Stepping Inside RCA Studio A

When word started coming out in late June of last year that RCA Studio A - currently operated by Ben Folds and his team, and called Grand Victor Sound Nashville - was to be sold, demolished, and replaced by a mixed-use luxury condo complex, I was still living in New York, wrapping things up before I could make the move to Tennessee. And quite honestly, I had nowhere near any kind of complete knowledge about the studio other than its connection to Ben Folds. And I still don't. But through the campaign waged by Ben and others like Trey Bruce, Sharon Corbitt-House, and Mike Kopp, I became a supporter of #SaveStudioA, as did many others. Specifically, Aubrey Preston, Mike Curb, and Chuck Elcan, who each stepped up to save the studio that witnessed the recordings of classics songs like Dolly Parton's "Jolene." All seven of them were named Nashville Scene's "2014 Nashvillians Of The Year," and you can read the whole compelling story about the effort here. And on Monday the 12th, I finally got to step inside RCA Studio A.


On that day, there was an open-to-the-public press conference announcing a partnership between the Music Industry Coalition - the organization put together to represent "the past and future of Nashville's music industry and its birthplace, Music Row" - and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. So, of course I went, because why not? I mean, Mayor Karl Dean was there. Congressman Jim Cooper was there. The Nashvillians Of The Year were there. Why shouldn't I be there?! Read about the event here.

Despite the water for the peppermint tea being lukewarm, actually being inside that studio was great. First of all, it is by far the biggest studio I have ever been in, and could probably house at least fifty of the studio we built and recorded Over The Edge in. It has four grand pianos, two upright pianos, countless organs, synthesizers, and other keyboards, drums, guitars, basses, huge moveable baffle walls, a full hi-fi listening area set up like a little living room, a staircase up to a second floor room, and some seriously sexy microphones that just seemed to be casually hanging around. Having been built in the 60s, it also has a certain decor that I've often found myself (maybe oddly) fond of - a feeling that I similarly feel whenever I visit the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC - and that was all just the live room! I sadly didn't have a chance to look into the control room. But you could feel an energy that honestly came off as very unassuming; you walk into 30 Music Square West and the studio is just the door on the left. As often as I drive by it, it's cool to wonder who is working just behind the the outside wall. As a matter of fact, the day of the event the organizers encouraged us to stay, but to not stay too long because Ben had to get back to finishing his new album. Music happens there. I stole a fun-sized crunch bar on my way out.


This past Saturday night I was hanging out in front of Ernest Tubb Record Shop on Broadway, talking to a guy that I knew from a couple open mics who was playing on the street, when I notice a taller guy standing in front of us looking into the store. I immediately recognized him as Aubrey Preston. I introduced myself to him and his wife, shook his hand, and thanked him for all he's done for RCA Studio A.

Just another day where I can say: this is why I moved to Nashville.

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    © STEVE SCHULTZ