Music

New album rises from the dust of an abandoned church

By Ariana Kramer
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 12/4/19

In the wide open spaces of Jaroso, Colorado, there stands an old adobe building. Originally built as a Catholic church, it was abandoned sometime around the 1960s and officially de-consecrated in the 1970s. When cellist Mark Dudrow bought the land where the old church sits in the mid-'90s, the church was dissolving back into the earth and was occupied by a herd of 40 sheep.

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Music

New album rises from the dust of an abandoned church

Posted

In the wide open spaces of Jaroso, Colorado, there stands an old adobe building. Originally built as a Catholic church, it was abandoned sometime around the 1960s and officially de-consecrated in the 1970s. When cellist Mark Dudrow bought the land where the old church sits in the mid-'90s, the church was dissolving back into the earth and was occupied by a herd of 40 sheep.

Dudrow restored the adobe and turned it into a space for musical concerts, which he hosts. It was in this building that Dudrow and Kate Mann recorded their new CD, called simply "Pink Church Sessions."

The duo has performed together for several years now. Mann sings vocals and plays guitar and Dudrow plays cello and sings back-up vocals. They perform both songs and instrumental tunes. Mann's rich and colorful voice brings texture and an earthy root to the music the duo creates. Dudrow's skillful cello-playing adds a soulful voice that carries deep emotion and soars upwards in turn.

Mann and Dudrow will have a CD release party Wednesday (Dec. 11) from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at The Taos Inn's Adobe Bar, 125 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, Taos, (575) 758-2233. There is no cover charge.

I caught up with Dudrow at a local coffee shop and with Mann over email. Dudrow told me the album was one of several recorded in the old pink church by world-class engineer, Erick Jaskowiak, who created the studio at Compass Records. Jaskowiak first met Dudrow at one of the house concerts he held in the old church. Jaskowiak, who lives in Nashville, was on tour as the sound engineer for one of the invited musicians.

"Erick fell in love with the building," said Dudrow.

Jaskowiak asked Dudrow if he could come back and record in the building. Dudrow agreed.

"Erick stayed at my house in Jaroso for a month and recorded several projects in the old church space back in May - both local musicians and people who play on the national circuit," said Dudrow. "He's a world-class engineer with unbelievable microphones and custom gear … I feel incredibly lucky to know him as a good friend and to record with him."

Mann commented, "Erick was great to work with. He is very personable and kind, and also obviously really knows what he's doing. He made the recording process easy."

"Even though he's really one of the best engineers in the country, he's a completely humble, down-to-earth nice guy," said Dudrow.

Erick Jaskowiak's recordings have been nominated seven times for the Grammy Awards, most recently in 2019. His recordings have also won the Spellemannprisen, the Norwegian equivalent of the Grammy Awards. He has recorded Kenny Rogers, The Chieftains, Allison Krauss and many more.

"Pink Church Sessions" is the second CD recorded by Mann and Dudrow. It opens and closes with two of Mann's original songs "The Devil Lives Next Door" and "The Wind Blows."

"I like taking situations from daily life and finding the poetry in them," said Mann about her songs. "A wind storm, a scary neighbor ... anything is fair game!"

Another song, "So You Can Plant Your Garden," is based on a poem by the 14th century poet Hafiz who lived in Persia (modern day Iran).

Mann explained how she came to write this song.

"I asked my friend Daniel Ladinsky, who is a renowned translator of Hafiz and other mystical poets, if I could turn one of his poems into a song, and he gave me his blessing. This one was based on his poem 'So You Can Plant More Wheat' in the book 'A Year With Hafiz.' "

The remaining six songs on the album are traditional instrumental tunes and songs: "Rain and Snow," "Old Joe East to West," "False Hearted Lover Blues," "Salt Creek," "Wind and Rain" and "La Bruja."

Dudrow and Mann regularly gig together in Taos. Their new CD is representative of their live music, both in content, and in sound. Dudrow explained that the idea was to record the acoustics of a live concert in the old pink adobe church.

"We like our recordings to sound like what we sound like when we play, said Dudrow. He said the recording process took five hours, and then a few days of mixing.

"I loved this because it was very organic, it was about the sound of the actual building that we were trying to capture as well as the music. Whereas in a standard studio you're looking for things to be absolutely flat, and then you add reverbs … We didn't really go for that perfect studio sound. We wanted it to sound like us playing live in that old space, because the acoustics are lovely in there, because it has adobe walls, and there are no actual parallel surfaces anywhere because everything is just slightly off … so it makes the sound wonderful."

Dudrow told me that Jaskowiak was so taken by the sound of the old church that he even created a way electronically to recreate its particular reverb.

"He's probably using that reverb in Nashville right now," Dudrow said.

For their CD release party, Mann and Dudrow will be playing songs from their new CD as well as others from their extensive repertoire. You can catch Mann and Dudrow playing at The Taos Inn's Adobe Bar every second Wednesday of the month.

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