Become a Patron! Click “Patronize Me!” to set a monthly pledge amount for Downloads, Lyrics, and Tiered Rewards!
(Hi, I’m Azaria! I’m here for the next ten months to help Olivia tell this story!)
“Inspired by Spokane” is part of a larger work-in-progress called “This Is Where You Live – Songs Inspired in Spokane, 2021-2022.”
THE MD & BAND
While performing in the old Iron Goat Brewing building, 2204 E. Mallon Ave., musician/engineer Jay Condiotti couldn’t help but see potential for the space as a recording studio.
Turns out, he was onto something; the building housed a recording studio before Iron Goat took over. Close to a year after Jay expressed his interest in the building, the brewery decided to move to its current location, 1302 W. Second Ave. He bought the space and set to work creating J Bones Musicland.
What followed were three years of renovations completed by Jay and a hired crew. Working against the deadline of his July 2019 wedding, Jay and his team turned the brewery into a studio, complete with a control room, two tracking rooms, three bathrooms, one kitchen, one stage and one bar, the latter two of which are converted storage containers.
“It was a dream come true because I always leased studio space, and this was my opportunity to create the ultimate space for myself,” he said.
Since opening J Bones Musicland, Jay, who has been in the music business for 35 years and makes music to be licensed for TV, films and commercials, has worked with creatives on rap and country songs, audiobooks, voiceover work, a meditation CD for a massage therapist and much more.
On May 28, he added Olivia’s “Inspired by Spokane” to the list. Having just one day to record a song didn’t faze Jay, as he once recorded a full album in three days with Spokane’s Fat Lady. To make a recording session as productive as possible, Jay arranges the studio ahead of time so both he and the artist can hit the ground running.
“Pre-production is the best form of production,” he said.
He’s also open to pre-production meetings with artists to ensure everyone is on the same page.
“It’s been good because, for years it’s been me in studio, and that’s great. You have total control, almost,” Jay said. “But now, I enjoy having someone come in and really helping them achieve their vision. People are leaving super stoked so I’m enjoying it.”
When he’s not working at J Bones Musicland, Jay performs with his wife in Silver Smile, and shares a family YouTube channel with his sons.
Singer and actor Dahveed Bullis needed little convincing when Olivia approached him about singing on “Inspired by Spokane.” As a born-and-raised Spokanite, Dahveed has heard time and time again fellow creatives express their desire to leave Spokane for bigger cities.
But Dahveed sees things quite differently and is excited by both how Spokane affects its residents and how Spokanites can work to improve the city. The lyric “I always used to think that I made you/and took pride in what I gave you./Now I’m older and I’ve found/it’s the other way around” particularly resonated with him.
“I’m really thrilled that there’s not a lot here because that means there’s a lot to build,” he said. “To be at the ground of that is really exciting. And keeping your ear to the ground of what’s the city saying it wants? What is it and what is it not realizing that it needs and how can we step in and be a part of that?”
A musician in his own right, Dahveed has turned his focus to theater in recent years. He can soon be seen co-starring in Stage Left Theater’s production of Antoinette Nwandu’s “Pass Over,” which opens June 3. Dahveed is also preparing for another season with the Spokane Playwrights Laboratory, which he co-founded with Scott Doughty. The laboratory gives playwrights an opportunity to develop works in progress in a no-frills environment. Auditions for SPL’s second season will be held later this summer.
“To be a part of a nonprofit organization that is at the ground level and making real efforts and real outputs to give folks an opportunity to not feel like ‘Nobody cares about my work,’ that’s been really thrilling,” he said.
THE MD & BAND:
Like Dahveed and Jay, drummer AJ Ramirez had no problem with having just one day in the studio. Growing up in a high-pressure musical environment, AJ said, helped him become comfortable with small time frames and quick turnaround times.
“If there’s something I can claim I’m proficient at, I think it might be high pressure studio work. At least when it comes to drumming,” he added with a laugh.
AJ has had plenty of time to become proficient; he began drumming at the age of 4. He started playing on stages professionally at 10. When he was 13, he picked up the guitar and started singing seriously shortly after.
“Drums were my first love, but singing and playing guitar are a different type of outlet,” he said. “They bring me different kinds of artistic satisfaction.”
AJ gets a similar sense of satisfaction from collaboration, which made it easy to say yes to appearing on “Inspired by Spokane.” AJ admitted it can be difficult to connect to a song if he’s not part of its creation prior to entering the studio, but having a solid scratch track that communicates the song’s basic feel and direction can help.
“Also, the writer really knowing what kind of sound they’re going after is a huge deal when you have studio musicians just coming in to create the parts,” he said. “Which in this case, Olivia nailed it.”
Once in the studio, AJ is relying on his years of experience performing with other musicians to help get everyone on the same page quickly. The quality of the musicians he works with also helps things run more smoothly.
“The studio can be a very challenging environment and having people who can thrive within that is key to what you end up with at the end, and the overall enjoyment of the process together,” he said.
AJ recently released his first single as a solo artist, “Losing My Mind,” which is available to stream on all major platforms under the name AZARIAH. On June 3, catch AJ at Artfest at the MAC playing drums for Scott Ryan Ingersoll. AJ will also perform some original songs during the set, which runs 6-8 p.m. On June 24th at Lucky You Lounge, AJ will perform with his ‘80s cover band STARCOURT.
You also heard on this track: Eddie Ramirez on bass, and Blake Braley on keys. Eddie is often seen playing with the Blake Braley Band at Zola on Saturdays.
In the same way AJ has had drumsticks in his hands since he was a child, Sally Jablonsky has had crayons, colored pencils and paintbrushes in her hands since she was young.
“I was always drawn to it but my parents helped me do lots of expressive creative things,” Sally said of her artistic beginnings. “That helped a lot.”
Her parents not only encouraged her artistic pursuits but also created art with her. Sally and her father often played a drawing game during which they would pass a piece of paper back and forth, each adding something new to the creation with each pass.
Sally enjoys working in a variety of mediums, though she’s mostly drawn to oil painting, painting with gouache and pen and ink drawing. She also makes small cups, planters and dishes out of clay, many adorned with images of leaves, flowers and moths.
Sally also does illustration work for others and has created album and single art in the past, so creating art for “Inspired by Spokane” was very much in her wheelhouse.
“I really like her idea of celebrating and highlighting Spokane and artists in Spokane,” she said. “Especially because of the pandemic, it doesn’t feel like there’s really a lot going on so it’s nice to have something to bring people together.”
Olivia sent Sally a preliminary recording of “Inspired by Spokane,” and Sally set to work sketching out a few ideas. She resonated with lyrics about being connected to a place while also noticing that things are changing.
“I really like cubism so I was thinking of doing something inspired by that,” she said. “But who knows? It lends to the feeling of movement and change, and I could work a lot of different imagery in there.”
When she’s not creating art, Sally plays and teaches music, specifically fiddle, banjo, ukulele and guitar.
“I believe in the value of fostering a supportive learning environment in which I model clear, sensitive and constructive communication,” she writes on her website.
Sally said her lessons are open to all ages and skill levels.
“I’m trying to build up the old time traditional fiddle scene in Spokane more,” she said. “I want to make it happen because it’s a really fun community thing to do, like making your own fun.”