"Eight-by-eight hemlock beams on close centers will go across these transverse members, notched. Then a sub-floor of two-inch pine. Then finish oak. Massive. It should weigh several tons. Wouldn't bounce a bit."
The barn at Long View Farm is perhaps the largest structure of its kind in central Massachusetts. Rebuilt in 1909 over the still warm embers of a structure burnt to the ground, by accident, the barn measures some two hundred feet long, and some sixty feet wide. It's about seventy-five feet tall, measuring from the crest of the roof, which runs roughly north and south, to the bottom of the pit where the manure's thrown.
The beams in the basement are three feet in diameter, and chestnut. There are no more chestnut trees growing in the northeast, due to a blight in the thirties. The barn is painted Disney red, with white trim.
Geoff Myers led the way that night, moving in long strides across the gravel drive and into the barn through the large red sliding door. It takes two people to push this door open or shut, and so it's usually left partly open. Up the stairs we went, and into Studio B, which is our 16-track room --- very large, spacious, and wooden. Most of our jazz dates are recorded in Studio B; all of our new wave gigs and local demos are done there, and the J. Geils Band ties up this studio once a year, for several months, because of the electrifying drum sound we can get in it. Through Studio B we went, through Control Room B, up the carpeted stairs and out the door into the empty and unimproved loft.
The loft is enormous, and feels as big as a football field when you're standing inside, even though it's not anywhere near that big. It was in the north end of the loft that we eventually began our work for the Rolling Stones, aided by a brace of temporary floodlights, fans to blow the fifty years of dust, dead flies, and chicken droppings out into the air, and a team of workers which, all told, numbered in the low hundreds. Two hundred and fifty, if my guess agrees with Kathleen's checkbook, which it does.
Tonight, however, the loft was unlit, and smelled of hay which lay stacked high in one corner. Two barn swallows careened in crazy circles over our heads, sharing space with a startled bat. Ten years' accumulation of lumber, barnboards, and beams scavenged from other barns in the area filled the two stalls across from the hay. A mouse scampered out of one of the bales of hay, and quickly disappeared into another.
"Up here, Gil." Geoff Myers was thumping onto the top of one of the beams which ran horizontally, from one side of the barn to the other, about five feet above floor level. "This'll be the level of the stage. There'll be stairs leading up onto it. It'll be triple thickness. Eight-by-eight hemlock beams on close centers will go across these transverse members, notched. Then a sub-floor of two-inch pine. Then finish oak. Massive. It should weigh several tons. Wouldn't bounce a bit."
"How much for all this, Geoff?" I asked.
"Ten, maybe twenty, depending how nice we want to fix it up."
"And time? August 17th is just three and a half weeks away."
"Be tight. Depends on the availability of the wood, too. I called Nigel's sawmill tonight, but he's fishing somewhere with his kid. Left a call-back with his wife."
"We're going to start tomorrow, on general principles," John Farrell chimed in. "The place needs a clearing out anyhow. Danny Avila and a couple of other kids are coming by at ten o'clock tomorrow to help, since there's a lot of hay and wood to move. Then we'll have a better idea what we're looking at."
"Great," I said. I was always in favor of in-principle upgradings of the Farm, and most of them occurred under high-pressure circumstances like these. Name band or recording artist considering Long View, but requires "fill in the blank." Sauna, acoustic chamber, jacuzzi, video room, new bathroom on the third floor, magnetic interlock between our large two-inch tape machines, a fully proportioned sound stage, you name it.
"Great," I said. "We've always wanted a sound stage, anyway. Let's go." .
All original material copyright © Gilbert Scott Markle. All rights reserved.