January 2004
Bungling In The Jungle

Studio Life in the Third World: a memoir

by Paul D. Lehrman

Okay, kids, it's the longest night of the year, so it's time to gather 'round the simulated virtual fireplace and I'll tell you some more stories from the bad old days, when I started out in this here recording business. It was 25 years ago this month when my girlfriend and I boarded a plane at JFK International Airport for Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, for my first full-time gig as a recording engineer.

I was lucky, or perhaps unlucky, enough to start at the top. Unlike most of the folks you read about in this magazine, I didn't break into the studio biz as the assistant ashtray-emptier at a great metropolitan studio, nor did I open my own little 8-track studio and record local bands at loss-leader prices until one of them signed with Columbia Records. No, my first studio job was as the manager and chief engineer of a beautiful, brand-new 24-track recording facility. The reason I got the gig was, well, because everyone else in New York had turned it down. They must have known something -- either about the owners or about the joys of running a high-tech operation in the Third World -- that I didn't.

Actually, this story should have happened 25 years ago last month, but life in the Caribbean being what it is, we had to wait for things like a freight handler's strike at the airport to be settled, and delays in getting work visas and import licenses for our household goods, all aggravated by phone service that was, to put it very politely, spotty.

The rest of this column, along with 56 more, is now available in The Insider Audio Bathroom Reader, published by Thomson Course Technology PTR.

Copyright ©2006 by Paul D. Lehrman