At first glance, Easton fits neatly into the iconic idea of small town America. Its main street’s architecture is welcoming and pleasing to the eye. You know all the shops well and perhaps the shop owners—you may even have gone to school with one of them or your kids are in school together. There’s a unique sense of camaraderie that comes from living among a lesser populous, of shared experiences and shared sorrows.
As typical as Easton is, it is also a town that holds surprises beneath its proverbial hat. In the nooks and crannies, one can find a culture that seems more suited to a big city, or at least, a bigger town.
I found myself in one of these crannies recently and to my surprise—and honestly delight—it was in the form of a full-scale recording studio located in downtown Easton.
Now I already knew—as most Eastontonians do—that our little berg has a great artistic community; there are talented musicians, gifted artists and writers. But, little did I know that one of these artists came together with a friend, and fellow musician, to open a recording studio called Sweetfoot Studios.
“Sweetfoot Studios was founded in April of 2012,” says Shea Springer, the studio’s owner and operator. “It was originally run by me and Kentavius Jones. We conceived it as kind of a joint project space.”
But as time passed, Springer was spending more time there, taking on much of the work that came in the door. At the same time, Jones was finding other projects that were taking his attention and time away from the studio. So it was that four years ago, they mutually agreed that Springer would take the reigns and be the sole manager of Sweetfoot Studios.
“I do a range of work here,” Springer goes on to say. “From full band recording; to singer-songwriter work where people bring me just a demo and I’ll help them put together a band of session musicians. I do a lot of live, location recording, where I’ll go and record concerts; and then I have people come to me to do voice over for video or soundtracks for movies.”
Over the course of Sweetfoot’s life, it has influenced young, burgeoning musicians, too. A few years ago, Springer and friend, Mike Elzey got together and formed a sort of music camp for area young people.
Elzey is a guitar instructor based in Cambridge with a studio in Easton, and after meeting Springer thought it might be a good idea to bring in some of his students to see the studio, so they could see all the steps that are involved in recording an album. “I thought Shea would be a great mentor for the kids,” Elzey explains. “So we arranged for a tour of the studio.”
Not long after the tour, Elzey and Springer teamed up and began meeting with the kids once a week. “The students would come in and they would learn how to play together as a band,” Springer says. “At the end they got together and recorded a song or two.” Out of that camp was born a few area bands that still play together today.
Springer grew up here, and as such, felt the weight of small town living. “In middle school and high school there wasn’t anywhere for kids my age to go,” he explains. “It was a constant source of lament for us.”
However, he and some of his friends found an outlet in a local music store that hosted concerts in the store. “That’s where everybody went when we were in high school,” he goes on to say. Around the same time a coffee shop in Easton began hosting open mic nights—creating another outlet for he and his friends to express their creative sides.
“Those two places made a huge impact on me and everybody my age who plays music today,” says Springer. “That is something that sticks in my mind and makes me want to contribute back into the community now that I am in a position to do so.”