Eric Winbush built his professional audio and video studio from the ground up. “I’m an expert in hanging sheetrock, electrical wiring and plumbing,” he said. “I can build a house now.”
But his real specialty is recognizing and mentoring talent. Dadd’s Production, as the studio is known, is a busy place that works with a stable of in-house talent. Winbush also volunteers his talents to students at the Savannah Arts Academy, who receive hands-on training with professional grade audio-visual equipment.
Winbush broke into the music industry as a guitar player for Mary Davis of the S.O.S. Band after they had scored big hits in the disco era with “Take Your Time,” “Just Be Good To Me” and “The Finest.” He also did live sound engineering for touring groups, including Con Funk Shun, the Gap Band and the Bar Kays.
Tired of being split between his studio, which he founded in 1994, and the road, he became stationary in Savannah in 2001 and began running his studio as a record company. Seeking more room in 2006, he bought a new building in the Garden City neighborhood and constructed his 4,000 square foot dream space, completed in August, 2008.
“I was lucky to get a shot in the music business and start Dadd’s to bring out the serious talent among young and old musicians in this area that would probably never otherwise be exposed,” he said.
Dadd’s features a recording studio, a black box theater, a video conference room, manufacturing room, dance studio and a TV/radio broadcast studio. At the behest of Ellis Garvin, a tour guide/writer, he also recently produced “A Virtual Tour of Our Two Savannahs,” a video documentary that chronicles the city’s history.
Winbush utilizes many key pieces of Yamaha gear, including an 02R96 digital mixing console, HS monitors, a Motif ES synthesizer and a Motif XS rack effects processor. He also uses Cubase music production software and Nuendo post-production software from Steinberg.
Rather than just make CD’s with his budding musical acts, which include Simply Amazing, Jimmy Brown from the band Brick, Zan and Jeanette Illidge, he also offers guidance along with full-service media and promotion services.
“We’re not just producing a recording as the end process, I want the artists to know what to do with their projects,” he said. “I’m looking to take them from start to finish.”
Winbush has sponsored concerts that feature his artists in the studio’s theater. “If you can’t get a gig at a club due to the economy, gig here,” he said.
The message has resonated with students at the Savannah Arts Academy, who learn practical skills on his equipment. The school doesn’t teach recording techniques, said band director Michael Hutchinson, but around 10 of his charges stay after class lets out to learn from Winbush, who volunteers his time.
Sometimes he records the school’s award-winning SkyeLite Jazz Band and the Silver Winds Ensemble, other times the bands perform and record at Dadd’s. For the jazz band’s first CD, “Tuesdays,” Winbush captured the ensemble parts at the school and the soloists laid down their improvisations at the studio.
When the school sought to buy a Yamaha grand piano, they held a chicken dinner and sold CD’s, among other fundraising activities.
“We worked for years raising the money, but that CD put us over the top and enabled us to buy the piano,” said Hutchinson. “It’s great to work with such a professional studio and our students have learned a lot from our collaboration with Eric.”