Happy Thursday everyone! When Mother Goat reached out to me earlier this week to ask about a write up for their album launch party this weekend, I immediately said yes. Because I’ll take any opportunity to support our small, yet incredibly homegrown and talented, music scene on St. John. But as I asked questions about their recording process at a new studio in Coral Bay, I became more and more intrigued. Wait…There’s a recording studio ON St. John?!? You learn something new every day right?
Well, I thought this story was so much more than their album release party (tomorrow night!)…It’s all very remniscent of Love City. It’s about a St. John based band recording their very first studio album. And a new recording studio on island that marks Mother Goat’s Circus in the Cistern album as their first completed project on St. John! Oh, and there’s a bit about the true effectiveness of the Cocount Telegraph in here as well 🙂
When Allen and Jill Clapp arrived on St. John from Northern California in March of 2021 to start a new life here on island, they had no idea how much of a positive impact they would make on the overtly talented community of musicians here in Love City. You see, at their home in the Redwoods and everywhere they have lived and played music over the years, they have always had a little recording studio. Allen’s philosophy is the idea that people who live in a beautiful place shouldn’t have to leave that place to professionally record their music.
So, he and Jill, who have played music together as The Orange Peels and been recording since the 1990’s, built a recording studio in their Coral Bay home, just steps from Miss Lucy’s and the iconic weekly Open Mic night that occurs there on Thursdays. And they organically developed the support of the community of musicians on St. John to move forward in opening the doors of Coral Star Studio in October of 2021. This weekend, a band, born on St. John, will play their album release party at the St. John School of the Arts. An album that is the first finished product from our very own St. John recording studio. An album entitled Circus in the Cistern.
Mother Goat, a St. John born and based funk band with an enthusiastic local following, is comprised of Jalil Jahantab (bass), Tyler Perrino (drums), Jared Warren (keys) and Aaron Strickland (electric guitar). The band members culminative time on island spans decades of years and a multitude of musical projects. Aaron and Jalil played in an Ohio based band called Brother Nature when they first arrived on island in 2013. Jared and Tyler have always been involved with many of the St. John based bands in their decades of time spent here on island, namely the ISH and Butter. There is not a full band that plays on this island that at least one of these talented gentlemen don’t have a hand in. And way back when, Jared would occasionally sit in with Brother Nature and Jalil and Aaron would fill in with the ISH or Butter.
After that, Aaron dreamed up the idea of a St. John funk band. The newly formed quartet had a rehearsal and then came up with the name and then played a gig… and then another….and then another.
So for several years, Mother Goat has been working on developing an eclectic list of cover songs and a wide array of original material to their live performance repertoire at The Beach Bar, The Windmill Bar, Salty Mongoose and other venues on island. In the true spirit of a “jam band,” no set is identical to the last and they keep the audience repeatedly on their toes and in their dancing shoes with music, antics and (more often than not) themed costumes. And, as with any rapidly evolving band, they eventually had enough original material to record an album. And they had a strong urge to do so. But where?
The foursome considered a studio on St. Croix and one in Puerto Rico. And had finally settled on St. Croix in order to keep their grass roots operation in the VI and close to home. And then they met Allen.
Jalil met Allen and Jill through another incredible island talent, Lauren Jones Magnie. You might recognize musical songstress Lauren as the host of a multitude of open mic nights over the years (Sun Dog and Miss Lucy’s). It was an open mic night at Miss Lucy’s that brought Mother Goat and Allen and Jill together to create something magical.
“We were convinced we were going to fly out… then I met Allen and Jill pretty much that night and saw the studio and couldn’t believe that opportunity. The stars aligned that night,” Jalil told me.
They met, walked down the beach to check out the studio and went to work almost immediately. They did a test track, a reggae jam entitled Love City. And the next day recorded the rest of the eleven songs on their new album in one shot.
They show up on a Friday night and lay down “Love City” — a dub reggae influenced jam-band ode to our island’s nickname (either that or the mini mart on the other end of town). It’s going pretty well, sounding good. They decide they wanna do the whole album here. I say: “Can you all come back tomorrow?” and they do. That’s when they bust out the entire live tracking for their 12-song debut in a marathon session. – Allen Clapp
After five evenings of overdubs, Circus in the Cistern, the first complete project from Coral Star Studio AND Mother Goat, was complete. And, if you have spent any time AT ALL on St. John, you know how incredibly important a recording studio here might be! There is so much musical talent on this island and how cool is it that artists who have spent decades calling this place home can now put a “recorded on St. John” stamp on their upcoming albums?!?
“It’s kinda ridiculous, ” Allen told me on the phone yesterday. “It’s kind of an embarrassment to the richness of talent around here that there isn’t a recording studio!”
You see, Allen and Jill come from California where there are SO many studios and opportunities for musicians and artists to leave their mark on the world. When they moved here, they didn’t have their sights set on creating and marketing a studio here. But instead with the intent of, like they had done many times in the past, starting their own little recording studio to lay down some tracks in. But as the coconut telegraph did its thing (if you know, you know), more and more artists began asking about the studio at Miss Lucy’s open mic. Just down the road from their home. And now resident and visiting musicians will have the opportunity to record in the inspiring surroundings of Coral Bay!
Both Jared and Jalil couldn’t say enough great things about their experience with the Clapps at Coral Star Studio.
“The actual process of the album was so smooth,” said Jalil. “The boys would show up all together and we would just knock it out. We recorded most of it in a day…With a few days after of overdubs. After the sessions we would just talk about life and music with Allen and he’s just a great soul. He would put in work on the recordings while we were gone and then ask us what we thought when we came back.”
“The recording process was amazing for us. The studio is oceanfront out in Coral Bay,” Jared said. “It was kind of incredible. The studio features a ‘cistern reverb’ which is basically a speaker and some mics inside of the cistern. So, the album has no digital reverb, which is kind of amazing in this day in age. We named the album after that Circus in the Cistern.”
Curious about this comment, I asked Allen about his cistern reverb technique in a follow up call. And I literally laughed out loud as he described it to me. It’s SUCH a St. John centric add to the overall experience for these artists! For those of you who aren’t super technical, like myself, the reverb creates the sound effect of being in a large hall. That echoey and full sound that has been created electronically over the years or with other props because, hey, everyone can’t afford to record in a large hall to get some authenticity to that sound.
One day, Allen was checking the water level in his cistern and accidentally dropped the heavy cover on the floor. “It sounded like a sound effect in a movie,” he exclaimed.
With a bit of rigging of some speakers and microphones, he was able to capture that natural echo from the cistern into the music recorded in the studio.
“Any sound we can make in the studio, we can pipe into that.”
Only trouble is according to Allen, with all this rain, the cistern is full and has lost its a lot of its capabilities. The reverb is best when it is about half full. HA! This is such an island problem!! But the rainy season held at bay while the recording of Mother Goat’s first album was occurring. And so, cistern created reverb can be heard throughout the entirety of Circus in the Cistern.
Tomorrow night, Mother Goat and Allen and Jill and more than a handful of their loyal following will celebrate the completion of this album at a very special performance to benefit the St. John School of the Arts (SJSA) at the school itself in the heart of Cruz Bay. The band will perform a night of original music from the “recorded on St. John” album as well as some other favorites and Circus in the Cistern, as recorded in Coral Bay, will be played during the set breaks. The ticket sales for the event will go to SJSA and a portion of the proceeds from the bar, being provided by St. John Brewers, and light food provided by Sam & Jack’s Deli will also go to the school.
Jared has been involved with SJSA for twenty years behind his wife, Angie, who started as a dancer, became a board member and was the interim co-director last year.
“We have always felt that supporting arts education for kids is extremely important for making a better world,” Jared said.
“The SJSA has done amazing things for the kids of this community who are no doubt underserved and this event will hopefully raise money for the scholarship program so that some kid who wants to take music lessons can. We chose this venue because it’s a special place and we felt it was the best place to share our art.”
Tickets for tomorrow night’s celebration (doors at 5:20PM, showtime 6PM) are available in advance for $10 or at the doors for $15. To secure your tickets for the event, simply email Jared. If you are planning to attend, be advised that this is an intimate performance and will likely sell out. So, if you are on island and plan to get involved in this AWESOME event, get your tickets now!
If you are not on island but would like to find out more information on any of this or support SJSA, please refer to the following links:
- If you are interested in more information about Coral Star Studio you can email Allen directly with your inquiries.
- To find out where Mother Goat is playing the next time you are visiting, follow them on Facebook.
- To listen to the new album and other tunes by Mother Goat, visit this site. The new album will be live at 2:22AM Saturday morning on Spotify 🙂
- To donate directly to SJSA in support of music and art programs for the children of St. John, please visit their website.
See you all tomorrow night! I’ll be wearing my dancing shoes 🙂