Seeking a new listening audience

Friday, August 20, 2004

As a disc jockey at Real Rock 99.3 FM, Mike Renick's radio voice is heard by listeners every day during his 2 to 6 p.m. shift, but now Renick is trying to attract a whole new audience.

Renick's debut album "Diamond Eyes" has been available in Cape Girardeau stores PMac Music and Hastings Books, Music & Video for about a month, and on Saturday a "Diamond Eyes" release party, featuring a live performance by Renick and the musicians he recorded with, will be held at the River City Yacht Club.

Not bad for someone who still doesn't consider himself a "real" musician.

"Initially, I didn't have a goal of recording a CD and getting it in stores and selling a bunch of copies. I just wanted to get my music out there in some fashion," Renick said.

"It kind of went from not really doing anything -- writing songs in my room and playing songs for friends -- to having a CD for sale in stores."

While bringing his music to the attention of the public is new to him, Renick has been toying around with his musical interest and abilities for a while.

He sang in choir and in theater performances during his time at Notre Dame Regional High School and minored in music at Southeast Missouri State University.

After graduating from the university in 2001, Renick restricted his musical output to writing songs as a hobby and dabbling around on the acoustic guitar that he taught himself to play when he was 19.

Things changed this year when Renick, 26, decided that he wanted his music to reach a wider audience and thought recording an album would be the best way to accomplish it.

Influencing Renick's decision was the encouragement he received from friends and his increased confidence his guitar-playing abilities.

"It was scary in the sense that you're making all of [your music] public. You're taking stuff that's personal to you and putting it out there for people to judge," he said.

Renick also worried about finding musicians to record with, and a studio he could afford, but both fell into place.

As a regular attendee at Bruce Zimmerman and the Water Street Band's shows at Port Cape, Renick got to know these longtime Cape Girardeau musicians and when he asked them to record on his album, to Renick's surprise, they said yes. Renick also recruited Cape Girardeau musician Patrick Koetting of the Tone Def All Stars to lend his talents to the album.

"I know that they're really busy, most of them are in three or four bands. I didn't know if they had the time or if it'd be worth their time," Renick said.

"I'm really lucky to be playing with them. As far as I'm concerned, these guys are the best in the area for what they do."

Although he wrote the lyrics and music, Renick considers "Diamond Eyes" a collective effort and said Zimmerman, Koetting, Ralph McDonald, Danny Rees and Rabb Whitehead had as much to do with the sound of the album as he did.

Renick's other collaborator on the album was Brandon Drury, who runs Echo Echo Studios in Scott City where "Diamond Eyes" was recorded. Drury engineered, mixed and mastered the album.

"I knew I didn't have the budget to go in and pay a lot of money," Renick said. "Brandon was very fair."

Recording for "Diamond Eyes" started in April and finished up about four months later, in what Renick said was a fairly smooth process.

There are 13 songs on the album, about half of which Renick had written over the past four of five years and the other half he wrote in the last year.

The writing and recording process left Renick with a new respect for all musicians.

"I realized the difficulty of writing your own music; it was a challenge," he said.

"You hear a song on the radio and you listen to it without really paying attention and dismiss it. I've gained respect for anybody who can sit down and play their instruments and especially write their own stuff."

Renick has no plans to record another album anytime soon, but would like to start playing live shows. The only experience Renick has playing live shows is the time he spent singing at Jeremiah's open mic nights.

Saturday's release party marks Renick's first performance outside of Jeremiah's.

And while he may not be recording anytime soon, Renick is happy with the end result of his time in the studio.

"Obviously, there's a very good sense of accomplishment, to say 'Yeah, I recorded that,'" he said.

335-6611, extension 182

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