Faster Than Sound: Mixing Major Films, Danny Reisch Establishes LA Studio

Good Danny's in Lockhart will stay open and tracking

Danny Reisch (Photo by Letitia Smith)

On his last trip of 2020 ahead of the pandemic, Danny Reisch traveled to the Skywalker Sound studios on Star Wars creator George Lucas' famed Skywalker Ranch.

He was wrapping up the final mix of A24 movie The Green Knight with composer Daniel Hart, a longtime bandmate of Reisch's in the indie rock project Other Lives. Reisch has mixed scores for many major films in recent years, but to the Austin music world, he's better known as an acclaimed record producer and engineer. The Austin Music Award-winner hopes a recent move to Los Angeles will allow him to continue doing both.

"The film score world is largely on the West Coast, and I'd like to do more of that," he says. "Simultaneously, a lot of the artists I've been working with are based on the West Coast. In the last six months, I've done three different records for artists from L.A. I've just been feeling that pull."

Reisch assures that his Lockhart studio, Good Danny's, will remain open and busy – also used by a cast of freelance engineers. His expertise just south of Austin contributed to 2021 standouts like Sun June's Somewhere and Heartless Bastards' A Beautiful Life. He plans to fly back and forth frequently for tracking sessions, and lists upcoming commitments to prove it.

"Good Danny's is staying as is," he says. "We've got to finish the new Tele Novella record and the new Star Parks. Bayonne's record's almost done. We've got new Sun June stuff coming out. Lord Buffalo in December. I've been here making records in Austin for 20 years, so a huge part of me is here and always will be."

On the film side, Reisch will mix the upcoming Terrence Malick film with Austin-based composer Hanan Townshend. The two collaborated on nature documentary Fathom, where the mixer shaped otherworldly whale communications in surround sound. Reisch says he was raised in the visual world by a photographer father who teaches film history classes.

"For something under the ocean, I can pan stuff all around your head and really envelope the listener," he adds on Fathom, out now on Apple TV+. "It's really creative, and a new way to solicit emotion and engage people, which is all we're trying to do with music anyway. So, just a different format of storytelling."

Earlier this month, Reisch and his wife made their move after finding an all-too-perfect house previously owned by a film mixer, with a studio already constructed in the backyard. After customizing a bit, the producer also plans to host musicians there, including Austin acts. The studio's Hollywood-oriented add-ons may come in handy too.

"The studio will not be 100% for film or for music – I will be doing both, all the time," he says. "So, I will have a very big movie screen for the film score stuff. I don't know, maybe we'll put like Koyaanisqatsi on while we're mixing records, just to put us in the zone."

Groover’s Paradise Record Shop, Remembered

Greg Ellis at Groover’s Paradise (Courtesy of Greg Ellis)

Groover's Paradise Record Shop, a quaint, poster-lined store nestled in Lake Travis' Oasis shopping complex for the past six years, closed permanently on August 1. I've been meaning to catch up with owner Greg Ellis, an oh-so-kind wealth of musical knowledge, ever since. Speaking last week, the vinyl veteran says the shop was never able to catch up after some three mid-pandemic months with virtually no income.

"The lockdown was tough on us, and then the freeze in February was just the icing on the cake," says Ellis. "We were making do every year, but there wasn't much margin for error. To have two events like that back-to-back was just more than we could take."

He also mentions national interruptions to the distribution chain for new vinyl, worsened by COVID-19. Opened in 2015, Ellis says he set up the shop "like a salon" with chairs to encourage conversation over his majority-used treasure trove of music. Hear the bearded guru expound on recommendations on the Groovin' at the Record Store YouTube series.

"The main thing I was selling at the shop was me, and the experience of coming in," he adds. "That was my currency, and what I miss the most – just having a wide variety of people coming in and talk about records. That's what I like to do, and what I've always done."

Ellis landed his first vinyl gig, age 15, at a Budget Tapes & Records in Jackson, Miss. After finishing up his studies at Texas State, owners Nancy and Bobby Barnard hired him as the first employee at San Marcos' legendary Sundance Records. He worked on the label side of the business in Houston before opening his Austin shop, with a title honoring Doug Sahm's 1974 album.

"I got to do what I love for almost 50 years, and very few people can say that," says Ellis. "As a kid growing up in Jackson, the idea that I could make a living [in the music business] – I might as well have been an astronaut, you know?"

With the Groover's Paradise stock inherited by a business partner, Ellis looks for a gig outside music. For now, he's working weekends at Antone's Record Shop. You may also find him perusing Sundance Records' new location, reborn after the 2020 passing of Bobby Barnard.

He recommends: "That's a restaurant down in San Marcos called Herbert's Taco Hut. That's a great day trip, to go down there and get a big plate of sloppy Tex-Mex and then go to the record store."

Other Outgoing Music Businesses

The BARn on Brodie Lane closed its doors on Oct. 1 with a performance by the Ernie Durawa Band. Owners Anita and Dennis Dunn never planned to run a South Austin music venue, but rather faced permitting issues while attempting to open an Olympic curling facility on the 1.7-acre property. Opened in 2015, the space hosted food trucks and regular live music. Oye Taquito, Winston's Kitchen, and mobile hair salon flAir Style Lounge remain on-site.

Dry Creek Cafe & Boat Dock hosts a last shindig Oct. 31, lineup TBA. Longtime owner Jay "Buddy" Reynolds, who inherited the business from his mother/original owner Sarah Ransom, recently sold the Lake Austin dive bar to an unknown buyer. Fans rallied with an Instagram account (@savedrycreekcafe) honoring the 68-year-old establishment, known for a 45-rpm jukebox and sunset views from the rooftop deck. Bar manager Elly Barksdale posted that the building does not face demolition, but will be used "to create some sort of a day camp-type situation for orphaned children."

Tanya Tucker at Nutty Brown Cafe in 2013 (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Nutty Brown Amphitheatre's final weekend lands Nov. 26 and 27, headlined by Pat Green and Randy Rogers Band. The Hill Country venue opened in 2000 on the site of Nutty Brown Mills, a Fifties flour and candy shop. Landowner H-E-B plans to open a store on the 20-acre lot, but allowed the amphitheatre years to find a new location. Back in 2015, the city of Round Rock sold McNeil Park to Nutty Brown owner Mike Farr. Following lengthy delays, the business posted their new location will open in 2022 as a "brand new concept will have a larger capacity [with] shows across a wide variety of genres."

ACL Sorry for Pulling Plug on Phoebe Bridgers

Phoebe Bridgers tweeted "lol fuck acl" after the sound was cut off ending her Zilker Park performance last Saturday. Fest organizers said the incident was due to "a miscommunication on stage" with staff, adding: "We wish this had not happened and extend our apologies to Phoebe. After positive conversations between festival organizers and the artist about the situation, ACL Fest has made a donation to Texas Abortion Funds to show our support for Phoebe and an organization close to her heart."

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Danny Reisch, Good Danny's, Greg Ellis, Sun June, Star Parks, Heartless Bastards, Groover's Paradise, Sundance Records, Nutty Brown Amphitheater, the bARN

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