ALBANY — Daniel Watson knows his way around a recording studio.
Before he came to Albany to join up with local musicians and form the band This Solid Ground, Watson developed a reputation as a go-to producer amid the bustling Atlanta music scene. He did so well, in fact, he received a Grammy nomination for his work with Jay Cole on the rapper’s “Dreamville” project.
Now, two years into his stay in Albany, Watson has teamed with his girlfriend, Britny Wray, to turn a once-favorite Albany restaurant/music venue into something of a Bohemian gathering place that is expected to bring people back to downtown Albany.
The first phase of the pair’s concept has already been greenlit, as Wray recently opened the Broken Heart Bakery on Pine Avenue. Lesser known, but certainly no less exciting, is the transformation of the upstairs portion of the downtown building into a recording studio/entertainment venue that will debut Saturday when popular Albany artists BoDean and the Poachers perform.
“I saw this space, and I fell in love with it, started planning on what we could do here,” Watson said as he showed a visitor around his equipment-filled studio. “I’ve named it ‘The Study,’ because that’s the kind of vibe you get here. It has a touch of elegance, looks like a space where you’d have leather-bound books and mahogany.
“I’ve built — or I’m in the process of building, I still have work to do — a sound booth for recording, and we’ll start setting up the performance area next week to get ready for the first show. I envision it being like an MTV Unplugged venue, not necessarily acoustic instruments but an intimate setting with seating so that the performers can interact with the audience.”
Watson said This Solid Ground is taking a “COVID-influenced hiatus,” during which the members are all busy with other projects. He said TSG members are working on writing new material but are all “so busy right now we haven’t had time to work together through this quarantine period.”
Watson said much of the concept surrounding the Pine Avenue space will evolve over time. In addition to serving sweets in the downstairs bakery, Wray is working to get an alcohol license so that alcoholic beverages may be served during musical performances. And, in an effort to bring some of the Atlanta and nationwide musical excitement to Albany, the musician/producer said he’s trying to encourage two of the most influential underground artists he still does production work for — Atlanta’s Rittz and Houston’s Trae Tha Truth, both of whose music he records in their hometowns and mixes in Albany — to come to the region.
“When we were looking at the place and went out back, it dawned on me that this building used to be where Harvest Moon was and where they had The Lot,” he said. “I played here all the time when I was in a high school band from Americus. We may very well try to bring that concept back.”
Watson is currently doing studio work with BoDean and the Poachers as well as side solo projects for Unbreakable Bloodline members Jon Smith and O’she Tyght.
“I want to do a lot of shows here and host some music industry mixers,” Watson said. “I love Albany, and I want to do all I can to help it grow. The way we’ll be able to do that is for all of us to work together. I’ve been reaching out to as many artists as I can contact; I talked with several at the (Q-102) Honey Jam. I want them to know anyone (interested in recording) is welcome.”
Saturday’s Poachers show will require a $5 cover charge at the door. Broken Heart Bakery will be open, and there will be a bar at the event.