Hanging on one of the walls in the main control room at Dog Ear Studios are hats that have different instruments written on each one. This can only remotely describe the “Man of Many Hats”, Jamie LaRitz, owner and operator of Dog Ear Studios in Nashville. LaRitz has already worked with some of the biggest artists, songwriters, and fellow producers that Nashville and the world has to offer, but things are increasingly picking up for this multi-talented musician and producer.
LaRitz began producing in 1983 under the tutelage of Bo Hill, who produced many bands in the 1980s including AC/DC and Ratt. In 1985, LaRitz found success by producing and recording Fiona’s breakout hit “Talk To Me” and began touring with her live band, opening up for Bryan Adams. After that success, LaRitz continued record and produce in all of the major music cities in the U.S.A, including New York City and Los Angeles, but then made his way to Nashville in 1999.
Since moving to Nashville in September of that year, LaRitz has grown the reputation of operating the best kept secret in all of town—Dog Ear Studios. Over the years, musicians/songwriters like Gretchen Wilson, Keifer Thompson (Thompson Square), Reese Wynans (Stevie Ray Vaughan keyboardist), Mike Utley (Jimmy Buffet), Dave Murphy, Jim Morris (Coral Reefer Band), Doyle Grisham, Renae Truex (Cowboy Crush), Lynn Anderson, Mike Bailey, Henry Paul, and Ash Underwood have used LaRitz and his talents to record top notch songs and albums. Songs like “Mayberry” by Rascal Flatts, “Home To You” by John Michael Montgomery, and “Women Call The Shots, Men Buy The Drinks” by Steve Holy were originally demoed at Dog Ear Studios by LaRitz, and all of these songs have topped the Billboard Country charts in their respective years.
LaRitz’s reputation and quality saw himself getting a phone call in 2004 from longtime friend and well-known bass player, Eric Brittingham, who recommended recording at Dog Ear Studios to Poison front man and rockstar Bret Michaels. After flying in and having a long talk, Michaels decided to record his solo record “Freedom of Sound” at Dog Ear with LaRitz by his side for 6 months straight writing, producing, engineering, and performing on the album. The record was a huge success, and it also featured artists Rascal Flatts, Mark Willis, and Kyle Jones to name a few.
When describing the process of recording LaRitz says,
“Dog Ear Studios is really just made up of me playing everything. Guitars, bass, drums, keys, etc. It’s a one stop shop, if you will. If you want to bring your own band that’s cool, too.” He goes on, “Recording, tracking, mixing, mastering, it’s all done here. With my engineering partner Joyce watching levels while I track, there is no need to go anywhere else. ”
Watching LaRitz build tracks from the ground up by himself is truly a sight to see, playing all of the instruments.
“Once someone brings in a song and starts strumming and singing, I immediately start hearing the big picture,” LaRitz says, describing his thought process when songs are brought in as a rough sketch.
“The vibe in this studio is the biggest thing in this studio that no one can understand until they come in. No pressure, no clock watching, no anything like that. This is the most unintimidating studio in all of Nashville, and I want to keep it laid-back like that.” LaRitz says, “My goal here is to keep upgrading my clientele and quality of the songs and tracks that I do. I love working with good people.”
Jamie LaRitz’s Dog Ear Studios is truly the best kept secret in Nashville. Incredible studio rates and an incredible end product is a pair that is hard to find. For any project, big or small, short notice or planned out, LaRitz will not disappoint. Count on that.
Contact: Jamie LaRitz www.dogearstudios.com
By Kyle Wilkerson