Billy F. Otis

Singer,  songwriter and harmonica player Billy F. Otis is part 
of our upcoming series of  blues-oriented CD releases. Billy's
style mixes roots-rock influences with straight Chicago blues,
making for a drivin', very listenable sound. As producer on his
tracks, my goal was to keep things basic and uncluttered while
adding enough little touches here and there to make the songs
come to life. Billy has a lot of energy and punch in his music,
and I think that comes across real well on the finished tracks.
                                                                           - Steve Haggard


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I Don't Love You
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Billy writes:

Now that my Nashville recording sessions are over, and I've had the chance 
to  reflect, I think I know why it was so completely satisfying and enjoyable. 

It began with Steve Haggard and his wife Gail, and the way I was treated like 
family.  It continued with the top-notch production staff and recording facilities 
where we tracked. And it didn't stop there. Wild Oats Records surrounded me with consummate professional players whose attention to detail and professional attitude assured me a quality production that I was more than satisfied with...  and one that 
I would gladly do again. 

I suppose I should start from the beginning. (I think that Joe Friday said that  
somewhere along the line.) Anyway, it was late one night and I'd been doing  web 
search that was now in its third week. I was going from site to site, trying  to find 
the right indie label... Then it happened. I stumbled across the Wild Oats Records website... I hit it and checked it out. And you know what ? 
It seemed to good to be true.

What I found was an indie label that put tours together, actually pushed their 
artists and their product... An indie label with a philosophy that matched mine:
"Work hard, but make time for the three-hour lunch. I was floored ! Over the 
next couple of days, I hit the website again and again. I checked it out in depth, 
then sent them an e-mail. 

Within 24 hours, I had heard back from Glen Edwards, one of the two "Head
Honchos" at Wild Oats Records. I sent them my CD, and before you know it 
they'd asked me if I wanted to be part of their upcoming blues CD series.The 
other names involved in the series seemed slightly unbelievable... like Eddie 
Kirkland (the guitarist who helped John Lee Hooker forge his seminal boogie 
sound) and Mark Naftalin (keyboard player for The Paul Butterfield Blues 
Band back in the days when "Butter" led the late 60's blues revival). I was
shocked and said to myself, "Billy, there's gotta be a catch."

I asked hard questions. I asked for a contract. I had guys in the biz check 
out their website, review their correspondence and go over the contract. And 
you know what ? Their shit checked out ! So I decided to take the plunge. 

Soon I was in touch with producer Steve Haggard, the other "Head Honcho" at 
Oat Central. He and I discussed recording philosophy, the approach we'd use during tracking, and the tunes we would be recording. We chatted on the phone or traded e-
mails on a daily basis as we got ready for the sessions. I changed the oil in my van, rotated the tires and headed to Nashville.

When I arrived, Steve, his lovely wife Gail and their dog Otis were waiting for me 
with barbecue tongs in hand and a big glass of wine. That night, I think I slept about 
a foot off the bed... I was just a tad nervous. I gotta tell you, I've been in recording
studios before and am no stranger to the whole process,  but the thought of being in 
a studio in a town like Nashville where the players   are killer, was just a bit daunting. 

Waiting for us at the studio the next morning was engineer Randall Merryman, 
who has worked with the likes of The Marshall Tucker Band and Keb Mo. The 
session players set up. Steve discussed arrangement ideas. The musicians made 
their charts. I heard terms like "birdseye" and "diamonds," Nashville recording
terms I was completely ignorant of.  Steve asked, "Are there any questions ?" 
There were none. He pointed me towards the vocal booth and said, "get ready 
to sing." I took a deep breath, opened the door and stepped in.

By the time I had sung the first verse I realized how much fun I was having. The players were killer. It was like driving a Cadillac on cruise control. Kathy Burkly on drums was riding shotgun on this stagecoach, Supe Granda on bass was great, John Kearns' guitar and slide playing was stellar... All I had to do was sing the tune. The band did the rest. 
It was too much!! I was in heaven!!

As we worked, I continued to relax and then a funny thing started to happen. Each 
time everyone was in the control room listening to playbacks, I noticed the players
were boppin' to what they were hearing. Before long they were all suggesting ways
to help make the tunes even better. It was pretty heady stuffto see seasoned pros groovin' to tunes that I had written. 

On days two and three, we recorded my final vocals. Steve and I spent time 
discussing the vocal approach, phrasing and timing, and he worked with me to get
things just right. Within a couple of takes we usually found one we could work with 
and polish. We pushed and pulled the words as we worked, verse by verse, until we 
got what we wanted vocal-wise... and Steve and Randall hadn't killed me yet!!

If you are ready to take that proverbial "next step" in your music career, 
Wild Oats Records will help you take it... If you are ready to experience recording 
in  a truly professional setting, with a great production team and players who'll help 
you sound your best, Oat Central is the place to record. I would urge everyone, no 
matter what   your chosen profession is -- Doctor, Lawyer or Indian Chief -- to go 
where people  practice that profession at a high level and throw yourself into that
mix and see how you stack up. It's a reality check that is invaluable as we go down 
our chosen path. Wild Oats Records afforded me that opportunity, and I'm glad that 
I took it.

-Billy F. Otis (contact Billy at

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