On June 29, the family dining area of The Back Eddy Lounge and Restaurant was turned into a recording studio.
The reason was to record a CD of mostly Christmas music – such as Silent Night and We Wish You a Merry Christmas – by the fiddle and guitar students of well-known musician Linda Duford.
And it was to be done live, with everyone playing at the same time.
“That’s what we wanted,” said Duford. “Live at The Back Eddy.”
Only two tunes required a second take.
There were 15 students aged from nine to 14 years, plus Duford leading the fiddlers and her son Pat leading the guitarists, along with some parents and Dana Cross, who recorded the music.
“We were packed in like sardines. It was kind of unreal,” said Duford, noting the scene was made even more unusual by the microphones hanging down from the ceiling.
The music was recorded between 3 to 5 p.m. when the restaurant was closed.
“So we had a really tight schedule,” said Duford, who works at the restaurant which is her family’s business.
It was a stressful experience, she said. “It was gruelling and there was sweat rolling down my face.”
The stress was partly caused by the fact that there would be no opportunity to redo the recording, she said. “It was do or die. But having said that, I know from experience that when you’re trying to record something, sometimes the first one is the best one. So I think we got the best we could do.”
The CD will be entitled A Very Hay River Christmas, and it will feature seven Christmas tunes and two non-Christmas tunes.
Duford has heard a demo of the CD, which is due to be released later this month.
“And I just love it,” she said, noting she became teary-eyed by the quality of the performance.
Duford said the recording could have been mixed and tweaked.
“But we didn’t want that,” she said. “It’s not perfect. Because of that, there are little imperfections. It’s ours. It’s different.”
The CD features eight student fiddlers and seven young guitarists, ranging in age from nine to 14.
They call themselves the Big Lake Fiddlers, who are an advanced group, and the Back Water Boiz for beginner guitarists.
Miah Harris, the youngest guitarist at just nine years of age, said recording the CD was fun.
“Just because she makes everything fun,” she said, nodding towards Duford.
Reegan Jungkind, a 14-year-old fiddler who has been taking lessons from Duford for seven years, also enjoyed recording the album.
“I think it’s really awesome,” she said. “We get to showcase all of our talents and just have fun making it.”
Eleven-year-old Mia Steinwand, who plays the fiddle, said recording the CD was exciting.
“It’s really fun and it’s awesome to hear all of these tunes that we made on the CD and sharing them with other people,” she said.
However, 11-year-old Erik Scheper, who plays the fiddle, shared some of Duford’s stress during the recording session.
“I think it was kind of stressful a bit,” he said, looking around the family section of The Back Eddy restaurant. “Well, for one, we were crowded a lot.”
Nevertheless, he said he enjoyed the experience.
Duford said she decided to record the CD now because several of her longtime students are leaving the community.
“We’ve been working together for several years,” she said. “Every year we do focus on Christmas music because we’re in high demand at Christmas. So we decided because some of our members are leaving this year to go to school in other communities, we would take that knowledge and make ourselves a CD of Christmas music.”
She wants the students to have the CD as a keepsake.
It is hoped to have a launch at Fisherman’s Wharf for the CD, which will be on sale at Ring’s Pharmacy.
Duford, who has played fiddle for 40 years and started playing guitar even before that, has also recorded her own CD, which has yet to be released.