“I grew up in the San Joaquin Valley of California. My folks were country music fans who used to go dancing to Buck Owens and Merle Haggard at the Big Fresno Barn and the Hacienda on Highway 99. When I moved to Morongo Valley 15 years ago, I built the studio myself into a barn and 4-car garage.”
Red Barn Recorders has the unique capacity to use a blend of old-school analog and contemporary digital technologies. “I have an MCI analog recording console, and a 16 and 24 track tape recorders that date from the 80s, as well as Pro Tools HD,” Gar explains. “I have a great collection of classic microphones (over 30 of them) and vintage outboard gear.”
Renowned artists such as Kirsty McGee, Louise Goffen, Alain Johannes, Tim Easton, Victoria Williams, Danny Frankel, Yawning Man, Jay Bellerose, Louisiana Love Act, Mike Watt, Bill Bloomer, Seb Rochford, Martin Craft, Nathan Newburn, and Jolie Holland have enjoyed Red Barn Recorders niche.
Popular local musicians have also benefited from Gar’s expertise: Son of the Velvet Rat, Wally Ingram, Bobby Furgo, Arroyo Rogers, Mark Olson, Robbie Robb, Rosa Pullman, Adobe Collective, The Sibleys, Urban Desert Cabaret (Joe City Garcia), Petra Cimbalova, Ryan Post, 3rd Ear Experience, Rags Rosenberg, The Renderers, Megan Hutch, T.K. Smith, and Josh Kjerstad.
Joe City Garcia (Urban Desert Cabaret) shared his first experience as a local musician at the Barn: “I first encountered Gar in late 2013 when he led Pappy and Harriet’s Sunday Band. I was in awe of his (and the band’s) talent and energy, and I also heard he had one of the best studios in the high-dez—it was intimidating! It wasn’t until May 2016 that I got the chance to work with him at the Barn. I had a solo European tour booked, and I desperately needed a new release to promote along the tour. Thinking I probably couldn’t afford the more established Red Barn, I was calling around to find a ‘home’ studio that could accommodate my needs and budget. I found everyone was already booked or traveling. About to give up, I called Gar figuring, “no way, but what the hell!’ Fortunately, Gar was available, and I found him to be a creative and generous artist/producer. He quickly familiarized himself with my material and helped me set up minimalist arrangements and an accelerated production schedule. Within 2 weeks, I had a 10-song album, Shadow of a Ghost, mixed and ready for delivery in time for the tour! Since then, we’ve done a few other projects and several great shows together. I’m no longer intimidated, but still in awe, and full of life-long gratitude for brotha’ Gar and Red Barn Recorders!”
High praise and respect abound throughout the basin, but no one writes a better love letter about the Barn than Gar himself:
“Drive East on the 10 Freeway out of Los Angeles for two hours. The housing developments gradually fall away, replaced by enormous 3-bladed wind turbines 300 feet high. They decorate the hillsides and plains, gracefully turning in the wind silently and cleanly producing electricity. Take the Joshua Tree exit off the 10 on to Highway 62. A dozen miles from there, through a mountain pass and a 1/2 mile down a dirt road is RED BARN RECORDERS. An aural oasis. A place to turn visions into reality via recording equipment and techniques that were born in the late ‘50s and fell out of favor sometime in the mid ‘80s. That long-neglected, beautiful, red-headed stepchild is back with a vengeance, enhanced and integrated with 21st century technology. Here, a red barn has been transformed into a recording studio. In it, a loft overlooks a living room full of eclectic musical instruments and tools of the trade.”