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December 21, 2010 / coalstovesinkguest

listen for the echos

Coal Stove Sink? Guesthouse? Definitely some fancy pants naming going on! When I first spent a weekend at “Coal Stove Sink,” it was more like an extra attic storage area than an upscale country cabin. Not that I’m complaining – other than my very own bed in my very own home, it’s my favorite place to stay!

If this guestbook had begun several years ago, I would have been posting semi-annually with stories of music, merriment and the excellent cooking and bar-tending of the host. As it is, I’ll attempt to distill some of the highlights.

Said highlights definitely center around attempts to transform “Coal Stove Sink” from a storage shed littered with boxes filled with blankets, duplo (you know, the giant lego pieces made for toddlers), cassette tapes, miscellaneous computer parts from the 1980s, etc. into a “state of the art” (or “state of the host’s and guest’s budgets”) music recording studio.

Here are some of the ways the host and I have collaborated to get our signature sound:

Sipping Mount Gay Rum – Extra Old.

Placing the mandolin player at the top of a seven foot step-ladder in order to capture the proper balance of room reverberations, raindrops on the roof, cicadas in the trees, and yard-care machinery.

Enlisting the help of the host’s son to create extremely nuanced song-endings involving the squawking of chickens – ok, they weren’t the real chickens, but rather the musicians imitating the chickens that live in the other corner of the yard.

Sipping Mount Gay Rum – Extra Old.

Occasionally, adding Absinthe followed by a power crash until 4pm.

Post-midnight banter including quotes by Malibu Barbie and Mylie Cyrus.

Adding a room mic by hanging it from one of the rafters (used to be bare wood, now painted a tasteful cinnabar to offset the “Coal Stove Sink”).

Sipping Mount Gay Rum – Extra Old.

Sipping Mount Gay Rum – Extra Old.

Lots of guidance and traffic directing by band-mates during the recording of takes . . . “for God’s sake, come back in!”

Breaks to play in the open-air by the river.

Breaks to sip beverages while sitting in the river.

Spending hours upon hours upon hours playing, sipping, laughing, sipping and playing to get that certain “je ne sais quoi” that can only be captured in “Coal Stove Sink.”

Sipping Mount Gay Rum – Extra Old!

Even though the list could go on for pages, I’ll wrap things up by saying “Coal Stove Sink” no longer resembles an extra attic storage area. With the addition of the plumbing, the shower, the paint job and the general sprucing up, it’s now clearly worthy of being called a guesthouse. Perhaps when I’m feeling fancy pants, I’ll even bring myself to calling it Coal Stove Sink.

If you get a chance to stay there, try listening very carefully – you may even hear the faint echos of chickens, cicadas, or a mandolin being played seven feet up in the air!

– RS

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