by Eli Groener
Behind a red door on Southfield's main street is a recording studio called Off the Beat-n-Track. The company is owned by Todd Mack and operated by Todd and his partnet, sound engineer Will Curtiss. Opening that red door of the barn behind Todd Mack's house, one enters a fully equipped, professional recording studio.
Todd, who grew up in Westchester County and went to Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, is a skilled musician who playes the guitar and sings. He has been in the recording business ever since he left college sixteen years ago. Todd and his wife, Carrie, moved to Southfield in 1998. They love the Berkshires and think it's a great place to raise their two children.
While living in Atlanta, Todd met Daniel Pearl, the former Berkshire Eagle reporter who went on to become a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and was murdered last year in Pakistan. They were close friends and played music together. Since Danny’s death, Todd has been involved in several tributes to his friend. Mr. Pearl’s family has created an organization in his memory for the purpose of ending hate-based violence, and they had put out the word that Danny’s birthday, October 10, should become a day of world-wide music-making. Musicians as famous as Itzak Perlman and Paul McCartney participated in it, and so did Todd Mack, who arranged a special radio broadcast of music actually performed by Daniel Pearl. he also helped to organize a benefit performance of outstanding musicians in Boston in November that raised thousands of dollars for the new foundation in Pearl’ memory. Todd says that Daniel Pearl was a great person, and he hopes that something good will come out of the tragedy of his death.
Off the beat-n-Track offers a variety of services and caters to all types of music, including classical, jazz, rock, hip hop, and acoustic instrumentals. In addition, Todd and Will produce voice recordings for film and video, and do CD duplication and packaging for artists wishing to create batchs of 100 or so, rather than the usual minimum of 1,000 offered by larger CD producers. Off the Beat-n-Track also produces CDs for school and church groups, which can be used by the groups in fundraising efforts.
Todd says that his Southfield studio is able to offer the same services as studio is big cities like New York and Los Angeles. His strategy is to start locally and work outward. In fact, he feels that, by being in the Berkshires, his company is located in a central position relative to Boston New York, Hartford, and ALbany — all major markets. He and WIll are constantly amazed by the numbers of talented people in the music industry who are living right here in out own backyard.
Off the Beat-n-Track connects with local musicians by hosting occasional “house concerts” at the Southfield studio that are open to the public. A recent session in mid-January featured an evening with Hal Lefferts, a popular DJ at WKZE-FM in Sharon, Connecticut, along with one of the Berkshires’ greatest guitarists, Steve Ide. The two shared stories and songs in the comfortable atmosphere of the recording studio. This type of jam session happens on a regular basis. The studio is often packed with musicians, friends, and neighbors enjoying an evening of great music, a moment in time that is digitally preserved by Todd and Will.
Todd's interest in the local music scene has led to his creation of a weekly radio show (Thursday 10:00 - 11:00 p.m.) on WKZE 98.1 FM. Called the Off the Beat-n-Track Radio Hour, the show, which is pre-recorded at the studio, features the music of independent artists who live within the WKZE listening area, which includes Berkshire County, Litchfield County in Connecticut, and Columbia, Ulster, Greene, Duchess, and Orange County in New York. Todd concentrates on showcasing the work of musicians who are releasing their own product or who are produced by small companies.
So tune in to his show, or check out one of the house concerts behind the red door in Southfield!
Editors' Note: Eli Groener, who lives in Mill River, is in his junior year at Mount Everett Regional High School