Michelle and the Pine Mountain Studio Team
Michelle Schmitt is a singer/songwriter who was born in Detroit and started playing guitar and writing songs when she was 12 years old. She moved to San Francisco in 1977. Gifted with a soulful voice, the ability to express her feelings through her heartfelt songwriting and a talented band, Michelle delivers songs that stand the test of time. Schmitt has a sultry and indefinable voice — part soul, part rock, part twang and all enticing. Her earthy vocals and intelligent lyrics ooze soulful love and longing. Growing up in Detroit, Michelle was exposed to great music and credits artists like Joni Mitchell, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, CSN & Y, Carole King, Eva Cassidy, Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, Phoebe Snow, Sade, Stevie Nicks & Natalie Merchant for her inspiration as a singer and songwriter. In 2005 Michelle was asked to contribute a song on a record featuring six Grammy winners and two Rock & Roll Hall of Famers (including Bonnie Raitt, Kenny Loggins, Bill Medley, Roseanne and Johnny Cash, Rodney Crowell, Beth Neilsen Chapman and Mike & the Mechanics). Michelle opened Lilysong Records in Muir Beach, Marin County in the early part of 2001. In 2006, Michelle opened the doors to her state of the art San Francisco studio, Harrison Street Records and opened Pine Mountain Studio in Alexander Valley in 2008. Michelle has worked with some amazing musicians and engineers in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and Nashville. Michelle organizes an annual benefit concert to help feed the hungry. Details to follow. 100% of the proceeds of the band’s annual December benefit concert goes to feed the hungry in her San Francisco/Bay Area community. Michelle continues her collaboration and musical partnership with her friend, band mate, music director and co-producer, Ricky Fataar. Proceeds of every record that Michelle records and produces go to worthwhile causes ranging from feeding the homeless to youth drug rehabilitation programs. Giving back what she has so generously been given drives Michelle in all areas of her life.
Ricky Fataar is a South African musician and drummer. He is a famed band member of “The Rutles” from South Africa. In 1968 the band moved to London and began touring England. On one of their tours, a member of The Beach Boys, Carl Wilson, spotted them. Carl was impressed by their talent and offered to sign them to the Beach Boys new record label Brother Records. The band moved to Los Angeles and they recorded and released their 1970 album “The Flame” with Carl Wilson producing. The Beach Boys then recruited Fataar in 1971. Fataar has been involved in numerous film and television scoring and produced the music for various films including The Coca-Cola Kid. For the last twenty five years, Fataar has been a member of Bonnie Raitt’s band. Ricky is not only a valued member of Michelle’s band, but serves as Music Director for the band. Ricky and Michelle have co-produced her last six records and have become a solid team for all future music projects. Ricky was also instrumental in the design and creation of Pine Mountain Studio in Alexander Valley.
Born in Staten Island, NY, George Marinelli has over 40 years of experience in the music business, both on guitars and vocals, as well as writing and producing. Living in Los Angeles from 1963 to 1991, Marinelli played clubs, recording sessions, wrote, and toured. George played guitar for Billy and the Beaters from 1978 to 1982, for Jimmie Wood and The Immortals from1980 to 1984, and was a founding member of Bruce Hornsby and The Range from 1982 to 1991. Relocating to Nashville in 1991, George has continued his career through session work, writing, and producing. In 1993, George joined Bonnie Raitt’s band, and has been with them ever since. Marinelli has been recording and producing indie projects in WingDing Studios, after forming WingDing Records briefly in 2000. Additionally, George is currently performing and recording solo and with Air Parma. George joined Michelle’s band in 2009 and has become a much trusted band member and friend. George is the lead guitarist as well as our magical mandolin man. He contributes so much to each record he plays on.
Marc Levine is an accomplished bass player. His first gold record as a session bassist was with Johnny Rivers, playing on the song “Slow Dancin’, Swayin’ To The Music”. Some other artists he worked for either live or in the studio included Barry Manilow, Bette Midler, Dionne Warwick, Olivia Newton-John, Melissa Manchester, Michael Damien, David Hasselhoff, Burt Bacharach, and Kid Creole in the pop music field: Dianne Schuur, Rosemary Clooney, and Gerry Mulligan in the jazz arena: The Undisputed Truth, Freddie Stewart (Sly Stone’s guitarist brother) in the funk zone: and K.T. Oslin in the country music area. He also played on sessions for Steve Perry and Jonathan Cain (2 members of the rock group Journey), and guitarist Jimmy Crespo, who was with Aerosmith at the time. Marc has been a member of Michelle’s band since 2009 and as she says “is the perfect bandmate”. He has worked on the last 4 records she has made.
Chris Carmichael is a musician and arranger born in San Antonio, Texas. After his formal training, he began a career as a touring musician for various artists in several genres. He was signed by Atlantic Records in NYC then Warner/Chappell but remained a Nashville resident. In the early 1990s, Chris transitioned into full-time studio work and arranging. His orchestral arrangements have been performed by major groups such as the Boston Pops Orchestra. Carmichael’s television and radio appearances include the 71st Academy Awards, The Tonight Show, The Academy of Country Music Awards, The Country Music Association Awards, CBS Morning Show, The View, A Prairie Home Companion, and many others. Arrangements of distinction include the string quartet arrangement of Tim McGraw’s “If You’re Reading This, which originally aired at the 2007 Academy of Country Music awards show, and later became a single release. His contributions to film soundtracks include Down in the Valley, The Sapphires, & Shrek 2. Chris contributes all string arrangements for Michelle’s records. She is forever grateful for the beauty he brings to her songs.
British born Michael Spriggs, is an A-String Nashville session guitarist, producer, writer and composer. He started his Nashville career in 1971 as MD and lead guitarist for Eddie Rabbitt for five years playing on 8 #1 songs for Eddie. He moved on to a full time session player and writer for Warner Bros and EMI. He has played for the likes of: Faith Hill, Toree McGhee, Colt Ford, LeAnn Rimes, Martina Mc Bride, Waylon Jennings, Trick Pony,Lee Roy Parnell, Alabama, Suzy Boggus, Hank Williams Jr, BB King, John Michael Montgomery, Rebecca Lynne Howard, Trace Adkins, Pam Tillis, Elton John, Tanya Tucker Lorrie Morgan, Paulette Carlson,Tammy Wynette, Kenny Rogers, Lila Mc Canne, Eddy Arnold to name a few. He has written one #1 and two top 5 country songs. “Twenty Years Ago” by: Kenny Rogers, “If There’s Any Justice” by: Lee Greenwood and “The Car” by: Jeff Carson. He has a separate career as a successful instrumentalist releasing five albums.
Lewis Patzner joins Michelle and her band for her annual benefit concert to feed the hungry. Lewis started playing metal violin and cello duets on the streets in Berkeley, California in 2002. He received a B.M. in cello performance from the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins in 2007. He is a founding member of Judgement Day along with his brother Anton. His music was described by Strings Magazine as “a master class in the seemingly boundless possibilities of signal-processed, electronic string music and a testament to the band’s creativity.”
Graham Patzner joined Michelle alongside his brothers, Anton & Lewis, who have been playing music with Michelle for a few years now. He is a multi-talented guitar player and has a golden voice. He attended Rutgers University. Michelle is planning an acoustic project that Graham will play on as well as join her, and his brothers for Michelle’s annual benefit concert to feed the hungry. Everyone at HSR and Pine Mountain Studios welcomes Graham.
Michael Bluestein is a pianist, keyboardist, singer/songwriter, composer and record producer originally from Massachusetts. He has been a member of the rock group Foreigner since 2008, and has been a high profile touring keyboardist and vocalist since moving to Los Angeles in 2003. Bluestein began classical piano studies at age nine, and started playing pop, jazz and soul music when he reached his teens where he attended Brookline High School, located in Brookline, Massachusetts just outside of Boston. Bluestein attended Berklee College of Music in Boston. Shortly after receiving his B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley, Bluestein moved to San Francisco where he spent 10 years highly involved in the Bay Area music scene. Moving to Los Angeles in 2003, Bluestein toured and recorded with Boz Scaggs (2003), Anastacia (2004–2006), Enrique Iglesias (2007–2008), Roger Hodgson (2009) and with Foreigner (2008–present). He has also done occasional performances with Burt Bacharach and Stevie Nicks.
Paul was a very important part of the team at HSR and Pine Mountain Studio. He was also the studio manager for both studios. He was the lead guitarist in the beloved San Francisco-based indie band MOVER. Paul was talented and had a unique quality when working with bands and creating music. His commitment to helping musicians in the studio was so impressive. He gave so much of himself and taught many young bands coming up how to make their songs better and their bands stronger. Paul was also an accomplished guitarist and singer. Paul and Michelle recorded Covering Life. Check out their duets Love Hurts, Helplessly Hoping and Love Ain’t for Keeping. (All sales of this record will go directly to a special fund set up for Paul’s young son Noah.) Michelle and Paul had many plans for future projects and it is with great sadness that Paul passed away April 20, 2014, after fighting a long and brave battle with cancer. He died too young but will never be forgotten. That said, his name will never be taken off this band page. He will ALWAYS be a part of the music Michelle makes. RIP Paul. God Speed.
Sammy Fielding, our lead engineer and studio manager at HSR and Pine Mountain Studios is a passionate musician and engineer whose love for playing music is only matched by his love for recording those who play. Growing up in Santa Cruz, CA, he developed a keen interest in music, and began learning a variety of instruments. By age sixteen he had his heart set on a career in audio production. Through volunteering at a local recording studio, playing in and recording various bands, and producing solo work, Sammy got his foot in the door of the audio universe. At age 20 he moved to Berkeley, CA to study sound at Expression College for Digital Arts, and start Robot Envy Studio. Since then, Sammy has fostered his engineering career through working with amazing talent in the Bay Area and beyond, such as The Real Nasty, The Soft White Sixties, Rachel Fannan, Greylag, Lyrics Born, Forrest Day, Wedard, The Tumbleweed Wanderers, and his own bands, Noctooa, Foxtails Brigade, and Medicine Moon. In addition to Robot Envy, Sammy has worked at other Bay Area studios, including Megasonic Sound, Bay Records, and Ninth Street Opus. We are thrilled to have Sammy on board with his unique take on music and recording it.
HSR engineer Bijan Sharifi, is a multi-faceted musician, producer and audio engineer. Originally from Southern California, Bijan has spent the last 15 years performing and producing music for various projects spanning from symphonic orchestras to hardcore metal bands. His talents range from music production, film production/electronic media, live sound mixing, and live recording. After attaining a B.S. from Full Sail University in Sound Engineering, Bijan moved to San Francisco and began working with with some of the most talented emerging artists on the west coast. He joins HSR as Sammy’s second engineer for Michelle’s recording sessions with her music partner Ricky Fataar, and audio engineer at both Harrison Street Records & Pine Mountain. He is available for projects of all ranges. We are happy to welcome Bijan to the HSR family and look forward to hearing the music he produces within the walls of Harrison Street Records.
Chris Nishimoto is the newest member of Michelle’s engineering team. He is a well-known house engineer in the San Francisco Bay Area. Chris does all house mixes for Michelle’s shows and has recently started playing percussion with her band. Chris is also a talented assistant audio engineer and contributes to every recording session Michelle produces.
Marc Levine, Ricky Fataar, Michelle Schmitt, and George Marinelli