By Lisa Lynn Morgan
Photo Credit: Andrew Stewart
If it’s a deep magic you seek, a place to glean from the collective creative energy that has drenched the walls over the decades, where some of rock and roll’s favorite sons and daughters have divined riffs on the very instruments from which you can now craft your own, Rancho De La Luna is your Holy Grail, and Dave Catching is your Merlin.
True to the founding vision from its earliest origins, Catching cultivates a relaxed recording environment, complete with inspirational sunsets, moonrises, and shooting stars. The scent of food on the grill, mingling in the night air with the aroma of fresh dark roasted coffee, becomes more of a home than a workplace, perfect for writing, recording solo or with full band, in tracking rooms overlooking the desert. Those tracking rooms are filled with wall-to-wall vintage instruments, amplifiers, and the legendary Rancho drum sound. The Rancho offers a warm analog sound that is just right for the recording artist with a discerning ear. It is Joshua Tree’s crowning jewel, at least where music is concerned.
Rancho De La Luna is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, so I caught up with Catching (a feat in itself, as he is in high demand these days). The result was a heartwarming stroll down memory lane that not only deepened my awe and respect toward the storied studio and its world-renowned accomplishments, but of its gracious, innately gifted, and dutiful custodian.
“I do feel that Rancho is a magical, extraordinary place,” Catching replied when asked what he thought made the place so special. “The owners have had the property since the early 70s and used to host parties with music and food, sharing joy with their friends in a beautiful alien environment. When Fred Drake moved here in 1992, it was to escape the city and start a new life where he could relax and enjoy a more peaceful existence. His dream of having a studio in Joshua Tree was realized when our friend, Dean Chamberlain, decided to sell his studio gear from the recording studio in Hollywood where Fred engineered, produced, and recorded his own music. It was called Dominion Sound, and it’s where Fred and I met when my band, Ringling Sisters, went there to record demos for a second album.”