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Music Livin' on the edge: Music panel with Hanson ends on an Aerosmith note

Published: 11.16.16
Cain's Ballroom has been around since 1924, but this was a first for the Carnegie Hall of Western Swing: Mark Hudson, using a borrowed guitar, belted out Aerosmith's "Livin' on the Edge" and the Hanson lads - Isaac, Taylor and Zac - joined him in song.

The team-up was met with applause.

And that's how you put a punctuation mark on a behind-the-music panel.

Hudson co-wrote the song (lyrics, listen to them, are applicable to current events) during his distinguished career as a musician, songwriter and record producer. He has collaborated not just with Aerosmith but with performers like Ringo Starr, Ozzy Osbourne and Hanson.

Hudson joined Hanson and engineer C.J. Eiriksson on stage Monday night for an "Inside the Album" panel moderated by Tulsa World music writer Jerry Wofford. The event was the latest in the Tulsa Office of Film, Music, Arts & Culture's Music Mixer and Panel Series.

How are albums created? How do you choose partners in creating an album? How heavy should the producer's influence be? What are positives and negatives of how technology has changed the recording process?

Guests listened to music pros tackle the questions and - bonus - learned the following things:
• Osbourne, when recording, sings in his underwear.
• When Zac Hanson was a child, Hudson used a Peanuts cartoon of piano-playing Schroeder and Lucy to achieve a desired performance in recording. See how she's gazing at him?
• Hudson compared working with some acts to kidney surgery. He couldn't wait to get out of the room. But, in regard to his continuing relationship with Hanson, he said, "With these guys, it's fun to go to work every day because they are the real deal."

Wofford began the panel by asking participants to weigh in on Leon Russell, who died Sunday. Of course, many kind things were said. "He continually brought people together, wherever he went," Taylor Hanson said.

But Hudson, whose stories can be as colorful as his rainbow beard, shared a tale about how Joe Cocker, after joining Russell and Billy Joel on stage, lost his lunch while singing "Feelin' Alright." Cocker wiped his face and kept singing.

"Nobody stopped," Hudson said. "But Leon kind of looked at Billy Joel like ‘what the hell was that?'?"

Can you imagine having to tell a Beatle he's doing something incorrect musically? Hudson, who produced or co-produced nine albums for Starr, found himself in that position once when he had to inform Paul McCartney he was playing the wrong chord. Nobody else was willing to do it, so Hudson spoke up. McCartney accepted Hudson's advice like a champ.

"The great guys want to be told when it's wrong," Hudson said. "They want to be told how to make it better, and that was Paul McCartney."

Hudson said songwriting is what separates the men from the boys when it comes to recording albums. Hopefuls presented songs they had written to Hudson during the panel.

The panelists didn't sound like fans of the autotune trend. Zac Hanson said technology should be used to help things that are otherwise great and not be used to turn something bad into something good.

The panelists were, however, in favor of pushing boundaries. Eiriksson, who has worked with U2, said one of Bono's sayings is "If it's not broke, break it."

Hanson is, of course, a homegrown band. Asked why it was important to appear at the panel, Isaac Hanson cited a good relationship with Tulsa FMAC. An invitation came. Hanson accepted.

"It was a good opportunity to do it," he said. "We are working on some projects right now and so we were able to do it."

After the panel, the director of the Tulsa Office of Film, Music, Arts & Culture said the mission of Tulsa FMAC is two-fold.

"We are working hard to promote Tulsa as a nationally recognized creative hub, but we are also dedicated to providing resources to further develop our local creative class," Abby Kurin said.

"We created this Music Mixer & Panel Series to provide an opportunity for people working in or interested in the music industry to network and learn from each other."

Kurin said the "Inside the Album" panel was another example of how FMAC was able to utilize local resources found in Tulsa to highlight important, relevant topics.

"Our event provided insight and inspiration to incredible musicians in the room and music fans in general. With the star power at this event and the rich music history that Hanson, Mark and C.J. bring to the table, you might at first glance think this is an event happening in a major city. But it's not L.A. It's not New York. This is right here in our backyard, in Tulsa. We're incredibly proud of that, and honored to be the office that gets to spend our days telling that story to the rest of the world."

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