Cover Photo By: Rebecca Elizabeth Photography
On the Right Track With Right Coast Recording
By: Rachel Rocks
Right Coast Recording is one of Central Pennsylvania’s oldest professional recording studios, offering the best of old-school and cutting-edge recording technologies. The Columbia based studio was established in Lititz in 1990 by Dave Natale and Dave Wilkerson. They were both formerly employed at Clair Brothers, better known today as Clair Global, where they had plenty of experience mixing concerts all over the world. They have both spent most of their adult lives on the road touring with huge acts, Dave Natale is currently on tour with The Rolling Stones as their Front of House Engineer, and Dave Wilkerson is currently working with Rob Thomas, also as his Front of House Engineer. Obviously these two guys know what they are doing, and they have been doing it for thirty plus years. Since their career kept them on the road, in 2001 they hired Bobby Gentilo from Baltimore to work more in house as Right Coast Recording’s Engineer and Producer.
Bobby started recording when he was just a young kid by bouncing tracks from one cassette tape deck to another. When he got into writing songs he needed to know how to get the sounds he wanted to hear on tape. As a result Gentilo became a self-confessed “studio rat,” eventually and perhaps inevitably connecting with the Right Coast and the two Dave’s.
“As soon as I stepped into Right Coast Recording’s studio, it felt like home. There is a certain vibe you get just stepping in the door that instantly put me at ease, and I’m sure it’s like that for the musicians that enter our door too.”
You immediately walk into their huge studio area that is well known for it’s great sound. All around you are different instruments and equipment. The studio offers the area’s largest selection of classic outboard equipment, microphones and microphone preamps, as well as a selection of vintage guitar and bass amplifiers, drum kits, snare drums, cymbals, Hammond Organs, and electric pianos. Their live room offers ample space for complete band setup and live tracking sessions. Isolation is obtained from their two ISO booths, located just off the main room. Their Facebook page currently has a video of Kyle Morgan’s song, “Will I Ever Know Joy” that is intercut with footage of their recording session at Right Coast. You can quickly see how big their studio room is and that they can easily have a full band recording at the same time.
Another thing Right Coast Recording has at their fingertips is plenty of amazing studio musicians. Some of those musicians play in a band with Bobby, called Shrimpboat. Shrimpboat is an eight-piece band that is made up of a variety of talented musicians Bobby worked with numerous times in different situations, but he knew that all of their sounds would mesh into a great band, and hence Shrimpboat was born. It’s a 60’s inspired soul band with lots of groove to keep their fans dancing all night long. If you want a taste of what Right Coast has to offer check out Shrimpboat.
I’ve seen plenty of pictures of the control room at Right Coast, but I was shocked when I saw it live and in person. Right Coast has a great mix of “old school” and cutting edge technologies, they can record in both analog and digital. I was always confused at the difference and Bobby explained it to me pretty easily … “Analog has soul.” He also explained it like Ranch vs. Lite Ranch dressing. If you taste Lite Ranch you think, “wow that’s not bad, I can eat that…” but when you get a taste of real Ranch dressing, there is no turning back. It’s just like that extra bit of deliciousness. It’s hard to write this article because I know nothing about the recording process at all, and I know some of you, (our readers) know way more than I do, but one thing I can tell you is that Bobby knows what he’s talking about and he’s not going to make you feel stupid by asking too many questions, or bore you with the details when you already know them. The biggest thing he kept saying about how he works as an Engineer and a Producer is, “I’ll try my best to do the right thing, the right way, for the right reason.”
When working with the artists it’s very important to keep the energy, vibe, and confidence strong. It’s important to know where an artist wants to go and ultimately what they are trying to achieve. The artist has to be able to trust the Producer, but the Producer also has to make the artist comfortable.
The band Ton-Taun, based out of Lancaster, is currently working, growing, and creating in the studio and beyond. Even after a 13-hour day of recording, and with the advancements of technology, Ton-Taun’s lead singer Jordan Capizzi was texting Bobby fresh ideas for yet another song. That’s what it’s all about, keeping the creative juices flowing and allowing the artists to express themselves in every way possible. As an Engineer Bobby has worked hard to know what works, how it sounds, and how to make things happen quickly, and as a Producer he’s also learned that sometimes technical perfection is not the answer, it can be a little out of tune, a little out of time, if it’s soulful, let it be. There is definitely a huge benefit to have an Engineer and Producer in one head, as he’s listening he can tell what’s wrong, and he knows how to fix it, and he also knows if it’s something that should be fixed physically by a different instrument, chord, or amp, or if it can be fixed with a quick edit. At some studios you have to pay five guys to do what these guys can do.
Another benefit to the studio is Bobby’s experience in another band he plays guitar in, The Cornlickers. Even though Bobby lives in Columbia, PA himself, he travels down to Clarkesdale, Mississippi to play with The Cornlickers as the house band at Red’s Lounge, the most famous juke joint in the world! They were also legendary bluesman Big Jack Johnson’s backing band. Due to all of these connections in the “blues” world, Right Coast Recording has recorded over a dozen albums for some of the best international blues musicians. You can find Right Coast Recording’s CDs all over the world, and especially in Colombia, South America, where Carlos Elliot Jr. and The Cornlickers were ranked #8 on the Pop Charts, beating out one of the legends, Bruce Springsteen. Because of their chart success, they were invited to play Colombia’s biggest music festival in Bogota, and went on tour throughout the country. Bobby knows and understands first hand that there is no limit to where your music can take you.
Right Coast Recording will soon be revealing their new website and logo design, done by their new Studio Apprentice, Logan Kurtec. It’s always good to introduce fresh blood into the group to bring fresh ideas and perspectives. You can find them online at www.rightcoastrecording.com, and of course they are on Facebook too. Logan will also be working on improving their Social Media presence, so I’m sure you will be seeing more updates from Right Coast Recording soon.
If you are ready to record your next song or album, give Right Coast Recording a call at 717-681-9801 so you can all get inspired together to help make your musical dreams a reality.
Pictured Left to Right: Dave Natale, Bobby Gentilo, Dave Wilkerson, and Carlos Elliot Jr.