Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Working with legendary Motown arranger David J. Van De Pitte

It seems like only yesterday that I used to visit as many record shops on a Saturday afternoon as I could in search of some obscure soul record from the USA that nobody else had heard. That was in 1974 and in that process I picked up albums also to discover that some companies had started to name musicians, arrangers and other faceless people who had somehow contributed to the studio session output on the rear of the LP sleeve. Over the years and into the 1980/90’s the names of certain individuals became more celebrated, as their contribution to the songs became more apparent, and rightly so. I cannot remember when I first became accustomed to reading David’s name on a record cover, or indeed via some other medium, but what I do know it was always synonymous with quality music from the Motown record label. Distant memories come to life also, as in my archives reside the names of Paul Riser, Gene Page, Hal Davis in addition to David’s. They must have been imprinted long ago as I was in awe of these people including the musicians and how they all made the music come alive for me thousands of miles away in England.

During the planning stages of my dream Detroit session and the hundreds of emails both Dennis Coffey and I exchanged, it became apparent that it may be an idea to employ an arranger to study the demo’s I had sent over and put some sparkle on the songs. I was not familiar how this was done, but Dennis Coffey, who really worked hard and helped this project work from start to finish suggested contacting David J. Van De Pitte and asking whether he would be interested in arranging the four songs, doing the charts for the musicians and leading the band in the studio. Amazingly he said ‘yes’ and I was shocked, in fact tearful. How could this happen to somebody like me? Not even an average person, from Hull, England on probably one of the most difficult ventures of his life and here, a top Motown arranger coming on board to help make my dream come true.

So, everything was organised. Dennis had contracted the musicians and David to appear at Studio A one Monday morning in March 2008 for the Carl Dixon session! My wife Michelle and I turned up early to Studio A in Dearborn Heights on a cold winter’s morning, to be followed into the car park by drummer Spider Webb and pianist Robert Jones. We embraced and laughed about what was happening like old friends. We had met previously on ‘The Soulful Tale of Two Cities’ session held at the same studio coincidentally in March 2006. Bobby Eli had invited me to attend around January 2006 and I flew out to Detroit with excitement and watched the masters at work. It was this session that made me realise that I could possibly hire Studio A too, and do something similar. Everything fell into place. However, David was not on this session and a million miles still, from mine.

The interesting part to was when I saw this small bearded gentleman waltz into the studio that Monday with a bag full of Federal Express white envelopes. I honestly thought he was a US mail delivery man wandering around looking for the studio owners to get a signature for an important delivery. I was wrong! I said to him ‘Hello, who are you?’ he replied ‘David Van De Pitte’ and I introduced myself and told him who I thought he was. We laughed, shook hands and discussed the music. It was an unbelievable encounter. He whispered something in my ear about my demos which made my day! He was complimentary and thrilled to be working on the session. Of course he knew many of the musicians who had already arrived and I remember fondly the embrace he and Uriel Jones had as they had not seen each other for some time. In the studio I was speechless when out of the Federal Express bags came hand written musical notation for every musician playing on that gig. Meticulously organised and created without the use of computer technology, something he did not believe in. He even told me he did not want an email address and handed me his CV! David was a professional and worked the musicians hard to acquire their best cumulative effort during the session. It’s like he understood that once the best was in the can he could relax knowing that he and the musicians had done their very best for the label/contractor. In just two days, we recorded the basic rhythm tracks and horn overdubs. Can you believe the rhythm tracks were recorded in less than 4 hours on the Monday! How professional is that! Some of the demos took me 6 months to do! It was a priceless experience and to quote David at the end of one of the song recordings:

“I didn’t know that there were that many notes”

And Dennis Coffey replied:

“There wasn’t when we started”

And David again:

“He just makes ‘em up as he goes along”

Go here to see and hear the studio session in full swing, and those famous words.


Rest in Peace David J. Van De Pitte.
© Carl Dixon 2009

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Finally - 45's arrived in London - Spyder Turner/Pree

Hear Spyders and Pree's tracks on the Bandtraxs Youtube:


Finally, my 45 rpm 7" records have arrived in London after a journey from 'Archers' pressing in Detroit. I got an express delivery for a basic package from UPS because they collect everyday from Archers and they just put my consignment on the truck early. Sales are slowly starting to move and I have pitched the price at £10 including delivery for retail customers for the moment. I think for this project that is a little too low because of the costings and import freight, duty and vat expenses on top of American production costs. Wholesale customers, of which there are not that many, are small independents and cannot afford to lay the money out so require SOR (sale or return) to be able to even consider a purchase. However, after my initial investment last year, I cannot afford to give credit either, no matter how much I want the songs heard. So, here comes the next part of the story...the distribution of the 45's to places they will be heard and then hopefully some of those who hear the tracks know where to buy them. Purchase details are on the right hand side.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Monday, 20 July 2009

Dennis Coffey talks about my session on Radio 6 Craig Charles Saturday 19th July 2009

Hear Dennis Coffey talking about the project to Craig Charles Saturday 19th July 2009:


You will have to zoom down to about 47 minutes. 'Tell me' played earlier on the show too!

Friday, 12 June 2009

Finally! Detroit releases x 3


Finally a big fanfer as I am releasing three of the Detroit songs I recorded last year in the city.

Tell me (crying over you)/Spyder Turner
Suddenly there's you/Pree
Detroit (city by the river)/Bandtraxs

The tracks were completed March 2008 and were part of my Bandtraxs project, but I had to get my head around the music business and song registration protocols that are necessary for copyright reasons and royalties of course, before I dipped my toe in the water. The releases will be digital download first via Amazon/iTunes, to see what the interest is before I commit finances to the 45 rpms I have promised and indeed the Bandtraxs project CD which I am planning for later this year or early next.

Now, the songs are registered for writing and performer royalties should I be lucky enough to glean anything from air play, and of course as a 'label' I could maybe earn something to share with the performers on the session. But, it is early days yet, so my next step is to contact some of the radio DJ's I know with a view to seeing if they are interested in the material. It's all cloak and dagger stuff because I have sent so much already and not heard a thing! Maybe it's still a big secret.

Listen to the tracks here.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Detroit tracks x 3 to aggregator for release

Now, the following recordings are with Tunecore for the digital aggregation to Amazon.co.uk/Amazon.com and iTunes for eventual sale to the public on or before 1st July 2009, wordwide:

Detroit (city by the river)/Bandtraxs
Suddenly there's you/Pree
Tell me (crying over you)/Spyder Turner

These tracks feature the very best Detroit talent from production, arranging, musical and vocal performances in the studio, and indeed a great studio to cut the songs in, Studio A, in Dearborn Heights. I must confess, the song writing is pretty cool too! Just look at the roster of performers who have appeared on some or all the tracks. to hear snippets, go here:

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

New Detroit releases

I am now in the process of arranging for three of my Detroit recordings recorded in 2008 to be digitally released via Amazon.com/co.uk and iTunes. 'Tell me (crying over you)/Spyder Turner, 'Suddenly there's you'/Pree and 'Detroit (city by the river)/Bandtraxs. I am just preparing the press releases now and have included a sample of one of them here. Also here is the recording report I completed after the session to keep a record of the musicians and artists who performed on the recordings.

Spyder Turner was live on 'The Right Track Soul Show'

If anybody missed the terrific interview Harry Grundy did with the legendary Spyder Turner on ‘The Right Track Soul Show’ on Sunday, don’t fear. You can go here for a web cast or even download the programme to your PC (right mouse click and ‘save target as’):
The programme showcases Spyders musical career and even plays material from when he was just 17 years old. The interview was fun, informative and Spyders sense of humour prevailed throughout.
In addition, Harry played the unreleased ‘Tell me (crying over you)’/Spyder Turner & ‘Detroit (city by the river)/Bandtraxs. These tracks were cut at Studio A, Dearborn Heights, Detroit in 2008 with Spyder, Pree and Gayle Butts on vocals and a wealth of musical talent from the city. These two tracks and Pree’s ‘Suddenly there’s you’ are due for digital release very soon. For trivia about the session and more details go hear:
and my personal blog:
Stay tuned…
For those interested in Harry’s’ programme each Sunday evening (UK), please check out the details below.
The Right Track Soul Show
Salford City Radio 94.4 fm
Sunday nights 8.00 pm - 10.00 pm
email: righttrack@salfordcityradio.org
Studio Number: 0161 793 2944 / 2942

Sunday, 3 May 2009

"Don't tell your mama" - CDO, Press Release

This great new single release is now available to purchase from ITunes, Amazon.com/co.uk, Lala, Emusic etc. Any DJ's interested, let me know!
To buy from iTunes go here and search CDO 'Don't tell your mama'
To buy from Amazon.co.uk go here: buy
To buy from Amazon.com go here: buy

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Sad passing of Motown/Detroit drummer Uriel Jones

Yesterday was the funeral of the legendary Motown drummer Uriel Jones. This was such a shock, as he had complications earlier this year and was in hospital recovering well, or so it seemed. I was honoured to meet him on a number of occasions and indeed he performed on my Detroit session last year. I shall never forget him as one way or another he has been part of my musical quests since about 1970. When I was just 15 years old I realised something was happening in Detroit and wanted to know who the musicians were. Uriel was part of that dream and through Alan Slutskys book 'Standing in the Shadows of Motown' , I finally found out what his name was around 1992! In 2002 I travelled to Detroit with some colleagues and met him at Ann Arbour Library where he was performing with Joe Hunter, Marcus Belgrave, Fred Bryant, and Tonya Hood. I had the honour of cleaning his shoes for him as a fun gesture. In 2006 Philly producer, writer, musician Bobby Eli invited me to attend the 'Soulful Tale of two Cities' Detroit session, and again I met Uriel and all the musicians at the studio. Of course, my session in Detroit last year was a thrill to see him and the others tailor my songs in true Detroit style with the help of Dennis Coffey co producing and arrangments by David van de Pitte. My condolances go to his family and friends who have lost a gifted and talented individual that has inspired so many. He will never be out my life, that's for sure. For the Detroit News coverage fo the funeral go here.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

"Don't tell your mama" by CDO released.

"'CDO' perform "Don't tell your mama" which is a rhythmic piece of danceable contemporary funk, with 1970's overtones. The track was written in 2004 and this Bandtraxs production release features a slightly different mix to the original incarnation."

Purchase "Don't tell your mama in the US here.
Purchase "Don't tell your mama" in the UK here.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

CDO - "Don't tell your mama" a Bandtraxs Production

In preparation for the digital release of some Detroit recordings I did last year, I am releasing a track called "Don't tell your mama" by CDO, to test the functionality of the aggregator and digital stores. It is critical that I understand how sales will take place worldwide, in order that I can control any income or royalties that are generated. I have always admired the musicians and producers who in the past have inspired me to write and produce new material. Should I be lucky enough to generate sales and a healthy income, after expenses of course, will use the money to pay for more sessions and residuals back to those who helped me get this far in the first place. The featured artists on my Detroit session have become instrumental in the success of the material recorded in March last year. They really are talented people and deserve a fanfare for what they do and have done in the past in the music business. In fact that sentiment goes to all the session musicians, producer, studio staff etc who could be bothered to help an English man achieve a dream session in the wonderful city of Detroit.

What I have learnt in the last 12 months is that the music business model is falling to pieces and digital media taking over via the Internet. Even CD's have issues, just like records did in the past. However, I will concentrate on the digital side of things, and still hopefully press some 45's for those tracks released in the digital domain. Once "Don't tell your mama" is available to purchase I will publish a press release and forward the track to any radio stations that may be interested. Then, I will concentrate on the Detroit material, so stay tuned.