Mark Neill: Sheet Iron Roof Chronicles

By James Calemine

It’s a new era. This Snake Nation Press Dispatch counts as my first in a long line of upcoming topics covering everything from literature, music, film, photography, food & drink and anything else that resonates on some timeless level.

Snake Nation Press exists as the oldest independent non-profit book publisher in south Georgia.

My two Snake Nation books–Insured Beyond The Grave (2017) & Insured Beyond The Grave Vol. 2 (June 28, 2018) are available on my website www.jamescalemine.com OR www.snakenationpress.org as well as bookstores. You can discover a treasure trove of books in the Snake Nation repertory.

Snake Nation Press operates in Valdosta, Georgia. Mark Neill, a subject in Insured Beyond The Grave Vol. 2, runs his vintage, Soil of the South recording studio a few streets over from Snake Nation Press. So, it makes sense to bring attention to this south Georgia vortex of talent now.

Neill won a Grammy as producer/engineer for the Black Keys’ album Brothers. I recorded my spoken word EP with Bloodkin at Neill’s Soil of the South Studio for my collection of fiction, The Local Stranger.

Neill grew up on a farm in a small town near Valdosta called Hahira. Neill scored a Warner Brothers record contract at 20. His 35 years in the art of sound design rank him as a highly sought after tone guru. Buy the Insured Beyond The Grave Vol. 2 book. Read the interview.

I spoke with Mark on July 12, and he discussed the tragic passing of his old friend, Richard Swift. “It’s been a sad week around here. Richard’s irreplaceable, really. And we stayed in touch until the end. The world is a darker place without him.

I asked Mark about his current ongoings at Soil of the South Studio. “Well, it’s been pretty hopping around here. Y’know, south Georgia has a certain vibe–a certain mojo. If an artist or band wants a low-to-the-ground analog sound–they come here. You can’t fake anything in south Georgia–especially music. So, artists record here because those expensive, airless studios do not inspire…or sound as good.
“We’re 60 miles from the Okefenokee Swamp. You want funk? Soul? Or just some gritty, timeless rock and roll? Soil of the South Studio is the place to record. This is the deep, deep south…”

More news on Mr. Neill soon.

To contact Mr. Neill: soilofthesouth@me.com

Shadetree Sawbones with James Calemine & Bloodkin Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Kz4SPLPVw0

Producer Dave Cobb on MN https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=te2aeVc9nTU

Photo credits: Dave Doyle, Matt Wigman & Coby Brooks
Other Snake Nation news will soon follow.
Stay tuned…