If you frequented music venues prior to the pandemic’s onset, chances are you’ve spotted Sloan Simpson setting up to record a show for his audio archive, Southern Shelter. Being recorded by him is essentially a rite of passage for local musicians, and his dedication to archiving has accumulated into thousands and thousands of files that span over two decades.
Finally, an opportunity has surfaced to return a fraction of the support he’s shown so many others over the years. Today, he releases his debut single, “Oh, Gertie Girl!”
“Over the past year without live shows to record, I’ve begun writing and recording my own music for the first time, asking dozens of Athenian musician friends to contribute remotely,” says Simpson. “After completing an upcoming LP, I wrote a new song I wanted to put out quickly while the full album’s release is sorted out. I wrote it about the disappearance of my best friend’s dog, or maybe it’s about someone who needed out of a relationship.”
Simpson’s upcoming 12-track album has already been mastered and is currently in discussion with a potential label for vinyl release. Remarkably, the album features over 30 contributing artists, most of whom recorded their parts independently at home due to the pandemic. Released separately from the album, but offering a fair foretelling of what’s to come, the tender track “Oh, Gertie Girl!” sees Brandon Reynolds (The Wydelles) playing bass guitar and Robert Schneider (Apples In Stereo) singing harmony.
“I played guitar in rock bands and jazz ensembles in high school and college, but gave up in frustration in the mid-’90’s and sold my guitars,” says Simpson. “In the fall of 2020, bored without live shows to record and incredibly bummed out about Caledonia Lounge’s closing, I wrote my first song after goofing around with a MIDI controller and some virtual synths on a friend’s project. I found that playing keyboard, which I have no training in, allowed me to write what I heard in my head rather than play from muscle memory as I have with guitar for many years.”
All of Simpson’s parts were recorded directly into his laptop, while drums were recorded at Bryan Howard’s Del Toro Sound. Though his longest-running musical obsession, The Cure, served as a starting point for writing songs, he has found just as much inspiration from the community around him.
“I will say that the overall Athens music scene over the last 20 years heavily influenced the full LP, as I wrote a lot of it to play to the strengths of the guests that I picked after years of listening to and recording them,” says Simpson.
Approximately a year ago, Southern Shelter’s former web host finally buckled under the weight of such a vast library, and while the files were not lost altogether, they still require the tedious task of uploading to the new site. Visit southernshelter.com to explore selected recordings, and to keep up with all things Sloan Brothers, head to sloanbrothers.bandcamp.com and facebook.com/sloanbrothersmusic.
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