Bakersfield sound engineer hits high notes with Aum Studio in downtown B-town | News
He is a 38-year-old Bakersfield native, husband, father of four daughters, musician and sound engineer.
Brian Boozer is also the owner of Aum Studio Productions, a cozy but busy (and increasingly busy) recording studio in downtown Bakersfield.
In a world where the ready availability of do-it-yourself recording software has made home studios increasingly popular, one wonders if operating another commercial recording studio in a city like Bakersfield is a feasible option.
Let’s put it this way: last year was Aum’s busiest year so far, so busy that Boozer felt like he was crawling towards the finish line in December.
“We only had two bookable days last year that weren’t full,” he said. “All other bookable days were completely full throughout the year.
“I’m happy to say that the studio is now in full swing. We’re as busy as we can get.”
In the meantime, Aum has caught the attention of better known artists and major record labels.
“I would say 85% of my customer base is local to Bakersfield, but we’re starting to see more and more customers coming from LA or the Fresno area,” Boozer said.
Singer-songwriter Alice Howe, a Boston native who now lives in Los Angeles, is thrilled with what she experienced as a recording artist at Aum. She recorded her first full album there in 2019 – and while her second modern folk album was recorded at the legendary Fame Studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, she and her collaborating producer and bassist, Freebo, decided they wanted the record mixed at Aum in Bakersfield.
It is due out later this year.
“It’s not a home studio,” Howe said of Aum. “But it’s starting to feel like home.”
Howe remembers planning a session at Aum and asking friends and fans—or assuming—that the sessions would take place in Los Angeles.
“I said, ‘No, I’m going to Bakersfield!'” she recalled with a laugh.
Freebo’s praise of Boozer’s work ethic, his “musician’s ear” and his diplomatic yet confident approach to artists in the studio seemed to be on par with Howe’s.
The multi-instrumentalist, composer, recording artist, singer and producer is perhaps best known for his work with the great Bonnie Raitt. But Freebo played bass on Maria Muldaur’s 1973 hit, “Midnight at the Oasis,” and worked with bluesmen like John Mayall, Ringo Starr, Crosby Stills & Nash, and many others.
“As far as I’m concerned, Brian is as good as anyone I’ve worked with,” Freebo said of the young engineer.
With such props, it’s perhaps no surprise that Aum is quickly becoming one of the hottest studios in the Central Valley.
“I feel like we’ve been lucky enough to work with just about every band and musician in town over the last few years,” Boozer said. And it was really exciting to see big names stopping too.
“Specifically, I’ve worked with Disney, Florida Georgia Line, Grammy-winning jazz singer Gregory Porter, rock ‘n’ roll legend George Thorogood, Sting, the Zac Brown Band, Patty LaBell, Don Was , Larry Kelin, Freebo…”
The list is long and growing.
“It’s exciting to see my name in the credits of some of these amazing albums and movies, some of which are sure to be Grammy hopefuls next year,” he said.
Monty Byrom, a Bakersfield-based singer-songwriter-guitarist-producer known for the success of his band Big House, his collaboration with Eddie Money and a myriad of other projects, has worked closely with Boozer for the past few years.
“I’ve been living here for practically a year,” Byrom said during a recording session at Aum last month.
“It’s simple. Brian is really good at what he does,” Byrom said.
Echoing Freebo, he said Aum is as good as any studio he’s recorded at, including facilities in Nashville, Austin and Los Angeles.
But the reasons for Aum’s rise remain complex and multifaceted.
Boozer’s personality is a big part of that, say those who know him. There’s a drive to be the best, but there’s also a sweetness to him that makes the creative process less threatening, less like you’re walking a knife’s edge.
“We had an amazing experience at Aum,” Howe said. “We love Brian so much we invited him to join us at Fame.”
The studio in Alabama is nothing short of legendary, having recorded artists such as Aretha Franklin, Little Richard, Wilson Pickett, Etta James, Otis Redding and many more.
For Boozer, it was like time travel.
During last month’s Aum session, there was a knock on the door during a break in the action. The old man at the door was a homeless man Boozer had spoken to before.
Despite his busy morning, Boozer didn’t chase the man away, but rather communicated with him for nearly 15 minutes, maintaining the man’s self-esteem, even as he waited for an opportunity to recover. at work.
“He was a local regular,” Boozer told the musicians after saying goodbye and closing the door.
“He’s a really lovely guy,” he said of the man. “But that’s the difficult situation I find myself in.”
Indeed, Boozer loves its downtown location, but it has struggled with the changes the neighborhood has been going through, like so many other businesses in the area.
Ironically, Boozer’s caring and gentle approach might be one of the secrets to his success.
Artists walk a tightrope when they create. They take risks. It’s part of the process. But Boozer’s technical prowess, his musical ear, his ability to communicate, even through creative disagreements, make the process more joyful and less stressful.
As a producer, Freebo said he worked with Howe and Boozer as a team.
“We brainstormed together to find the best way to support the singing,” he said.
And if all the elements come together, the end product can be beautiful, even profound.
And it all takes place in a small studio in Bakersfield.
Reporter Steven Mayer can be reached at 661-395-7353. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter: @semayerTBC.