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Bill McElroy:
Associate Producer and "Soundsmith"

Fortunately, when TortoiseClimbing Audio™ began Phase II Mr. Bill McElroy's life had evolved and he had started his new recording studio in Ashland, VA. Thus, he was available to replace Ms. Gerber-Salins as recording engineer, and also agreed to become Associate Producer and mastering engineer.

Bill McElroy in studio

Note 1. When David began recording at Bias, Bill was was partner at Bias Recording Studio and was the recording engineer for TortoiseClimbing Audio™'s first private album. (See About TortoiseClimbing.)

(Note 2. An original rough master of the Phase I draft of Hymns and Songs of My Mother was prepared by Mr. Chrlie Pilzer of Air Show. That was used as a guide in reconstructing the digital audio files after the conversion from analogue master tapes. Mr. Pilzer now runs Tonal Park located in Tokoma Park, MD.)

Bill began his audio career in high school in about 1964 with his school friend, Mr. Bob Dawson, recording in the basement of Bob's parents home. They worked with artists like Nils Lofgren, Roy Buchanan and the group Grin. Mr. McElroy’s early experience also included working at then Suburban Sound, Inc., in Bethesda Maryland, building recording consoles. 

He was drafted into the Army and spent two years building and repairing radios for them. After which, Mr. McElroy returned home to the recording and producing industry, which included obtaining a position in 1970 for a year at Edgewood Recording Studio, in Northwest Washington, D.C.

The fact that Edgewood Recording Studio was once an employer of Mr. McElroy is an interesting illustration of how small the recording world was then in Washington, DC.

Fague Springmann

Edgewood was the recording studio where Prof. Fague Springmann recorded numerous albums (then all vinyl LPs). He had a magnificent operatic bass-baritone voice. Prior to being recruited to come to the University of Maryland's music department as an Associate Professor, Mr. Springmann had performed under his stage name of Lee Fairfax as a member of the New York City Opera company. He also had appeared with the:

As Associate Professor in the music department, one of his responsibilities was as director of the choir David sang with as an undergraduate. In addition to his position as an Associate Professor in the University of Maryland music department, he also continued from time to time being engaged as soloist for various large choral productions, where he advocated use of his choir from the University of Maryland.

The importance to this story is that Mr. Springmann successfully facilitated use on his choir as the accompaning choir for various of his performances. That provided outstanding performance experiences David got to be part of.

Ed (or David) Greene

Mr. Greene established Edgewood studio with a couple partners in about 1958. He moved back to New York, NY in about 1970 as senior engineer with MGM recording. He would go on to become a very successful TV post production sound engineer and movie audio engineer. He moved to Toronto, Canada in 1971 and made his home there. He was active with both the Audio Engineering Society (AES) and the Cinema Audio Society (CAS).

A few of Mr. Greene's bios say that when he went to MGM recording it was to (LA) California, where the movie studio was. However, the MGM audio recording studio referred to very likely was located in New York city, which at that time was where virtually all TV work then occurred, although it could have reported to LA.

Ed (David) Greene was Mr. Springmann's recording engineer when at Edgewood in Washington, DC, and Bill McElroy's boss for an instant at Edgewood. For more information about the interesting career progressions of David(Ed) Greene, see the following for bios about Ed (David) Greene:

Audio Engineering Society;
The Nautiloids; and
DEADLINE Hollywood.

-- End of window on Small world --

In 1971 Bill left Edgewood and took up running his own business out of his house, recording mostly government and public service ad work. That led to sub-leasing space above the lead Ad agency in Falls Church, VA. Then when Bill became too busy by 1973, Bob Dawson came in full time. By then they had purchased or built enough recording gear that they decided it made sense to formally establish their own company, which they called Bias Recording Company, Inc. They continued operating out of the same small commercial space in Falls Church, VA as Bias continued to grow. Eventually a larger, more capable location was needed.

Mr. McElroy co-designed and managed construction/renovation of what at that time was the ambitious half million dollar (in 1979 dollars) recording complex, which is still operating in Springfield, VA with Bob Dawson. It is located just 15 minutes (non-rush) south of downtown Washington DC. Studio A, the largest studio at the Springfield location included a forty-input, thirty-two-output, Automated Process, Inc. (API) automated recording console, with 24 track analogue master tape and two sonically separated large performance/ recording spaces. Bias Studios moved to that new location in 1980.

Under Mr. McElroy's leadership, Bias became the dominant music recording studio in the Mid-Atlantic area. They produced many Grammy award winners, several "Gold" albums and one "Double-Platinum" album. They won the Washington Area Music Association's (WAMA) Best Studio Award in 1988, 1989 and 1990.

In his capacity as partner at Bias, Mr. McElroy became a significant mentor to a new 1991 hire, Ms. Heidi Leah Gerber-Salins. (When Mr. McElroy left Bias several years later she would become Mr. Goettee's recording engineer and producer.) See Heidi Leah Gerber-Salins

To this day, numerous artists and various service bands repeatedly record at Bias studio.

In 1993, for personal reasons Mr. McElroy left Bias and pursued a life-long dream as a railroad buff. Initially he worked for AMTRAK as an Assistant Train Director, K Tower Interlocking, at Union Station, Washington, D.C. Subsequently, he worked for ENSCO, Inc.

The ENSCO group of companies provide engineering, science and advanced technology solutions for mission success, safety and security. It does business in the Aerospace, Avionics, National Security and Rail sectors.

With ENSCO he continued his railroad buff dream, operating a Track Geometry Measurement System servicing the Southern Pacific Railroad.

However a couple years later in 1995, his EX moved to the Richmond area. To be near his son, Bill moved to Richmond and returned to working in the audio industry by establishing a mastering studio focusing on the market created by the growing trend of making home-studio recordings. That studio was located in Scott's Addition, Richmond, VA. Then, 6 years later in 2001, he established the full service recording studio, SlippedDISC in Ashland, Virginia. Ashland is the next town north of the Richmond Bypass and a few miles south of Kings Dominion amusement park at Doswell.

So, he again became available, and in 2019 TortoiseClimbing Audio™ turned to Mr. McElroy at Slipped Disc for Phase II of completing the Hymns and Songs of My Mother project.

Ashland is geographically a very nice sized incorporated town that refers to itself as "the center of the Universe." That reference goes back many years referring to its central location both in Hampton county, and in the State of Virginia. Functionally Ashland is becoming a northern exurb of Richmond, Virginia. It is 8 miles north of the Richmond Bypass (I-295), and a few miles south of Kings Dominion theme park at Doswell, VA. Among other things, it is a Railroad and College town.

Railroad Town. It was originally developed by the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad (RF&P) in the 1840s as a Mineral Springs resort with a racetrack. It was incorporated in 1858. (The Civil War began in 1861. RF&P is now a subdivision of the CSX Transportation system.)

Tycoon Frank Jay Gould (youngest son of Jay Gould) as part of a much larger plan, established an electrified interurban line between Richmond and Ashland in 1907, and the town became an early streetcar suburb of Richmond. It was originally called the Richmond-Chesapeake Bay Railway Company. As part of the larger plan, Gould intended to build further, but the stock market panic of October 21, 1907 made investors nervous and no further construction occcurred. That interurban line stopped operations December 20, 1917, and was then put up for auction in August 1918.

In 1919, local Ashland investors Oliver J. Sands and Jonathan Bryan bought the franchise and on April 15, 1919 the Richmond-Ashland Railway was chartered. It operated until Tuesday, March 22, 1938 when the last trolley left Ashland. The copper wire and rails were sold for scrap.

Thus, the electrified interurban passenger rail line to Ashland was built and operated during the period of large expansion of interurban rail lines that began in 1900 and declined beginning in the early 1920 after WWI, and especially during the Great Depression of the early 1930's. A few still exist in Europe and Japan.

Promotion of travel by car via tax subsidized roads took passenger traffic away from the privately financed interurbans. That is exemplified in the Richmond-Ashland case by the 1918 establishment of Virginia state route 1, which in 1926 was designated as part of U.S. 1 running from Richmond through Ashland. (See Interurban).

A set of double mainline Rail tracks run thru the middle of Ashland at grade level. There are plans to upgrade rail service from Wahington, DC south, including at places adding third and fourth sets of rails. As part of the planning, there was a controversial recommendation to add a third set of rails through Ashland. The town, including the College, were concerned that a third set of rails through town would have a negative impact on the character of the center of the community clustered around railroad avenue. The final planning decision (for now) is to leave the double tracks through Ashland as they are.

College Town. Randolph–Macon College was originally established in 1830 in Boydton, near the North Carolina border, originally as a Methodist seminary. As part of the Civil War the railroad link to Boydton was destroyed, as were many throughout the South, including for Ashland. The mainline railroad that runs through Ashland was rebuilt, but not the link to Boydton. Three years after the end of the Civil War, in 1868 the college's trustees decided to relocate the school to Ashland, to be near a mainline railroad service. Randolph-Macon is the oldest Methodist-run college in continuous operation in the country. It predates Northwest University in Chicago, which was founded 21 years later in 1851. Randolph-Macon is a small, private, liberal arts college offering bachelors degrees.

-- End of Window about Ashland, VA --

Bill McElroy in Slipped DISC studio

Mr. McElroy's new studio, Slipped DISC, is located at 209 England Street, adjacent to the recently restored Art Deco Ashland Movie Theater. SlippedDISC is several long blocks west of I-95 and about a block east of the CSX double railroad tracks through Ashland, on which Amtrak passenger trains also run.

Bill McElroy in Slipped DISC studio

Just as he did when creating Bias Studio in Springfield, Virginia, Mr. McElroy designed and managed construction of the Slipped DISC studio facilities. His new studio provides space and sonic accuracy as a state-of-the-art studio. It is deliberately smaller than the one he helped establish as a partner at Bias in Springfield, VA in 1980.

He refers to himself as a “Soundsmith,” for Editing, Mixing, and Mastering. For more insights about SlippedDISC, see February 17, 2020 article about Bill McElroy by BJ Camano in the online magazine RVA (Richmond Virginia Art) at:
The ART of Soundsmithing with SlippedDISC Audio's Bill McElroy



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