Live music to go: Base Camp Pizza releases album

Base Camp Pizza

This live performance by Mike “Mic” Smith at Base Camp Pizza was recorded for the album.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

The owners of Base Camp Pizza Co. have released “Live at Base Camp,” a music album recorded at the restaurant venue and available for purchase in support of local non-profit groups.

The bar and pizza joint, which has been a prominent supporter of the local live music scene over the past three years, has attracted a host of musicians of all stripes, playing two shows daily at both Base Camp and its sister restaurants, California Burger Co. and Azul Latin Kitchen.

live-at-base-camp-art“We’ve been wanting to do this for a long time. I don’t even remember whose idea it was originally, but we’ve all been thinking about it because there’s such a great community of people here,” musician and California Burger Co. manager Jeff Connor said. “How cool would it be to make a live album that captures a little piece of every experience that you can have here at Base Camp?”

The concept became reality on a warm night in May, when Vinny Berry, John Munroe and Todd Christensen of Strange Weather, Connor, Jesse Kalin, Darren Senn, Mike “Mic” Smith, Roger Collins, and many other longtime South Shore musicians gathered to record a number of live, original tracks with sound engineer and musician Martin Shears (of the prominent musical duo Ike and Martin).

Shears and partner David Lawrie are two are co-owners and partners in a recording company, Ishikawa Onsite Mobile Recording Services. Lawrie won the 2016 Best Sound Design Award at the Nice Film Festival in Southern France for his work on the documentary “Of Shark and Man.”

The two set out to capture the full experience of a live Base Camp show, which was played outdoors in a stone-walled alcove that at times offers up some intriguing acoustics. A boisterous crowd of friends and fans filled the tables during the recording, providing the tracking with the sounds of an authentic live audience.

“It was actually a pretty interesting approach,” Shears said. “We treated it as if it was a live show, because it was a live show. So we recorded everything as if it were going into a mixing board for a P.A. system, but we also did some ambient mic’ing as well. We had a stereo microphone that captured the crowd, the sound of the concert in the alcove at Base Camp as well as the direct microphone and instrument inputs.”

Musicians were given two or three takes as needed, playing multiple songs or repeating the same track, with the best take headed for the album.

BaseCamp live albumThe album will be sold at the local restaurants and online, with all proceeds going to local charities. Co-owners Ted Kennedy and Ray Villaman work closely with a number of local benefits and non-profit groups, donating regular meals that provide food for the needy, and donating the weekly proceeds of BCP Co.’s Thursday Open Mic Nights to Bread and Broth.

“The album is dedicated to Ted Kennedy, because he’s created such a cool environment here, and it’s become like a community of musicians,” Connor said, crediting the owner with a large role in “reinventing and reinvigorating the Heavenly Village music scene, if not all of South Lake Tahoe.”

“There are so many places for musicians to play, you can make a pretty good living (playing music) in Tahoe. The music scene could be even better, but Ted has really been a big part of that,” Connor said.

About Josh Sweigert

Josh grew up on the California coast with a deep appreciation for bluegrass and string band music as well as the great outdoors. A guitarist and singer, he plays solo acoustic gigs in South Lake Tahoe.

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