Sweetwater All Stars to Release Debut Album January 13

Ten R&B / Soul gems performed by Sweetwater team


Shown Left to Right
Back row:  Don Carr, Mark Hornsby, Phil Naish, Nick d’Virgilio
Middle Row:  Chuck Surack, John Hinchy, Brett Kelsey
Front row:  Bob Bailey, Kat Bowser


Fort Wayne, IN – January 4, 2018 -- Led by Sweetwater Founder and President Chuck Surack, the Sweetwater All Stars will release their eponymous debut album on January 13. The Sweetwater All Stars album features a cast and crew drawn from the Sweetwater family playing ten of their favorite R&B and soul songs, as well as classic songs reinterpreted as fresh R&B productions. 

One of two popular bands featuring the talents of Surack, the 9-piece Sweetwater All Stars band has been gigging in the Fort Wayne area for several years. The genesis of the band reaches back to a casual big band that Chuck put together for fun to play some of the music from his large collection of big band charts. The core of that band, saxophonist Surack and bassist (and Sweetwater Studios’ Vice President of Operations) Mark Hornsby, realized they shared a love for classic, horn-driven R&B and soul music. They started recruiting like-minded musicians from the Sweetwater family, and the Sweetwater All Stars were born. 

The band quickly began gigging and today maintains a busy schedule with a monthly residency at a local club, appearances at the many festivals held in Fort Wayne annually, an annual concert/jam session held at Sweetwater's GearFest, and gigs at a wide range of charity and community events.

The heartbeat of the band is the rhythm section, whose core is drawn from the Muscle Shoals–style in-house band of musicians residing in Sweetwater Studios. World-renowned drummer and Sweetwater video personality Nick D'Virgilio holds down the groove and provides vocals. Nick gets low-end assistance from two alternating bass players: Mark Hornsby and longtime Nashville stalwart, and now Sweetwater Studios producer/engineer/bass player, Dave Martin. Sweetwater Studios' Grammy and Dove Award–winning keyboardist/arranger/producer Phil Naish, alternating with Jeff Gastineau, drives the keyboard chair. Popular Sweetwater video personality Don Carr draws on his nearly 25 years of experience as a Nashville session guitarist and touring musician with the Oak Ridge Boys in his dual role as the band's music director and guitarist. 

Filling out the sound of the Sweetwater All Stars is the horn section, consisting of Chuck Surack on saxophone, Sweetwater's Brett Kelsey on trumpet, and Nashville's John Hinchey (who utilizes his skills as go-to horn arranger for Sweetwater Studios and does the arrangements for the All Stars) on trombone, alternating with Marcus Farr. Out front, vocalist/guitarist Bob Bailey (who heads up the Sweetwater Academy and leads the company's annual GearFest event) and vocalist Kat Bowser (vocal instructor at the Sweetwater Academy and session vocalist for Sweetwater Studios, whose credits include tours with Oleta Adams, Jon Secada, and Sam Moore — and who is legendary for her Janis Joplin tribute shows) deliver authentic performances loaded with pure R&B heart and soul. 

Special guests on The Sweetwater All Stars album include several Nashville A-list session horn players, as well as Musicians Hall of Fame inductee Jim Horn (Diana Ross, Linda Ronstadt, Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner, the Rolling Stones, and three of the Beatles, among countless others) on baritone and bass saxophones.

The album, featuring 10 smoking-hot R&B songs, was tracked and mixed by Mark Hornsby and his team of talented engineers and support staff at Sweetwater Studios. The tracks were recorded with an old-school approach. The rhythm section tracked live in Sweetwater Studios Studio A, which features a gorgeous-sounding live room with two isolation booths and a world-class control room loaded with best-of-the-best gear. Just two ribbon mics were used to capture the drums: a stereo overhead and a kick mic. Including the bass, keys, and guitar, each song used a total of just eight tracks for the rhythm section. Horns were recorded to six tracks, entirely with warm-sounding ribbon mics for a vintage flavor. Add in a few more tracks for vocals, backing vocals, and solos, and almost every song came in at 20 or fewer total tracks — nearly unheard-of in this day and age where hundreds of tracks per song is not unusual. The idea was to capture performances with all the energy and excitement of a live show.

The Sweetwater All Stars album will be available as a physical CD or as 16-bit/44.1kHz full-bandwidth WAV file downloads from Sweetwater.com. Downloads will also be available from the iTunes store or from Amazon.