Creative minds: The Central City Recording guys

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

The people behind many a recording studio have envisioned their business as a hub and catalyst for the Columbus music scene. Few have been as successful at realizing that goal as the brain trust at Central City Recording.

"Our overriding mission statement is to provide a resource for the music scene and for the musicians here in town and as far as we can reach," explained studio president Andrew Dodson. "To that end, it has always been important to us to be as active in everything as possible. If we can help out, we're going to help out."

And they have. Dodson, Max Lewis, Ben Miller and Erik Smith are constantly seeking new ways to support the sounds coming out of this town.

They've had a hand in events including the Rock Potluck, ComFest, Agora, Independents Day and the Here Comes Your Weekend Parking Lot Blowout. They rent their studio, a state-of-the-art facility in a Clintonville storefront, to freelance engineers and offer it for free to charity projects like Blues for a Cure. Dodson, Lewis and Miller teach classes at Jazz Arts Group's Jazz Academy.

Besides the official affiliations, they're constantly out on the town seeing a wide range of local musicians in concert. They frequently serve as matchmakers, connecting people from varied corners of local music who might not otherwise cross paths.

"Now we've actually got an excuse to be at the bars five nights a week," Dodson said.

They do as much as they can to equip, expose and appreciate Columbus musicians because they understand that their success as a studio is intimately tied to everyone else.

"If we're going to be a piece of the puzzle, we have to know what the rest of the puzzle looks like," Dodson said.

Eventually, they dream of buying a building and opening a cooperative local arts and music complex, perhaps in the old Wonder Bread factory in Italian Village. For now, they'd be happy to see their current location booked 24/7.

Central City got an early credibility boost last year when Jon Chinn, whose recently shuttered Workbook Studio was among the city's most respected recording facilities, moved in as a resident engineer. That went a long way toward answering skeptics who saw Central City as a bunch of unknowns with a slick new studio and relatively pricy rates.

Today, Dodson, Lewis, Miller and Smith are just as recognizable around town. With every new connection, they come closer to making Central City the sort of local music headquarters they envisioned.

"The studio is sort of bigger than us," Lewis said. "It's a conduit for a lot of greater things that could happen. For greater things to happen, it can't just happen to us."