Little Rock’s Fellowship Hall Sound is many things, but first and foremost it’s a recording studio, where Jason Weinheimer has been recording, engineering and producing a wide variety of rock ’n’ roll records since 2007. At least two of them, Tulsa singer/songwriter John Moreland’s “Big Bad Luv” and Little Rock hard-rock act Pallbearer’s “Heartless,” have gotten national acclaim. Many have been big deals locally and regionally, among them: Bonnie Montgomery’s self-titled debut album, John Willis’ “King of the Cocktail Party” and “Bad Boyfriend,” Jesse Aycock’s “Flowers & Wounds” and Jim Mize’s self-titled album.
The Hillcrest studio takes its name from its former life as gathering place for the youth congregants of the nearby Presbyterian church that rents Weinheimer the building. But it’s also a fitting name for a space that doubles as a clubhouse of sorts where friends and frequent musical collaborators hang out, work and hoard. The spacious studio and adjoining control room, which takes up the entire first floor, is Weinheimer’s domain. Upstairs, Greg Spradlin, Isaac Alexander and Zach Reeves each rent a large room.
Spradlin, a Southern rocker and one of the state’s most skilled guitarists, runs his consulting business from his studio — sometimes with guitar in hand. He and his wife, Robyn Friday, also have a video production business, Camp Friday Films (it’s done work for the Arkansas Times).
Alexander, one of the most prolific and beloved singer/songwriters in Arkansas, works as a graphic designer and co-owns the Eric Rob & Isaac ad agency. He uses his room to work on his music and do his own design work (he’s long been the go-to for promo posters for local shows).
Weinheimer asked Reeves to help engineer during Pallbearer’s weeks-long session for “Heartless” in 2016 and, after that wrapped, encouraged him to take an upstairs room. Reeves is something of a Renaissance man. He’s a talented multi-instrumentalist, and regularly engineers and does session work at Fellowship Hall. He has a woodworking business, building cabinets, furniture and cases for clients, including the Historic Arkansas Museum. He assists his wife, Sara Blancett Reeves, in her professional photography work. He builds canvases for and does painting collaborations with artist John Kushmaul. For Fellowship Hall and his own enjoyment, he’s the in-house technician, repairing all the vintage equipment that he and the rest of the guys can’t resist buying from pawnshops and off Craigslist, much of which comes in broken.
His most celebrated fix — at least among the Fellowship Hall crew: A 12-channel recording console that was built for Atlantic Records in 1968, used for a time by legendary engineer/producer Tom Dowd (Aretha Franklin, Charles Mingus, Willie Nelson), sold to a short-lived Memphis studio and traded to a Memphis pawn shop for a truck before it was discovered a decade ago by Mississippi producer and record label head Bruce Watson (Big Legal Mess, Fat Possum), who pointed Weinheimer to it. He carried it around various spaces for a decade as a conversation piece until Reeves figured out how to repair it last year.