The Akronist is partnering with JamTurtle TV to offer weekly “Music Mondays.” The weekly segments will be filmed at JamTurtle’s studio at 15 Broad St. in Akron, and will feature musicians from Akron and beyond performing a few of their songs.
At JamTurtle’s helm is Akron native David Sullivan, who’s worked in broadcasting and media production his entire career. He founded his award-winning company, Terrapin Media, in 2004. Terrapin specializes in video production, multimedia training applications, instructional design, social media marketing, website design and communications consulting.
David and I met at Highland Square’s Mustard Seed Café to talk about JamTurtle and about his Highland Square roots. Before our meeting I did my due diligence – in other words I Googled him — so I recognized him as soon as I walked in the place. David is a gregarious bear of a man with a laid-back confidence and a mischievous twinkle in his eye.
He is also a fellow who loves his city. More than that, he “gets” his city and brings its flavor to everything he does. This was apparent to me the moment I met the guy, and it was reinforced a few days later when he welcomed me to his studio to see for myself just what happens there.
David began by telling me about his vision for JamTurtle TV and what he wants it to be. He explained that while he loves the work he does for his clients at Terrapin, most of his work there involves supporting other people’s missions and bringing other people’s ideas to life. JamTurtle is, for David, the realization of his own idea, one he has long wanted to bring to life.
The project takes musicians into the studio to video record four of their songs in a relaxed setting, with “relaxed” being the key word. JamTurtle’s studio space has a homey, bohemian style. The walls are brick and the floors are concrete. Original artworks by other occupants of the building grace the walls. The refrigerator in the corner is stocked with a selection of locally brewed craft beers, and the vibe is casual, intimate, creative and welcoming: in other words, the vibe is Akron.
Recording sessions at JamTurtle are referred to as “hangs,” and rightfully so. That point is an important one when trying to understand what JamTurtle TV is all about. The intention is to bring to the space the best original folk, Americana, roots and bluegrass music around performed and recorded live. Visitors to the “hangs” are enthusiastically welcomed. David summed up his hope for the future of JamTurtle by saying, “I love the music and I want to share it with as many folks as I can.”
On the day I visited JamTurtle, David’s wife Tammie and their dog, a sweet, frisky 5-year-old Airedale mix named Phineas, were on hand for the “hang.” The artists recording that afternoon, Columbus band KrisB’s Midnight Railroad, was setting up with help from David and sound engineer Thomas Williams, CEO of Finesse Entertainment & Sound.
Tammie offered me a beer and we settled in. What happened next was…magic. The band began to play the music they describe as “rootsy Americana rock.” Front man and guitarist Chris Beckholt filled the space with his impressive and soulful vocals. Add to that the band’s fantastic banjo, bass, mandolin and fiddle playing, plus JamTurtle’s easy-going “hanging out jamming” vibe, and the sum of these parts is something quite special.
Some of the other bands who have recorded at JamTurtle include Boy=Girl, Dangermuffin and the Gage Brothers.
I asked Akron’s Ben Gage what it was that drew he and his brother Zach to JamTurtle. He responded, “JamTurtle TV is a big deal for local musicians. Being able to have a professional outlet that can showcase your music is huge. It brings together musicians like very few things can, by being a channel that you can support, discover and promote new music. The Gage Brothers have utilized the JamTurtle videos as a resume for landing gigs, a calling card for local music collaborations and a bookmark in our musical journey. I am excited to see where this brainchild of Dave Sullivan goes. It is helping the community, musicians and music lovers alike.”
Gage’s words must be music to Sullivan’s ears, because David says that JamTurtle’s ultimate goal is to become a self-sustaining resource that serves artists and music lovers and brings the community together.
With the session complete and my questions mostly answered, there was just one more thing I wanted to know: what is the deal with turtles? David has two companies: Terrapin Media and JamTurtle TV, so there must be something about turtles that inspires him. He said, “JamTurtle TV came out of the fact that our company is Terrapin Media, and the company name came from the Grateful Dead song Terrapin Station. Tammie and I are deadheads and used to go to shows together ‘back in the day.’ Our oldest daughter was in diapers when she went to her first show.”
What is next for JamTurtle TV?
Scheduled upcoming session dates are:
• Jan. 17 – Whiskey Girls
• Jan. 23 – Ballinloch (Celtic/Irish) followed by Josh Laird (singer/songwriter) later that day
Future performers who have yet to finalize dates include Cleveland duo Shawn & Shelby and singer/songwriter Michael Rotman.
To learn more about JamTurtle TV go to https://www.facebook.com/JamTurtleTV.
For more information about Terrapin Media go to https://www.facebook.com/TerrapinMedia/.