Gremlintone Studio

Gremlintone Studio, created and operated by local musician and all around badass John Courage, is making big waves. Recording some of Santa Rosa’s favorite music, and creating a vibe that only Courage could produce.

The studio started as an experiment, recording a hard rock side project in 2014, with a 4 track mixer that Courage borrowed from Steve Shirrel, of Stanroy Music Center. The project was a blast, and that’s all it took; Courage was hooked on analog. In his opinion, the industry’s eagerness to dive into digital recording has bypassed a lot of great sounding affordable equipment. Chances are, many of your favorite albums were recorded analog. Older gear may not be lightweight and compact, but it still delivers.

With the 4 track, (eventually purchased from Shirrel) Gremlintone recorded The Crux, Oddjob Ensemble, Sharkmouth, Yerba Buena Brothers, Frankie Boots, Freddy Parish and others. The cost of recording an album in a traditional studio varies, but averages around $4-$6,000. But, in his home studio, Courage has created a comfortable, collaborative, affordable recording experience for his friends to, as he put it, “hit the gym” without breaking the bank.

The days of the 4 track have passed, and the studio was recently upgraded to a Tascam 388 eight track recorder at the beginning of their newest project, “The Out There Tapes: A Compilation by Gremlintone” set to release in June.

This project, in partnership with The City of Santa Rosa and Josh Windmiller of The Crux; is a compilation of 13 tracks, from 13 bands, all from Sonoma County, recorded and mixed by John Courage. The tapes were recorded on the Tascam 388 as well as a Tascam 38 1/2″ eight track. Courage says, “Most of the bands were tracked completely live to achieve the essence of their performance. The project was mixed in analog before being transferred to digital for mastering”. Culture Pop Films , our local media guru, came to capture some of the sessions live, making music videos to be released alongside the compilation.

An unprecedented insight into our excellent, eclectic local music scene, “The Out There Tapes” will document a splay of Santa Rosa’s finest musicians, a kind of a time capsule, for music lovers.

The album debuts on June 11, 2017 at the 3rd annual Railroad Square Music Festival But stay tuned to OutThereSR.com and you’ll  be able to catch a few previews.

In the mean time, support local music and keep rock ‘n’ roll alive!


Santa Rosa or Busk

Busking, or street performing, is a time honored tradition of musicians all over the world.

Its a unique element when experiencing a city, that gives passerby's a window into the sounds of local culture, that they may have otherwise never known.

Any day of the week in front of Oliver’s Market one can encounter an ever-changing gammot of local talent. Irish fiddle one day, blues guitar the next, accordion ensembles, loop artists, percussionists, folk singers; you’re eventually bound to hear something you like, and throw a few bucks in the jar.

In 2010, local musician and artist Aaron Milligan Green appealed to the city, gathering 3,000 signatures from Santa Rosa Residents to make Busking a legal and welcome activity. Anyone can now go into city hall and request a permit to play in public spaces for tips, with certain regulations of course. At the bottom of this page you can download a permit, get the guidelines and read the Street Performers Ordinance.

Try your luck, though! Just like any job, it has its challenges, and takes dedication to be successful. Busking can be an invaluable asset to a musical career. Allowing for the chance to practice, and perfect performances, play in front of people, network, advertise a craft, and make money doing what you love.

We are lucky to live in a place that follows in the footsteps of some of the most enchanting cities in the world, where music is embraced and displayed as a cultural gem. And Santa Rosa is lucky to have so many talented artists, bringing new sounds to our local street life.

Here's just a short sample of the sidewalk sounds of Santa Rosa.


Oddjob Ensemble

After its formation in Santa Rosa’s West End Neighborhood just last year, Oddjob Ensemble seems to have been everywhere in 2016. Directed by local musician Kalei Yamanoha, they recently finished recording their first album.
This six piece consortium, inspired by traditional sounds from around the world, doesn’t just have its finger on the pulse of Santa Rosa, they’re bringing in whole new life.

In their first year, Oddjob made impressive appearances, at The Great American Music Hall, Maker Faire and Lightning in a Bottle. But also close to home, at Railroad Square Music Festival, Rivertown Revival, Lagunitas Skunk Train, and Hopmonk Tavern to name a few. The Oddjob Trio also accompanies Tobias Weinberger and The Traveling Spectacular, writing and performing original scores for a throwback, one of a kind, traveling circus show. To say they’ve been busy, is a total understatement.
Oddjob Ensemble’s self titled album was recorded at Gremlintone Studios near Historic Railroad Square in Santa Rosa. Gremlintone houses a vintage, custom built, analog recording studio owned and operated by John Courage. The entire album was recorded onto quarter inch tape, using a reel to reel 8 track recorder, before being sent to Myles Boisen in Oakland for mastering. Courage’s analog approach captures much of the old time sound that many say is lost in today’s digital recordings. His long time love for music, and deep ties in the scene make Gremlintone a special place, and many local musicians looking for that unique sound are finding that Courage has it dialed in.

On February 11, McNear’s Mystic Theatre in Petaluma will host the Double Album Release Party, with The Dixie Giants, The Highway Poets and Oddjob Ensemble. The Dixie Giants will be headlining and also releasing their newest, and all original album, “Dressed and Ready to Go”.
To hear the sweet music, and support local art, visit www.oddjobensemble.com, or for more info on the album release show please visit www.mystictheatre.com.


Live At Juilliard

By Guest Blogger Estefany Gonzalez

The first Time I attended Live at Juilliard was last summer. I was hanging out with a bunch of broke college students who like me, couldn't afford a night of bar hopping. When we walked up, there were people of all ages dancing, families eating picnics and people laying out in the grass drinking beer.

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For 23 years, Live at Juilliard has put on a lively summer concert series and offered free performances featuring local talent. The live music rotates each week and offers a wide range of musical genres. One week will showcase mellow singer-songwriters and others, like the first time I went, band’s like The Crux will play unique blends reminiscent of punk and gypsy sounds.

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We attended the event because it was something free to do on Sunday’s, but continued to go because it gave us a sense of community. We enjoyed seeing couples in their 60’s dance together and kids running around on the playground while their parents watch the band.

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Each event offers something for both the young and the young at heart. On show days you can find small children getting their faces painted by Clementine The Amazing, as well as an older crowd sipping on beer and wine at the Artstart booth.

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A unique part of this concert series is that it’s all solar powered. As you watch local acts on an impressive stage placed in the heart of Juilliard park, you can see large solar panels powering the performance.

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Each event takes place Sunday from 5-7 p.m. and lasts the whole summer. The list of performers for this season includes blues and R&B musicians The Lucky Losers, Funk and soul band Afrofunk Experience and Americana babes The Bootleg Honeys.

The 2016 concert dates include July 10, 17, 24, 31 and August 7 and 14. For a full list of scheduled performers and the park’s address, click here.

estafanyEstefany Gonzalez is a writer and photographer from Santa Rosa. She spends most of her time at local concerts and taking pictures. She’s written for The North Bay Bohemian, The Bay Bridged, KQED and other publications. You can see her photography portfolio and find links to her social media viawww.estefancy.weebly.com.