Legendary blues and R&B guitarist Robben Ford isn’t talking about any old day in Nashville on his new album, which he will highlight during a show Saturday in Salt Lake City.
He’s talking about the day he and co-producer Rick Wheeler gathered an accomplished group of musicians in a studio and cut all nine tracks for “A Day in Nashville.” In one day.
Originally, Ford said, the record was going to be the product of three live concerts recorded in Germany.
“When my co-producer, Rick Wheeler, and I got back to the United States, we didn’t like what we heard.” Ford said. “So Wheeler said, ‘Why don’t we just cut the whole thing over?’ I thought that was kind of a preposterous notion.”
Wheeler said he told Ford, “ ‘We can do the live show three times in a row in a controlled environment, mix and match, and do everything.’ [Ford] said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding,’ and I said, ‘What’s the difference? We just have to treat it as a live thing. We just can’t stop and do typical studio stuff, we just gotta go.’ ”
So they booked the Nashville studio date.
In many ways, Wheeler said, the odds were against them. Ford fractured his wrist three weeks before the recording and had to postpone his fall tour, which additionally meant the musicians wouldn’t be well-practiced. But they kept the recording date.
“Everybody came to Nashville the day before and had a quick rehearsal,” Wheeler said. “Then 9 in the morning, we loaded everything into the studio, and by 10 at night, we had the tracks down.”
Wheeler, who was also the engineer for the album, described the mixing process as “90 percent terror.” The record label asked him to mix it in a day (but eventually gave him two).
“Every time I mixed a song, while the setting engineer was documenting all the settings, I was driving the mix over to the mastering engineer, about 10 minutes away — after every song. I’d give it to him and then I’d drive back, I’d mix the next song, drive it over there and come back.”
Wheeler chuckled and added that despite fast-and-furious machinations behind the album, the finished product “sounds like everybody’s so calm and relaxed and just falling off a log.”
The album has been well-received. On its release, it went straight to top positions on iTunes and Amazon and debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard blues charts — in addition to a warm response by critics and journalists.
For Ford’s evening in Salt Lake, the closing show in the JazzSLC season, he’ll be playing with Brian Allen on bass, Ricky Peterson on keyboards and Wes Little on drums. They are the band members on the album, as well.
Ford, who recently returned to the U.S. after touring Japan and Hong Kong, said it has been a long time since he’s played in Salt Lake City and he’s looking forward to making a return.
For those who aren’t already fans, Ford described himself as being “primarily blues and R&B.” He said he grew up listening to the music of the ’60s.
“Basically every guitar player was a blues guitar player in the ’60s,” he said. “Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Albert King and of course, B.B. King, and all these people were starting to get their first exposure. I live two hours from San Francisco, and so I was constantly going down there and seeing all these people play.”
An evening in Salt Lake
P R&B guitarist Robben Ford performs in support of his new album, “A Day in Nashville.” The show is the last in the JazzSLC series for the year.
When • Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Where • Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City
Tickets • $32.50 general public, $10 students (ID required); available at www.arttix.org or 801-355-ARTS (2787).