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Label makers

By EMILY DONAHOE - IR Staff Writer - 10/22/04

Photo by George Lane IR Staff -
Bob in Control Room Bob in Control Room
Bob Baran poses in the control room of his studio recently.

"It doesn't matter where you're located, as long as you deliver the goods," says Helenan Bob Baran, who has been a sound producer in Montana for over 25 years.

Baran's successful career in the recording industry, despite being located in Helena, is evidence of the fact that he does, indeed, deliver. The state-of-the art studio he recently built with the help of his wife, Gwen, is further evidence of that fact.

After 25 years of producing for others, Baran realized a lifelong dream when he recently released seven CDs of original work on his new label, Gathering Wave, LLC.

Both Gwen and Bob say the year has been a whirlwind of learning new skills in order to complete the project. In the process of putting together the label, Gwen has picked up skills in Web design, graphic design, photography, and writing. Bob says that recording his own music meant taking a whole new approach.

"Talk about freaking out," he says of the experience, and adds, "If it wasn't for Gwen, I would not have been able to do this."

The Barans, who both say one of the best things about the project has been the amount of time they get to spend together, seem completely enamored of one another.

"I always wanted a song written for me," says Gwen, and adds, "now I have an entire body of work!"

Bob met Gwen, whom he calls "my muse," in 1999, and the two struck up a friendship. The first time Gwen visited Bob's home, he played her a song he wrote called "Always I'm Dreaming" (the song is on Bob's CD "Bridge to an Open Heart"). Gwen says the song, which is about the search for true love, seemed like it was written just for her.

"I had goosebumps," she recalls.

The two have been together ever since. In April 2001, the Barans broke ground on a new recording studio, which they built as an addition to Gwen's house.

"That was the first test of our love," Bob jokes.

When the studio was completed, Bob felt that the time was ripe to finally pursue his own music full time.

Bob plays the saxophone (and everything else) and studied jazz at Indiana University. He says he didn't know he could compose until, in 1979, he got into a recording studio and discovered he could utilize all of the instruments by working through a keyboard.

"It was an incredible epiphany," he said.

With his music, Bob says he's simply going for the "wow factor."

His compositions cover a variety of genres: jazz, urban contemporary, ambient, solo piano and others. Two of his CDs explore what Bob calls "the Martian experience."

"As a Scorpio," Bob says, "Mars is my planet."

Inspired by the idea of life elsewhere, he says "the Martian experience" is like a soundtrack to his imagination.

The covers of Bob's CDs were all created by Gwen using images from Bob's original artwork. In addition to her work with Gathering Wave, Gwen is also a painter, cook, dancer and jewelry maker, who seems to see an opportunity to be creative in everything she does.

The Barans say Gathering Wave will allow them to credibly distribute in the marketplace. The goal is to sign other artists who embody their vision of the label. The Barans say they will look for artists with an original musical voice who are ruthlessly honest in revealing their hearts.

"And that eliminates a lot of people," Bob said.

He adds that they prefer to seek out artists themselves, and are not accepting solicitations from musicians at this time.

Although they've been working tirelessly for the past year, the couple aknowledges that their work with Gathering Wave is just beginning.

"Now comes the really big job," Baran said.

For Bob, the biggest accomplishment has been having the courage to finally pursue his dream. He says he believes that deep down, we all know what we really want to do; the question is whether we have the guts to do it.

With Gwen by his side, Bob says he's ready to say, "Here I am; take it or leave it."

To listen to or purchase Bob's music, or for information about Gathering Wave, go to gatheringwave.com.

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