Pepperbox Studio Grand Opening in Lincoln VT

Summer 2023 


Back from Italy for a short visit, singer-songwriter Freya Yost joined us for an intensive week of overdubs, and some experimental song-writing with co-writer and multi-instrumentalist Lutalo Jones. Also assisting with harmony parts: her sister, Anna!  

Freya's album has been coming together this past year, and I continue to be delightfully engaged with the power of her imagery as a writer, and slam dunk vocals.

This is a perfect example of why we built a cottage next to the studio building, for artists in need of lodging during their stay. Our post & beam tiny house is a cozy refuge for time out while on the road, and allows for more continuity during the process of developing an album.

We've come a long way since our initial live tracking session last winter, with keyboardist Ray Paczkowski, and drummer/percussionist Jeff Berlin. That set the tone for many of our arrangements, and made it easier to envision where future additions to the track list would land in the mix.

Special thanks also to Lutalo, who brought us a whole new way of thinking about Freya's newest song: Ordinary Chains. I confess their creative force as a duo has me wondering what the future might bring.

Look for Freya's album release around Christmas 2023!



The Guardian said this about Lutalo: “Adrianne Lenker’s Vermont-based cousin displays a similar lo-fi magnetism, with a gentle acoustic style offset by unsettling lyrics”. What I can add to this is that Lutalo is real, in the sense that who he is as a human is very much who he is in his music. Not only does he bring his exceptional musicality to Pepperbox Studio, but he has been a major player in the re-imagining of this place, as an artist's space for creativity and learning, openness, and generosity of spirit.

Lutalo and his long time cohort and co-producer Patrick Hintz have been actively involved with Pepperbox behind the scenes, trouble-shooting and lending a hand. 

One day this might look like labeling microphone wall inputs, or downloading new programs, such as Ableton, or updating our plugins, on a second studio computer, and work station.

Another day, it might look like sitting on the outdoor deck with guitars, swapping ideas, and sketching our a production to be executed later in the evening.


A recording studio is only as good as the musicians it attracts. On this score, I feel extremely fortunate to be developing a working relationship - and friendship - with these two amazing people!



A five-day retreat, long over-due, for the Cousins. Our 2nd album was half done when all heck broke loose in the world (2020), and it's been a long road to getting back in the studio. 

We worked night and day to recover unfinished recordings, in files, on drives, hastily captured as phone voice memos and “as remembered”, from the last time we were in the same place at the same time.

Singer-songwriter Steve Mayone is the consummate professional, often seen on tour with Kate Taylor (James's sister) or with his own band: “Bastards of Fine Arts”, out of Brooklyn NY.  He is, in fact, my cousin.        


The third “Cousin” in our project is not related, per se, but perhaps best described as a “spirit animal” because the magic he brings to us is truly mythic in its influence. 

This is drummer & percussionist Jeff Berlin, of course. He builds a foundation like no other, for our eclectic song repertoire. 

And often while Steve and I are agonizing over having used the same word twice in our lyrics, he is busy creating a kingdom of sound, wherein the song can thrive and rise out of it's ordinariness. 



Johnne's new album “Wild Rivers” is in the works at Pepperbox this summer, a collection of new songs from a great guitar player & prolific songwriter, hailing from the hills of South Starksboro.

Locals have likely heard him play in fields, on bandstands, back porches, or at one particular (epic) barn party, he and his friends produce each summer. 

He's also the man behind much of the studio's unique wood-working details & carpentry. Now that's a whole other story we'll have to tell you some day!

“Wild Rivers” is shaped and driven by Johnne's strong, melodic guitar style, on both acoustics and electrics.  His songs dance between complex voicings, catchy hooks and subtly colored, heart-centric vocals. Never a dull moment, and I've loved working on it.

 Stay tuned for a release date this fall! 



This album project was one of the first of the year, but I seem to have missed posting it here on the main website. So, let me introduce Mark Pelletier, who recorded his first solo album at Pepperbox earlier this year, and did such a stellar job of coming in prepared with his own arrangements and instrumentation, that I can honestly say I sat back a bit, and didn't have to stick my nose in too far.

He's been a working musician for a long time, and knows what he likes, and knows what he can do. Backed by his own solid, country-style guitar playing, the narrative of his lyrics really got to shine!

I was immediately pulled into the stories his songs tell: about farming, and rural living, about being in a bar band, and being a good friend. About working things out in a love relationship; about the beauty and grandeur of simple things, and nature.

Joined by bandmates and friends for several tracks, he kept his productions spare, and effective. I love the end result! 

Check it out on Spotify:

Winter 2023 

Now that I've finally broken my habit of calling the classic B3 organ a "B12" [I'm a vegetarian], I'm happy to report more accurately that we've officially reopened the studio in its new location, at 1200 French Settlement Road, in Lincoln, VT. Even though we've been recording all along, our move into the new building is a momentous occasion.

I'd first like to thank a few people, who have stood by me and helped me keep the momentum going, during a very challenging construction phase. Notably, my building angels include master musician & carpenter John Dickason, sons/carpenters Wilder & GusYost, daughter Anna Snipes and her significant other, the creative woodworker Pete Terwilliger, all around get-it-done partner in crime, jack-of-all-trades Logan Rotax, design & build artisan/neighbor Matthew Lee, and my plumber Dean Preston, and electrician Tim LaFrambois. Not to mention friend & ally Jeff Richards, who donated barn board he salvaged in NH, material that now graces an amazing set of hand-constructed venue walls.

Add to that list, incredible volunteers who showed up for a grueling work day of insulation/ceiling installation: Glo Webel, Jamie Gage, Suzan Seymour, Nikki Lee, Barry Gerard, Lutalo Jones, Kenna Lee, & Donald Brumfield. While a lot of these epic moments seem to get swept away in the frantic push to meet immediate goals, the camaraderie and good will of all these folks will never be forgotten by me. Our neighborly pot luck after work, warmed by a wood stove fire, and the passionate conversations between friends old, and new, will live on in the timbers and newly painted walls, of a now beautiful space, created by many hands. Thank you, dear friends! and including several spouses who supported from behind the scenes, and those who were involved in the initial design phases, like Stefan Jacobs, and Jeff Berln.

Nikki Lee, Matthew Lee, Barry Gerard & Jamie Gage

Our first session in the new building brought Migmar Tsering, Tibetan songwriter & musician, into the studio. He found us thanks to Vermont Public's folk DJ, Robert Resnik. who accompanied him as co-producer. It was the perfect start for our fledgling space. Migmar is a calm, friendly, good humored and powerful performer. It was sheer pleasure to get lost in the landscape of his songs. Despite a new heating system that was not fully cooperating, blasting too much heat and gurgling like a mountain stream, Migmar and Co. helped me not freak out, or worry too much about what was beyond our control. I can't wait to settle into our next session, coming up later this week. The room is more prepared for him, and I will be happier, to know I can set everyone at ease without doing back flips.


Migmar Tsering, with Robert ResnikMigmar Tsering

Next session: cutting basic tracks for singer-songwriter Freya Yost's first album, with keyboard player Ray Paczkowski [Soule Monde; Trey Anastasio], and drummer Jeff Berlin [Jeffrey Foucault; Bow Thayer]. In two days we tracked 7 songs, then followed up a few days later, with guitar tracks for another three. The photos really do tell the story!



It was also my pleasure to bring my production tool-kit to the Underground Studio in Randolph VT in December, and work with the amazing Vincent Freeman for the first time. I'd heard so many glowing reports about Vincent's engineering skills, as well as his "great human" status, from my client singer songwriter Jamie Gage, who has hosted a live stream concert series with Vincent, going on now a couple years. Let's just say, he did not disappoint :). We brought in keyboard/B3 organ player Ray Paczkowski with bandmate [Soule Monde} drummer Russ Lawton, and worked on several of Jamie's original songs, hashing out arrangements and tweaking the groove, to get just the right feel. Here are a couple snapshots of that session; kudos to the Underground for having a freight elevator to bring in gear!!



What's up next at Pepperbox Studio? Mark Pelletier of the Hayburners starts work on his solo project this month, ditto Rebecca Turmel, working with producer Jim Yeager, and an acoustic-oriented new album from John Dickason is planned to break ground in February. Ongoing, we'll be expanding tracks with Migmar Tsering, and finishing production on Freya Yost's album, with long distance help from guitarists Val McCallum and Steve Mayone.

We look forward to a grand opening/open house in late winter/early spring ... until then, please contact me to schedule a studio visit, if you are interested in our recording, editing or mixing services!





Winter 2022 

COMING SOON: The New Pepperbox Studio















The studio is finally open again! Just an hour as the crow flies from our old location, and big things are happening. Thanks to a loan from the Northfield Savings Bank, we are nearing completion on a new, two story building, nestled under the Long Trail, in the mountain town of Lincoln, VT. 
















You guessed right - that's an isolation booth! As you can see, these areas are still under construction, so I've set up shop for the interim, in a spacious 26' x 26' room in my house, which will eventually be connected to the studio, via the "Sky Bridge". My rack is back together, and though for a while my gear was spread far and wide, it's now installed temporarily, in this very cozy, comfortable space. Graced with high ceilings and views of the mountains, now all we need are musicians. Please contact me directly to book time here, or to set up long distance work, such as mixing and editing. I am very excited to get back to work at this wonderful spot: another dead end road hide-away, which is literally on Vermont's Catamount Ski Trail!


GIMME SHELTER ... and a warm welcome within.

The opportunity to provide lodging for artists, as well as to x-country skiers and snow shoe enthusiasts, is something I've always dreamed of & it's finally going to become a reality, here in this quiet, back country location. Thanks to an incredibly generous community of friends and family, we were able to construct both a yurt, and a small guest cottage for just this purpose. Take a look! 



LIFE LEADS THE THOUGHTFUL MAN ... on a path of many windings.

So says the Tao-Te-Ching. And in case there is still any question as to what I have been doing for the last two years of madness on the planet, suffice it to say that I've been plotting all this, and making endless trips in my Chevy Silverado pickup truck back & forth over the mountains, moving boxes & furniture, picking up building materials, sinks and stoves, and working outdoors as much as I can as Gardenessa, to keep myself afloat. And of course adjusting to being dislocated, caught between ever-changing state "health" mandates, & my own personal process of moving from a town I'd lived in for close to 30 years. My decision to stand firmly, in the light of what I believe makes us and keeps us healthy, has not been an easy road. But in the end, I've felt continually blessed, many times over, to be working on this project with all kinds of folks, with all kinds of opinions, so that nothing surprises or scares me anymore. I say let's get on with life, and do what we do best: which is to create loving, supportive environments for enlightened living, and make truly beautiful art! xo


Winter 2020 

A NEW YEAR: Wrapping Up 2019

I can't believe it's been a year since I last posted any "News", but that should tell you a lot about how 2019 went. It did not let up much, on all fronts. I took on some extra outdoor jobs, doing my Gardenessa gig and had to contend with the insect population (ticks) to the extent that it overshadowed my life and became a war to stay healthy. Anyway, I made it through, & produced lots of music in the studio, despite struggles out in the field. And - I finished my first book of poetry.


RIDGERUNNER: Poems, lyrics ... how different are they?

Very! A poem floats in space, on a blank page, not anchored by music. This project started with a grant application I made to the Vermont Community Foundation, back in 2017, and I times, i thought I'd never finish. I had to get an extension for another year, ostensibly because I arbitrarily picked "100 poems" as my goal - and that's a lot of poems! Finally, after many manuscript revisions and book design issues,  we have a book!

You can order it online here or if you prefer, get it directly from me.  This paperback edition (featured above) is perfectly affordable at $15;  whereas the fancier hardcover, with full color photos to match each of my 100 poems, is more pricey - and can be pre-ordered here.


BONES OF THE HEART: Uplifting, humorous .... and quintessential Davey!

This record came out on the Thunder Ridge label last summer, just in time for Davey to take physical copies with him to California where he had an art exhibition featuring his amazing photography. As with all major projects, we called in the troops to help us put finishing touches on & those highlights make this album a lot of fun. For example, harp player Pete Meijer did some great playing!


[Pete Meijer]

[Bow Thayer]

And Bow Thayer, ditto, playing - whatever that thing is ... a steel guitar!


[Jim Pitman; Davey Davis]

And pedal steel player extraordinaire, Jim Pitman, always a pleasure to work with Jim!  You can listen to or buy Davey's album here, he's undoubtedly one of Vermont's most original songwriters - and a damn good singer! I've never heard a voice like his, rich and expressive, and totally without pretension.

As I was producing  this album, I ended up playing on it, and one of my favorite tracks and one that I'm super proud of, is "Ghost of the Chateauguay" which is loosely based on local history & things that happened a long time ago in the towns of Bridgewater and Barnard, Vermont. Davey's a woods rambler and deer hunter from since he was a kid, so his grasp on rural ways is authentic. We've posted it up here for you to listen, on Soundcloud.

[Kristina Stykos; photo by Jack Rowell]

RIVER OF LIGHT: A new solo album from Kristina .. that's me!

Yes, my new album is out and it was just designated the #2 in the County Tracks "Best Vermont Albums of 2019". That sure was a lot of work! I'm kicking back a little, which means I'm gearing up to start on a few more albums that are personal to me, including a new Cousins Project album, a new Ariel Zevon album and an instrumental album, featuring my acoustic guitar work. You can hear/buy tracks from the album in the Music section of this website.



SONGS FROM A DYNAMIC DUO: Kara and Andy Lake release their new album!

I'm happy to announce that we had so much fun making this album, that we almost didn't want the process to end. But you have to end it, to put out an album. And so we did. But looking back, I treasure so much about working with Kara and Andy, who go by the stage name: Jennings and McComber. Best of luck to them!


[Andy Lake]

[Kara Lake]


VIDEO: In support of Val McCallum's new album "Chateauguay" 

[Val McCallum]

Val is a regular here at Pepperbox Studio, and contributed a lot of amazing guitar, bass and vocal parts for my new album, River of Light. So I jumped at the opportunity to do something in support of his new album, Chateauguay, coming out at about the same time.

In 2019, I put these videos together for Val McCallum. Check it out! His songs tell poignant stories to tell, and the photos he gave me to work with brought tears to my eyes, every time.


[Charlie's Coal & Brothers}


BACK FROM BLUE HILL, MAINE: Ben Pfohl, guitar ace, raconteur & humorist

                                     [Ben Pfohl]

Living an international life in three countries, songwriter & performer Ben Pfohl managed to spend enough time in Vermont this last year to almost finish his upcoming album; surprisingly his first official, full-length recording! Despite exercising virtuosic proficiency on his instruments, and a well honed, articulate songcraft, Ben has successfully avoided being caught "in perpetuity" - but 2020 will change that, I'm happy to report!

As part of Ben's project, the studio was also graced with visits and contributions in 2019 from bassist Pat Melvin, pianist Henry Finch, and Sarah Rosenbaum, Ben's partner, a talented singer. We expect to be finishing up this album in 2020, with a little more help from our friends, adding more bass & some drums to the mix. Can't wait to wrap and share this with the world! Ben is a great songwriter, and this is going to be a popular album.


                                      [Pat Melvin]



These guys won me over, not that I need to be won over, but it's always nice to feel immediately at home in the company of strangers. Actually, I had met Patridge (Buzz) Boswell in his alternate incarnation as director of the Lebanon NH Opera House years ago, when I hung around there as a performer, presenter and all around back-stage groupie. Since those days gone by, we have both done a lot of growing and changing, so it was almost like meeting him for the first time - and we have way more in common now than I ever suspected we could.

Enter Peter Money and Nat Williams, two heart-centric, brilliant creatives, to round out the band. Using mostly their own entirely stunning poetry, and a few stolen lyrics from other poets, they weave songs that are sometimes spoken, sometimes sung. I could not wait to get into the mixing process, to spend more time listening to what they had to say. We'll be finishing up these pieces to release an album this month, and the result should be stellar.


[Peter Money, Nat Williams, Kristina Stykos, Patridge Boswell]


OLD FRIENDS: The celtic guitars of Pam Bockes & Leed Brewer

These two musical associates have been plying their finger-picking trades for many years in the Montpelier area, playing coffee houses, wineries, parties & special events and it was a treat to finally catch up with them, and see how their sound has evolved. Wow! The interplay and flow of these two gorgeous guitars being played in tandem utilizing a tasteful, lyrical repertoire, leaves us enchanted. Theirs is not easy material to master, and they support each other with such grace and good humor, I can't imagine a better pairing! We rushed this collection of 11 tunes into production for holiday dispersal, but not without first taking time to balance and add fairy dust. It went out the door with a smile and a nod ... as I imagined all their happy friends receiving such a fine gift!


[Pam Bockes]

[Leeds Brewer, Pam Bockes]

Fall 2018 

RIVER OF LIGHT: The Final Push


With all the things going on in my life this year, it was hard to imagine

how I'd ever find the time to finish my 7th solo album, "River of Light".

Here are the wonderful, amazing folks who made it happen. They not 

only played & sang, but co-created arrangements with me on the fly,

as we worked together in the studio and also long distance.

 [Jeff Berlin]

[Abby Jenne]

[Steve Mayone]

[Val McCallum]

[Patrick Ross]

 So what's happening now? After several false starts, the "River of Light"

mixes have made their way to Avatar Studios in NYC, and are in good

hands with mastering engineer Fred Kevorkian. As of this writing, they

are scheduled to be done. This final stage of adding professional ears

and polish to my musical productions is both terrifying and a big relief.

He hears my mistakes as well as the good stuff. And he tells me. For

some reason, this album threw a lot of technical curve balls,

right at the end. I went through weeks of corrections, mostly small, but

in one case a total restructuring of a song was necessary. That's why I

try to work with the best people I can find. Getting things to this level is

not for the faint of heart.

HAUSNER, COANE & PITMAN: Old Time Country Done Right


 [Carol Hausner]


As part of my ongoing album project with Carol Hausner, I had the pleasure

of live recording her trio with Danny Coane [guitar & vocals] and Jim Pitman

[dobro]. What a fantastic sound, between the harmony singing and old time

picking! We're looking forward to bringing a few more of Vermont's local

luminaries into studio this winter, and I'm excited to hear Carol's vision

coming to fruition. Truly, this kind of hand-crafted record making is a labor

of love, and takes a lot of commitment to pull off! Thanks to all who contribute

their time and care to preserve this art form.




[Danny Coane, Carol Hausner, Jim Pitman]


THE ELUSIVE GIG: Continuing Adventures with Ariel & Others

[Kristina Stykos, Ariel Zevon, Linda Warnaar - photo by Bow Thayer]


Check out Bob's Place, a.k.a. the old Windsor Farmer's Exchange!


It's at the end of Depot Ave., just across the tracks from Windsor Station.

Now I'd say it's the coolest, unknown venue in Vermont, but then again

I'm biased, since the guy who owns it and renovated it is my buddy, Bob

Haight. Bob is an architect, designer and all around amazing guy. This mini

festival occurred in July.


Now I often get asked if I gig. Kind of, sometimes, I do. It's less fun since

I've been struggling with vocal issues, but I never say never. Depends on

who wants me to do it, or pressures me to do it. And if the numerous hours

of rehearsal time & drive time can justify the cause. And if I can bring

something special to the table. I know what I'm good at, and what

I'm not good at.


So Ariel, Linda and I played this gig at Bob's Place, and before that,

in June, opened for Dar Williams at Chandler Music Hall. It's a joy to

play at the Chandler under any conditions; it's a great venue.


Other than that, I was asked to play at the campaign kick-off for John Obrien,

who is running for state rep from Tunbridge. Go John! It's not quite my voting

district but if you know my radio show, 11th Hour Radio , you'll know that

John's wife Emily is my co-host. It was a great night of playing until my

fingers froze .. because it was October & chilly in the barn but I was having too

much fun with fiddlers Steve Muise and Butch Howe, to notice!


[Steve Muise, Kristina Stykos, Butch Howe]


NEW FROM ABRIAL: Songs That Make You Think A Little Off-Planet

[Abrial; a.k.a. Caitlin Pomerantz]


After she recorded her album "Take Shelter" here at Pepperbox Studio in 2014,

I didn't see Caitlin for a while. I later heard her life took her to busk on

the streets of Nashville, then at some point back to Hawaii, and then on to

Indonesia. So I sure am glad that when she had a scant week or so back here

in Vermont, she wanted to nail down some new material - for us to develop

towards a new EP. Honestly, I won't be surprised one day, to see Caitlin standing

side-by-side future President Tulsi Gabbard, fielding questions as her press

secretary.  This is totally within the realm of possibility. However, in the meantime,

we have a few songs to get out!


LOST AT SEA: Ryan Clayton

[Ryan Clayton]

Sometimes people come to the studio in unexpected ways, and I'd say Ryan

fits this description, although now I can clearly how the seed was planted,

that led us to this remarkable juncture. Ryan Clayton: political activist,  skilled

media commentator, troll-in-chief targeting Donald J. Trump literally from

the moment he was elected until Ryan's life was radically changed by PTSD, and

a near-death experience in the waters off Indonesia. You can read all about it

here. We met by chance a few years ago, when he randomly found my Airbnb

rooms-for-rent online. He didn't know at the time he was going to become a




Fast forward to this fall, when he arrived, sheaf of papers in hand and a plan for

action: not political this time, but musical. We worked a good, long 12 hour day

which included ideas coming via cell phone from his brother Chad, to complete

a song about healing and emotional safety. For his first time singing in front of a

microphone, the results were amazing. Stay posted!


BONES OF THE HEART: A New Album on the Horizon from Davey Davis

[Davey Davis]

[Val McCallum, Pooh Sprague]

[Jeff Berlin]



[Pooh Sprague, Val McCallum, Jeff Berlin]


[Davey Davis, Val McCallum, Pooh Sprague]

[Val McCallum, Jeff Berlin, Pooh Sprague, Davey Davis]

Pictures often tell the best story, and here you see another epic gathering

of the clan, live tracking with Davey Davis [vocals], Val McCallum [guitars],

Pooh Sprague [bass] and Jeff Berlin [drums]. We tracked four songs that day

that were downright funky and fun! An additional day was added with drummer

Jeffrey Yurek of Claremont, NH to track a few more.

[Jeffrey Yurek]

I can't wait to get current with work on this record, so y'all can hear it! Davey's

new album, "Bones of the Heart" is almost completely tracked, waiting for "yours

truly" to get back to it, add a few parts and put it all together. Stay posted!


TWO DOLLAR WOMAN: Singer-Songwriter Ben Reed's Album is Here!


Nothing makes me happier than to finish an album and be able to post the

beautiful album artwork here. Congratulations to Thunder Ridge Records'

recording artist Ben Reed of Billings, MT!!! - for all his hard work and creativity

which has resulted in this unique album of cowboy songs, poignant love songs,

songs about life and ... a song about Jim Morrison of the Doors!! A thrill

to produce thanks to Ben's concept & Patrick Ross's magnificent string work!

The album includes a gorgeous 16 page booklet and many of Ben's stunning

photographs of wildlife and landscapes in and around his home out west.

You can buy his album here.


Spring 2018 


The daffodils are up and last night we took a quick trip to Boston at

the invitation of Jackson Browne, who made room in his show at the

Blue Hills Pavilion for Ariel to perform a couple of her songs from

"The Detangler". I'd say they treated us right, but that doesn't nearly

describe it. This group of hard-working music people has a collective

heart of gold. Here are a few photos:

 Ariel Zevon with guitar tech David

Ariel Zevon, Val McCallum and Greg Leisz

Kristina Stykos, Jeff Young, Jackson Browne and Ariel Zevon

Jackson Browne and Kristina Stykos



There's so much going on in the studio! Kara and Andy Watters Lake,

a.k.a. Jennings and McComber, have been hard at work laying tracks

for their new album, an acoustic masterpiece.

 Kara and Andy Watters Lake

 Andy Lake and son Sam

 Kara Watters Lake

Kara and Andy bring so much joy into the room, I don't know what I'll

do when they finally are done recording and leave. But leave they must,

for the world needs this album, full of soaring hopes and dazzling dreams.

Their original songs that they sing as a duo out and about Vermont present

a powerful dose of human kindness, compassion & craft. I am so excited

and honored to be producing this with them!


 Andy Lake


Although we talked about Ben doing an album years ago, we did not

make the commitment to it until this year. Now he's unstoppable or

rather his songs are unstoppable as they come often careening,

sometimes elegantly flowing, out of his dynamic vintage Gibson

guitar and his gravelly, expressive voice.

 Ben Pfohl

There is a lot of angular,cowboy poetry here, blunt and graspable, with

a poignancy and drive all its own. I'm proud to be producing this album

with Ben, as I help him shape his top notch performances into recordings,

featuring his impeccable writer's skills and punchy country pickin'.

Ben Pfohl


What an incredible pleasure to finally be working & hanging out with

an artist I'd heard about for a long time but never really gotten to know.

Carol's well known in bluegrass circles for her gorgeous high lonesome singing

style and fine songwriting. Now don't I know it!


Carol Hausner

Getting inside the song is what it's all about, and Carol's encouraged me

to add some parts - on mandolin, bass or whatever works, so it's getting

more fun by the minute! We've been entertaining guest appearances

by her musical friends, including Jonathan Kaplan ("the doctor"), Danny

Coane, and Rachel Sucher, which keeps it lively and interesting around here.


 Carol Hausner and Rachel Sucher

A few of the songs lean folk-wards, and I've had a great time employing

the multiple voices of my many guitars, each with it's own special personality

and sound. This record should be done in a few months, and I'm pretty excited

to be producing it with Carol!

Winter 2018 

From the Producer's Desk: Welcome to my World!


Yes, lately I've been wearing out my producer's hat. With so many

amazing artists and interesting projects, there's not enough time in

the day. Eventually it comes: the need for balance. The time to regroup,

breathe & leave space. To waste time and not just fill it. This is the way

back to my own most personal work.

Big thanks to my cousin Steve Mayone who drove up after a gig in

Boston recently, to spend the weekend laying down tracks for my next

solo CD, an almost forgotten, left by the wayside affair, put off on the

side of the road due to my scrambling efforts to recover from a divorce,

get back on my feet financially and stabilize enough to return to

my core focus. Why does it have to be so hard sometimes?

Who would divorce me, right? I look pretty nice. Just to make things

more exciting, I lost my voice. Oh, I know. I've been saying that about

my singing voice for a while, and you thought I was just being coy.

Actually, I have a degenerative neurological condition called S.D., or

Spasmodic Dysphonia. It was getting so bad last fall, I began to totally

freak out. I was fortunate enough to run across one of the premier

speech therapists who help people deal with this, on Youtube. On the

spot, I contacted her and scheduled a session with her. It was either

get help, or crawl into a hole and die.

So I dropped everything I was doing, and took three weeks to drive to

Atlanta, GA. I was able to finally get solid support and understanding for

this unbelievably difficult vocal issue, caused by deep-seated and long

standing emotional trauma, and made worse at every turn by fear &

the isolating effects of being unable to speak.

That is the mysterious crossroads where I find myself, sorely tested,

thankful to have work , coming to terms with my new voice, curious to

experiment with it. I accept that I'll likely never sing or speak

again in silken tones. But my voice reflects one person's journey

to unravel and uncover layers of sublimated abuse. Fly, ragged bird -

beyond the spotlight or the stage! Pray your wings take you to the

realm of the truth tellers, where you can tell an honest story.

I have many friends who keep showing up to help me do just that.

One in particular is songwriter & guitarist Val McCallum.

He lives in L.A. but spent a bunch of his childhood years in West Windsor,

Vermont, also known as Brownsville. I can say from first hand experience,

Brownsville has some magic, and a singular mountain in the middle of it.

The clans that hale from there carry a unique weight in the Vermont

music scene. It was my best friend musician Davey Davis born & raised

on Mt. Ascutney who introduced me to Val. What a great collaborator

I've found in Val. My new solo album features his playing, singing &

many of his production ideas. Our time in the studio together and

long distance working relationship has helped keep my creative light




Fall 2017 

From the Producer's Desk: The Detangler by Ariel Zevon


Okay, I'm not going to sound a trumpet or anything but I am going to

wink at the cat because - we got it done! This much awaited collection

of 16 original songs by Ariel Zevon recorded and produced upstairs 

is all shrink-wrapped up and ready for distribution. And so comes the

snow & the wood fires are burning. With the advent of winter, we are

excited to present this, our latest creative effort: The Detangler. 

If you want, download it now at CD Baby.

Val McCallum (guitar) & Pappy Biondo (banjo) at Pepperbox Studio

Patrick Ross (fiddle) and Ariel Zevon [Photo by Mark Collier]


Kristina Stykos and Ariel Zevon at Pepperbox Studio, 2017 [Photo by Mark Collier]


Spring/Summer 2017 

From the Producers Desk: Meeting our Funding Goal

It's true, we reached out Kickstarter goal of $5,000 and

are now moving into the final stages of recording and mixing

Ariel's album, The Detangler. To those who donated, we can't

thank you enough for your support and kind words. The

process of making contact with people who care about our

music is essential to keeping our spirits high and our creativity

flowing. Nourishment of all types is necessary to make it through

something as hard as making a record.I guess that's why Ariel

never walks into Pepperbox Studio without baskets of things

like fresh goat milk chevre, raw honey and fresh baked macaroons.

We try to stay healthy and keep our lives balanced, while staying

true to the music that wants to be made.

Thanks to some of our favorite session players: drummer

Matt Musty [Grace Potter] & guitarist Val McCallum [Jackson Browne]

for bringing generous amounts of good will and skillful musicianship

to the project. Their time and energy pushed us to a new level

at a time when we needed it most. Thanks also to new friends:

trumpet player Gary Hubbard and vocalist Abby Jenne whose

talents have been refreshing and dynamic in all the right ways.

This is an album with edge and style, largely defined by the

songwriter but then quadrupled in artistry by these players. Truly

a collaborative experiment that has kept us surprised at

every twist and turn. 

As producer and primary session musician (gulp!) for this project,

my hours in the studio can be long and nail biting. Being a bit of a

perfectionist, i want to get things right and sometimes that means

dismantling a song & putting it back together in a new way. Ariel

has been very patient with my process, and the results speak for

themselves. Figuring out what I feel in response to her music and

how I want to shape my conversation with it often involves opening

every stringed instrument case in the studio. Each guitar has a

different voice and the microphones play a part. I'm grateful to be

on a high with my learning curve, still challenged but really enjoying

the outcomes of my intuitive approach to arranging. 

What's left now for me are a few more overdubs, and lots of

mixing angst. This is where the rubber hits the road. I'm looking

forward to getting everything wrapped up by the end of the summer,

at which time the whole kit and caboodle will go to our mastering

engineer in New York City. Stay tuned and we'll report back when

we go to press. Yes, we are making a physical CD, even though

it's starting to be considered old fashioned. A real thing in your

hand is really nice to have, even if it is symbolic, or considered a

souvenir. We still like 'em.

[Ariel Zevon and Val McCallum]

[Dave Keller and Kristina Stykos]

Congratulations to songwriter and performer Robert Bryant upon completion of his double album recorded here at Pepperbox Studio over the last year and a half! His collection of songs is titled "Back Road Benevolence" and spans two disks, each produced with its own distinct flavor and production style. Disk One, "Heart of the Hill" is a group of songs Robert put in my hands to arrange, with additional musical contributions from fiddler Patrick Ross, vocalist Nikki Matheson and Robert's daughter Caileigh. Disk Two, "As Far As We Know", features the collaborative work of Robert and blues guitarist Dave Keller, which I captured live here at Pepperbox in a couple sessions. Really great stuff and much beautiful effort from all participants thanks to Robert's persistent and loving guidance. He truly had a vision here, and made sure we got it to the finish line.


 [Davey Davis]

Davey's album Bones of the Heart is moving along, with the planning stages for a live weekend recording session in the works, to cover all the basic tracks to this 13 songs CD. After charting everything out from Davey's remarkable home-spun demos, we decided to start with a basic trio of bass, drums and rhythm guitar and work upwards from there. Spending a solid two day listening retreat was exactly what I needed to gain insight into what makes these songs tick. I had to figure out some of the key pieces that make up his signature sound, a funky groove that Davey has honed after years of working alone in his home studio. Coming away from that I found myself meditating on a little Willie Nelson, a little Buddy Holly, and a handful of something psychoactive. The deceptively simple language and smooth vocal delivery that comes so naturally to Davey somehow packs in a powerful message. So I'll be excited to be in the studio soon with Davey, his brothers Jeff and Rick, and drummer Jeff Berlin. We'll see what we can do to serve up this incredible songwriter's vision in a new, more potent cocktail.

[Deb Langstaff and Megan Henderson]

In April, I took some of  my recording gear on a road trip and headed to Providence RI, then Boston MA, to record two musicians who have worked together for years and recently embarked on an amazing project. Deborah Langstaff, who some may know as the daughter of John Langstaff, founder of Revels, has taken her life-long study of the poems of German poet Hilde Domin and applied it to the creation of songs using her own [Deb's] translations, approved by the poet before her death in 2006. Trying out the compositions together for the first time, Deb and pianist Megan Henderson were able to lay out the groundwork for this incredibly moving song cycle in one short weekend.  I was the fly on the wall, catching each take with rapt attention as it went whizzing by. Watching these two seasoned performers iron out their arrangements was awe inspiring. Did I mention we ate well? Somehow there was also time for dinners at the local Indian restaurant. For what is music without food? Deb and I will be mixing phase one of the project in Vermont in June, at Pepperbox Studio.