Reidsville storefront recording studio thinks big [News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.]
(News & Record (Greensboro, NC) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Oct. 06--REIDSVILLE -- Walking past Upward Bound Recording Studios isn't hard to do.
The studio occupies a narrow space on Scales Street. It's nondescript and indistinguishable from other storefronts.
There are hints of what lies inside in the front display windows. Vintage audio equipment is mixed with images of famous musicians, including Miles Davis, Elvis Presley and singer and Dudley High School graduate Barbara Weathers from her days with Atlantic Starr.
There's also a publicity photo of Garry Percell with his guitar.
Percell, 55, is the owner of Upward Bound. He has been involved in the music business for more than 30 years.
The Reidsville native remembers listening to his older siblings' records in the basement and learning the parts.
He's toured with several acts, including one of his favorites, Chairmen of the Board.
Now, he wants to help others enjoy the kind of life he's been blessed to experience.
Percell opened Upward Bound in January after spending three years getting it ready.
The self-proclaimed old-school music man chose downtown Reidsville because it was accessible and saw a lot of traffic.
He also liked the storefront.
"I wanted a studio that wasn't so modern and commercial looking," Percell said. "But one that actually had that same kind of feel and atmosphere that the old greats used to record in."
Places such as Hitsville U.S.A., the Detroit studio that put Motown on the map. Or the Chess Records studios in Chicago that specialized in the blues.
Justin -- "Everyone calls me 'J'?" -- Johnson, Upward Bound's sound engineer, says that a studio's layout is important in recording.
Johnson says he's been in several contemporary studios filled with electronics that killed the creative vibe.
"It's a difference from recording at a doctor's office and recording at your house," Johnson said.
Upward Bound might have state-of-the-art equipment, but the studio is far from looking like a doctor's office. The lights are soft and set low, not harsh and glaring. The walls are red and colorful, not white and sterile.
Percell says his studio is more than a place for artists to come in and lay down tracks. He wants them to relax and to let their creativity flow.
While Percell learned the music business through years of touring and tinkering in the studio, Johnson took a different route.
The 26-year-old learned recording the way most people his age did -- by computer.
Johnson eventually moved to studios. He's been involved in several recordings, including "The Great Misdirect," a 2009 album from the Raleigh-based heavy metal band Between the Buried and Me.
He hooked up with Percell on a chance meeting and eventually signed on with Upward Bound.
The pairing might seem an odd fit.
Percell leans toward analog recording while Johnson came of age in the digital era.
"He likes to edit, which I don't like," Percell said, "and I like working the mix."
Also on board is Percell's wife, Janice, who handles most of the administrative duties.
Percell plans to have an Upward Bound record label. His son will handle that end of the business.
As for setting up a studio in Reidsville, Percell sees nothing odd about it.
Being away from the music scene gives an artist a chance to develop and work on material without too much meddling from industry suits.
Just look at Muscle Shoals, Ala., which wasn't known outside of the state until the arrival of Muscle Shoals Sound Studio.
Mitch Easter created Drive-In Studio in Winston-Salem during the 1980s, playing a big part in the indie music scene.
Upward Bound could have that kind of vibe one day.
"We're creating a buzz," Percell said. "People are starting to take notice."
?Contact Brad Kesler at 373-7060, and follow @Brad_Kesler on Twitter.
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