Paul Loomis
“55 and Sunny” by Mike Hickey

Paul Loomis (photo by Jeremy dePrisco) and Michael Hickey (photo by Scott Canouse)


Fricknadorable (Photo by Justin dePrisco)
Fricknadorable (Photo by Justin dePrisco)


Ed Zuber Project (Photo by Roxanne Zuber)
Ed Zuber Project (Photo by Roxanne Zuber)

We Record Drums!

Gretsch_drums_logoOne of the things that I am proud of here at Pepperhead Studios is that we are set up to record live drums.

In a world of sampling, drum recording is becoming a lost art. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for sampling, and sometimes that is what the music requires.

But as a bass player, I also appreciate what a live drummer brings to the table. A good drummer can make for a better performance, adding lots of energy that otherwise would take much longer to program. Working with real mics in a real space with real drums… we’ll, it’s just more fun!

I offer a well set-up Gretsch kit (call/email for specifics). A secondary – more “rustic” Pearl kit is also available.

In any case what’s here is suitable for rock, blues, punk, country and jazz recording. I have wide selection of cymbals as well. Drummers are welcome to bring their own kit, though I ask that they at least try ours first, as setup takes additional time. Sometimes, all that is needed is your favorite snare or cymbal. Contact us today to learn more.

Real News by Real Kids

My wife Audra, who teaches at Greenwood Friends school, has been working with her students on a podcast series. The students come up with the topics, select people to interview, and do all of the recording on site at the school.

For now they are using a recorder that only saves to MP3, but even so, the end results – with some adjustment here at the studio, are pretty good.

Check out their first episode!

Mike Hickey: 55 and Sunny

We just wrapped up Mike Hickey’s album “55 and Sunny”, and it will be released in March/April 2016 through CD Baby and other online outlets.

Mike grew up near Chicago, where he played in Blues, country, and rock bands and occasionally provided backup guitar for Blues masters including Sam Chatmon of the Mississippi Sheiks and Little Smokey Smothers of the Howlin’ Wolf Band. For about 40 years, Mike wrote and performed angst-filed folk songs about loves lost and opportunities wasted . . . and then he decided to lighten up a little. “55 and Sunny” is the result.

“55 and Sunny” is an eclectic, up-beat collection of 16 songs–fifteen new compositions and a new arrangement of a traditional English folk tune. The tunes range from swinging blues to raucous Balkan dance music, from Afro-pop, Celtic, and Cuban-influenced instrumentals to New Orleans-influenced R&B.

The album, recorded at Pepperhead Studios, features wonderful guitar playing by Mike, with Safa Saracoglu on percussion, John Huckans on organ, and drumming from Urie Kline and Craig Waltman. Visit Mike’s site for the latest.

Purchase the CD

Available for streaming at Spotify!