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Expanded Horizons: Making music

Chris Weibel's summer included recording with Billy Joel's longtime drummer
Nov 12, 2009
By Molly Essell

Instructor, professional audio/video producer and facility designer Chris Weibel had the experience of a lifetime this past summer recording an album for artist Jimmy Hook and award-winning drummer Liberty DeVitto.

Weibel, a special projects manager for the Scripps College of Communication and faculty member in both the School of Media Arts and Studies and the School of Visual Communication, started professionally producing and mastering music albums 25 years ago and has had the chance to work as a freelance consultant nationwide.

He has also designed 3 Elliot Studio -- an independent recording studio in Athens, served as the design consultant for a new television/music recording studio for Adrian College in Michigan and a new home theater for Jesse Jackson, and designed home theaters for one of the founders of Blockbuster.

"Since I continually do professional projects throughout the year, I can bring my experience in producing to the classroom as well," Weibel said. "Sometimes, I even bring my classes to the production with me."

His project this summer was to record a pop-rock album for Hook, a longtime musician from the area and a mechanical engineer by trade.

"Jimmy has been involved both in live music performance and musical theater for many years," Weibel said.

DeVitto -- known for being Billy Joel's drummer for 30 years and for touring worldwide with Joel and Elton John -- was Hook's number one choice to play drums on the album.

"Jimmy found Liberty by searching the Internet and asked if he'd be interested in playing with us on the album. He said he'd love to do it, and it was like we were dreaming," Weibel said.

The album recording took place in August in Hockingport, Ohio, in a house on the Ohio River. Weibel was able to do his recording at the house because his "studio," a recording and editing system called Pro-Tools, is all in rack cases, meaning all of his professional equipment is mobile and can be transported anywhere.

"The fact that Chris was able to set up the Pro-Tools system in the artist's house made the recording process effortless. I'm not saying it wasn't hard work. I am saying there was an advantage to being in a private residence," said DeVitto. "There were no distractions of any 'strangers' dropping by and there was also no pressure of watching the clock. We could take all the time we wanted to record.

"Also, the relaxed pace made the musicians less tense, and a happy musician makes great music," he added.

The group recorded for five days, completing 14 songs for Hook's album. They plan to release the album early next year and also are aspiring for a Broadway future.

"Chris is a great person to work with. His expertise at the controls along with his patience and understanding made myself and the others able to get our ideas and performances recorded just like we heard them in our heads," said DeVitto. "Chris is a total professional. I look forward to working with him again soon."

Weibel, a graduate of Ohio University, fell in love with Athens and decided to stay following his marriage in 1980. His first job was with the College of Osteopathic Medicine for two and a half years doing video and audio production training. In 1998, after working for several years at Hocking College, he accepted an offer with the then-School of Telecommunications to come back to Ohio University.

Next, he was hired by Kathy Krendl, then-dean of the Scripps College of Communication, to design the Scripps Howard Multimedia Lab. Weibel continues to teach visual communications and media classes, covering such topics as audio/video production, and also is involved with the design of the new Scripps College of Communication building to be called The Schoonover Center for Communication.


Published: Nov 12, 2009 10:28 AM

Chris Weibel

Chris Weibel, an instructor and professional audio/video producer, spent five days this summer recording and producing an album for artist Jimmy Hook.

Liberty DeVitto performs

Award-winning drummer Liberty DeVitto traveled to Hockingport, Ohio, to perform for Hook's album.

Click to watch a clip from Weibel's recording session

Click to watch a video clip from the recording session.

Photo courtesy of: Chris Weibel 

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