The date was June 10th, and we were about to find out just what it would take to film a live musical performance deep in the woods.
Dan picked up Nick at his apartment in Brooklyn and they drove up to Greenwich Audubon in Connecticut as they had done so many times before. Ryan lives and works as a naturalist at the nature center, so the employee living quarters have become a second home outside of the city for Meadowhawks - a sort of dispatch point for our adventures into the wilderness of the NY state area. The Audubon nature preserve in Greenwich stretches over 7 miles of gorgeous woodland paths and carefully protected wildlife habitat, and would hopefully make for a fitting site for our first 'Songs from the Wild' video.
This video was, among other things, a bit of a test for Meadowhawks. Not only are we still experimenting with the basics of how we play music as a trio when we perform in that arrangement, we were also in totally uncharted territories when it came to shooting the video. We had picked our performance site a few days earlier and it was easily a two mile hike from the closest parking spot, so we knew it would be a haul. And once we got out to the site, we still had to get all the electrical and recording equipment set up in such a way that it could function and stay safe but would also be out of view of the cameras.
Luckily, we had done our best to prepare for the shoot by thinking hard about how we would go about recording the audio and video footage. We invested in portable rechargeable batteries that could power a laptop, mixer, a small battery-powered amplifier, and all of the microphones and instruments. We cut out and miniaturized any piece of equipment we could, and came up with a pile of equipment that three-people could carry... theoretically.
The car was packed and we were off to the trailhead at 4:00pm, it only took a few minutes to get there. We took everything out of the car and arranged it in three roughly equivalent piles on the ground. Dan and Ryan strapped their equipment to their backs and picked up the rest, and Nick was courageous enough to strap most of his load onto a foldable hand-truck - a hypothetically preferable way to haul heavy music and film equipment through bumpy trails that we would quickly find out is actually a terrible idea.
Not more than a quarter-mile into the hike we began to feel the brunt of our ambitions to go where no band has gone before. The trail was studded with roots, rocks, narrow steps and teeming with dead branches and fallen trees. Each section of the trail brought new difficulties, and by the time we were close to the end we had fallen far behind on time and we were exhausted. But as they say, the show in the middle of woods must go on.
We finally got ourselves to the film site, and setup the gear. It had taken us an hour and a half to get there, more than a half hour longer than we expected, but luckily the sun was still out and we had some daylight left to film. All in all, the performance and the recording went extremely well, we did three takes of the song and after the third agreed we had what we needed, grinning from ear to ear as we finished with a chorus of birds applauding our efforts.
We packed up the gear, took a couple of photos, and glanced at our watches as we headed home... it was 7:30pm! The cart was a pain on the way in, and if we used it on the way back there was no way we could avoid hiking in darkness. So we unloaded and folded up the cart, and came to terms with reality that we would have to carry everything. We strapped ourselves to the gills with our bags, cases, mic stands, hardware, and everything else and hit the road.
We howled into the wilderness as we pushed our bodies through the winding trails as the sun started to dip into the horizon. As we came up the final pass and dropped to the floor next to our car, we looked up, and as luck would have it, we saw a mother box turtle laying eggs in a hole just at the foot of the trail. All of us wildlife, all of us in the wild.