By Waldo L. Jaquith
For a few years now, teenaged musician Devon Sproule (most commonly known
as, simply, "devon")
has been Charlottesville's Chosen One, rumored to have been blessed by Dave
Matthews himself as The Next Big Thing.
One day she was playing on the Downtown Mall, guitar case open, playing Ani
Difranco covers and a few of her originals. The next, Dave Matthews Band
soundman Henry Luniewski was mixing sound for her and Stefan Lessard's
sister-in-law, Jess Baucom, was managing her. A few months later, her
first album, eponymously titled, appeared in local record stores and was
met with much good press
and buzz around Charlottesville.
|Devon's premiere album is startlingly excellent.
The disc featured DMB's bassist, Stefan Lessard, and was produced and mixed
by John Alagia and Jeff Juliano,
both of whom have worked extensively with Dave Matthews Band. It was a sure
Then came the touring. Around C'ville, little was heard about devon for
many months. What had happened? Where was the rising star?
Come to find out, she was hard at work. After countless gigs along the east
coast, devon created enough songs to record her second album,
"Long Sleeve Story." Beginning in January, she had been slaving
away in recording paradise: Dave Matthews Band's Virginia studio.
. . .
Evening has fallen. I'm driving down a bumpy gravel road off Albemarle
County's Route 20, about 15 minutes outside of Charlottesville. Jess and
devon are leading, in the Subaru in front of me, and each turn leads us onto
smaller and dustier roads. I have no idea how I'll ever find my way back
home. Finally, we stop, and I realize that we've arrived at the mythical
Dave Matthews Band studio. I pull myself out of my Volvo, remembering to
grab the bottle of red wine that I brought for my hosts, and look around.
This studio looks a lot like a house. In fact, it is a house. A really
huge one. devon gives me the grand tour. The rambling structure is almost
entirely empty, save for the rooms that Stefan and Jess have claimed for
themselves. Just when I realize that I'm lost, we head back down a back
staircase and find ourselves in the studio.
|Stefan Lessard is working hands-on with a little-known artist.
At the far end of the long room is a tremendous assortment of instruments: a
dozen guitars, as many basses, Carter Beauford's drum set, several keyboards
and, oddly, a couple of turntables. Immediately in front of me is the
recording equipment. There are thousands of blinking lights, hundreds of
knobs and levers, and dozens of threatening-looking electronic boxes.
Atop the whole assembly is a tent that consists of a metal framework draped
with the elephant backdrop used behind the stage at DMB concerts during
their 1995 tour. Incongruously, a glass chandelier hangs from the tent
framework. Various decorations adorn the equipment: a stuffed marmoset, Big
Bird dolls, a blowfish, huge lava lamps, half a dozen plastic lizards.
Children's playthings among sophisticated electronics. I can't escape the
feeling that I'm among a bunch of kids that have stumbled across some
"It's very organic." >>
Text ©2001, nancies.org. Photos by devon.