Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Noted Jazz Couple Plans Recording Studio for Former College Hill Church

By Christina Georgiou

Grammy-winning jazz drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts, with his
wife Laura Kahle and twin daughters Isis and Jelena, plan to
become College Hill residents this fall. The couple will
occupy the rectory of the former St. Peter's Lutheran Church,
and use the church itself as a practice and recording studio.
A former College Hill church that has been a video and television studio for the past six years is set to become the practice and recording studio of noted jazz musicians Jeff "Tain" Watts and Laura Kahle this fall after Easton's zoning hearing board unanimously approved a variance for the use.

The city's planning commission similarly unanimously approved the plan last month.

The couple plan to live in the church rectory with their twin 2 1/2-year-old daughters, Isis and Jelena.

The 19,048-square-foot church, which has a sound-proofed studio in the basement, will primarily be used for daily personal practicing and small ensemble rehearsals a few times a week, Watts told zoning hearing board members. His 16-piece New York City-based big band may also rehearse in the space a couple of times per year.

"Some performances may be in the sanctuary, which isn't soundproofed, but the walls are three feet thick," Watts said. "The structure is appealing because of the high ceiling. That makes it ideal for acoustics."

Rudy Vegliante, of Green Leaf Productions, the property's current owner, said there have been no noise complaints during the years his company used the space for filming and theatrical performances, which included the coming and going of production companies and live performances with an audience. The church can comfortably hold 225 people, but Watts' proposed use will not include inviting the public, he said.

Both he and Watts noted that the musical use will undoubtedly be quieter than the activities of the former St. Peters Lutheran Church at the 225 Porter St. location.

"It's private as far as I'm concerned," Watts said of his future musical space.

A seven-time Grammy winner, the drummer said he's particularly sensitive about being heard when he's practicing.

"I'm self-conscious about disturbing people," he told the zoning hearing board. "you're working on stuff you don't do so well. And, it's repetitive...I don't dig putting that on other people."

He's looking forward to the move to Easton from Brooklyn, he said.

"It's going to be a luxury or me to have access to a studio anytime I want," he said. "The priority is to have everything in one place, in a cool neighborhood for my family."

The new use as a music recording studio is very similar in use to the current use for video production, both Watts and Vegliante said, and neighbors are unlikely to even notice the change.

The former St. Peter's Lutheran Church at 225 Porter St.,
currently the video production studio of Green Leaf
Productions, is set to become the practice and recording
studio of noted jazz drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts.
Real estate listing photo

"I'm 53 years old," Watts said. "There are not going to be any slam dance parties. It's mostly going to be jazz and classical."

The property is fairly perfect as it is, too, he said.

"It won't need much," he said, adding that he will be bringing his own instruments and adding some recording equipment, but otherwise, he has no plans to alter anything.

Watts and Kahle, who plays the pocket trumpet and has recording credits to her name as well, will move to Easton in late September or early October, they estimated.

"We're looking forward to it," Kahle said.

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