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Musical pursuit

Oct. 17, 2005

by MATTHEW WALLER, contributor

With mics checked, musicians in place and experienced hands on the soundboard, Jim Simmons' musical pilgrimage was about to begin.

Simmons, a first-year George W. Truett Seminary student, had taken off a month from work for days like these -- days when he would have a 12-hour block of time to record at Troubadour Studios in McGregor."I set aside this month to do music, and things just started happening," Simmons said about July.

His first step was producing a three-song demo that he'd pass out to friends, radio stations and at the Gospel Music Association's Music in the Rockies concert series to be critiqued. He competed and attend the series' sessions from Aug. 1 to 6 to improve his songwriting.

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Jessie Solomon | Lariat staff
First-year George W. Truett Seminary student Jim Simmons records songs at Troubadour Studios in McGregor. The rising artist has written three original songs so far, and he said he plans on recording more in the near future.
That's what brought him to the velvet-walled studio above the Texas Tea and Coffee House café where he recorded his demo's second and third tracks, "Shalom" and "Everlasting Love," respectively.

Simmons speaks modestly about his skill, however, claiming to contest to the talents of his studio help.

Steve Beloch produced the song "Garment" with Simmons at his apartment studio in Robinson.

"It turned out pretty nice," Beloch said. "One of the least enjoyable things (about recording) is when an artist is inflexible with his or her song, but I didn't have to deal with that with Jim because he's very open to suggestion."

Simmons said he'd probably record four more songs at Beloch's studio for an EP record as it would be more cost effective for his needs.

At Beloch, he pays per song as opposed to paying by the hour at Steve Collin's Troubadour Studios although he said the costs at Collin's studio are worth every penny.

At Troubadour, everything is meant to inspire creativity, from the giant, semi-circle red sofa, to its antique Texas style architecture, to its relatively isolated location.

Collins said when they're making recordings he can get away from town to focus on the music. He's also a songwriter for his alternative country band Deadman, which had recently returned from touring in Europe.

Financing for the demo's title song "Garment of Praise," which included paying for studio costs and the musicians' time, came from unexpected friend and family donations, Simmons said.

With the demo finished, the rising artist would have to prepare for the August Colorado competition, the next step in the musical pursuit of his passion.