Larry Dean Embry (1958-2013) The 38 Fresh Years

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Larry spent his early adult years sustaining himself as a house painter. As time wore on, Larry eventually realized that his mental and physical health would require a career course correction ASAP. His last big project was a recording studio in central Hollywood called 38 Fresh Studios. Larry really pulled out all the stops and did beautiful job designing, painting and renovating the interior of the facility.

Larry had the keys to the complex and the owner was very impressed and grateful for Larry’s efforts. The owner advised Larry to go ahead keep the keys to the studio with the proviso he bring in some clients. It’s unclear if Larry negotiated an apprenticeship or oversold his engineering abilities. All I know is, I got an impassioned phone call from Larry telling me he needed a musical lab-rat post haste to help him get up to speed on the science of sound engineering and record production. So we struck a high-powered “production deal”. I would pay Larry the princely sum of seven dollars an hour, and he would produce and engineer three of my songs. I would have three songs memorialized at a 24-track ‘state of the art facility’ for a pittance and for posterity.

Three tracks turned into 16. My first album as well as an EP were recorded with Larry at the helm. Larry was also recording his music there and compiled an album’s worth of material. He also engineered pick-up sessions to fill in the gaps. 38 Fresh Studios became the focal point of our lives in the last few peace and prosperity years of the 20th century. The sweat and creativity he would lavish on his own songs would creep into my sessions and vice versa. I played on his songs and  he played on mine. I was in the September of my life and he was 4 years my junior. Minutes and hours were productive and packed with activity. When we weren’t recording at 38 Fresh, we are on the phone talking about our projects. The hundreds of hours spent together at 38 Fresh arc welded us together in friendship. I was the fussy, perfectionist Virgo and he was a dynamic Gemini. The sparks would fly and words would get exchanged. Feelings got hurt. But, a brisk “I’m sorry”, a clap on the shoulder, and a late-nite Margarita break would set us back on course. Many times, it seemed Larry was more committed and passionate about my album than I was.

To say our sessions were fully sanctioned would be an untruth. 38 Fresh paid the bills by producing the music for Bill Nye The Science Guy and Cypress Hill among others (including the immortal Sandra Bernhardt and The Strap-Ons).  I would sit by the ‘bat phone’ in the evening and would wait for the “all clear” from Larry. I managed to trim my nocturnal commute from Castaic to Hollywood down to a neat 37 minutes. We were younger then than now….

Larry would spend his free time on his back under the Trident – B mixing board figuring out the inner workings and trouble shooting. When the sea-changing digital-audio innovation “Pro-Tools” was introduced to the studio Larry mastered the technology with remarkable speed and his conversion from house painter to sound engineer was in full-forward trajectory. Larry was gifted with genius, balls and resolve I clearly did not possess.

During this period, it seemed the imperatives of his living situation required him to spend more time and energy on my music than he did on his own. However, he did create some remarkable works of art during this hot-house phase of his life. His was particularly proud of the song “Sands Of Galilee”. It’s stunning and it re-activated my tear ducts when I played it again recently. Of course it’s poignancy and gravitas is amplified by his recent passing. Larry was not religious. Larry considered himself a pantheist. He was a spiritual man but remained “un-affiliated”. I’m sure being a good mid-western boy, he had more than a passing acquaintance with The Bible. I’m assuming this from the lyrics of this song. However, when he did ‘testify’, he did it with a panache and nuance that few others possessed.

Here then is “Sands of Galilee”. Featuring one of Larry’s greatest guitar moments and the sacramental wine-soaked piano styling of Dominic Bakewell….

Click here>>>>>>>>>>Larry-Dean-Embry/the-Sands-of-Gallilee

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