Carolina Chocolate Drops 'Leaving Eden'

Mar 1, 2012 9:00 AM, By Barbara Schultz



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photo of Mike Poole

Recording/mixing engineer Mike Poole tracked the band live through an MCI tape machine to Pro Tools HD.

Poole also set up some of the sessions in a more reflective, live room he calls the “veranda,” a concrete-floored, glassed-in porch, which is shown in a video made during the sessions. Filmed in the evening with a couple members in period garb, the Carolina Chocolate Drops look and sound like something out of a 1930s field recording by John Lomax—complete with the night-song of frogs and crickets—except for the modern miking setup: an AEA KU4 on Flemons’ snare and vocal, a Cascade Gomez and Miktek CV4 on Giddens’ fiddle, and a Coles ribbon on Jenkins’ banjo. Poole also set up pairs of Cascade Fatheads and AKG C-61s in the room. Mic pre’s used during the recording included Telefunken V76s (Miller has four), Vintech Neve emulators, API 3124s or occasionally the pre’s in Miller’s Trident B Range console.

Poole says he knew that when it came time to mix, he would have to embrace the leakage: “You know that what you’re going to get is: That’s my mic with everything but mostly mandolin; this is my mic that’s everything with mostly fiddle, etc. You will end up mixing the leak as much as the instruments themselves.”

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During the mix, Poole made use of his analog summing matrix, mic pre’s and compression on the stereo bus. “For each song, I tried a few different pre’s for color and, to make up gain,” he says. “I almost always used a TL Audio into a Burl B2 [Bomber] ADC.”

Miller and Poole’s respectful approach to the music, coupled with modern-hybrid recording methods, resulted in an essential Carolina Chocolate Drops album that sounds as dynamic as it does authentic. As original Drops member Justin Robinson says in a quotation that’s blown up on the band’s Website: “Tradition is a guide, not a jailer. We play in an older tradition but we are modern musicians.”

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