Recording technology has become more portable than ever, but Grammy-winning producer Alan Sanderson was still surprised when he received a call to engineer a vocal recording at Humphrey’s Half Moon Inn prior to America’s concert at the venue on August 13.
The session took place in room 203, with America vocalist Dewey Bunnell on one bed and producer David Pack, best known as frontman for ’70s hitmakers Ambrosia, on the other. The untitled song was recorded for an upcoming Pack disc, which will have him collaborating with guest artists. America has performed at Humphrey’s for 16 consecutive seasons, beginning in 1996.
North Park resident Sanderson is used to getting things organized quickly whenever big-name clients who are on tour in the area want to do some recording, including a 2005 Keith Richards session at Strate Sound Studios in Santee. However, he considers this particular recording date to be “surreal.” “It was extremely unusual,” Sanderson said. “I only got the call for the session the night before, so I was going into the space blind, so to speak. The room we were in was small, so we had to put the big-screen TV out on the balcony.”
Pack provided the mobile recording gear. The session took less than two hours, including equipment setup and testing. “It had to all be done quickly because [Bunnell] had to be at sound check shortly,” Sanderson remarked. “Basically, when Pack came in, he said we had to start recording in 15 minutes. I just crossed my fingers that it would all come together.”
While Sanderson anticipated that the hotel’s power supply might cause the makeshift studio some delays, the biggest problem turned out to be much more mundane: “I had to have the maid stop her vacuuming a couple of times in the room next door, to keep her from bleeding into the vocal track.”