When the folks in Spirit Family Reunion raise their voices in song, they deliver an inspiring message. Their mostly acoustic approach combines elements of rock with hints of bluegrass and country music. They have a feel that approaches the fervent emotions of gospel music, but their messages stay grounded in the secular world. Banjo player Maggie Carson will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our new feature on the band
Carson: Some days stick around in your life long past midnight. We should consider the day we met a bearded bicycle mechanic named Andrew one of those days. Who knows the exact date back in 2010 when we made the acquaintance of this multi-talented man. Since that day, AG, as we call him, has lovingly assisted us in all of our recording efforts in studio, at home and anything in between. He’s been able to do this because he’s the most patient human being we’ve come to know. That’s a good guy for a band to know. And it’s a shitty twist of some fucked-up bastard version of fate that tests a man of such patience.
In the spring of 2012, we were almost done recording our first full album in AG’s Park Slope studio. At the same time, we were amongst a group of friends helping to break down that studio and build a new studio of dreams on the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn. We helped with demolition, transportation of gear, and construction as part of our payment for AG’s recording work. By October, when the new Translator Audio Studio was ready to open, we were out on the road with our brand-new record, and we missed their opening party. We will never got to see that studio because two weeks later, on Oct. 30, 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit New York hard and sent the filthy sludge of the Gowanus Canal gushing into the new studio—bending back the roll-up gate, smashing the doors and destroying everything. nearly half a million dollars worth of vintage equipment and brand-new construction material ruined.
Throughout trips to multiple triage storage units, the sorting of salvageable parts, dealing with insurance companies and lawyers and realtors, setting up a new studio in Coney Island, recording our new album, then breaking down that new studio, and not to mention wrenching on bicycles the entire fucking time, AG has inspired us all with his extraordinary composure. It’s hard enough paying for your life in New York City as a recording engineer, let alone when the brand-new business you just went all-in on gets completely erased in one single day. AG has done it with more grace than we can change a tire with. That’s a good guy for anybody to know.
After looking at more than a hundred spaces and submitting more than a dozen offers, still nothing. It seems that NYC is no longer a place where a few dedicated and talented recording engineer partners can build a small business. Not only has a reasonable 10-year lease on a studio-friendly space (the kind they signed in Gowanus in 2012) become impossible to find, but the Bushwick studios where AG moonlighted in between his moves are now being destroyed by bulldozers, to make room for upscale apartments. Every step that AG takes in recovering from this disaster he seems to encounter another hurdle, and he does it with great equanimity again and again. And so he has set up the latest incarnation of Translator Audio with a combination of rehabilitated gear and post-hurricane acquisitions. It’s a somewhat more covert operation for now that straddles the line between a home-studio and studio-home in Flatbush, Brooklyn, where he can continue to pay for his life in New York City by making records.