Creative Workshop is a historic recording studio founded in 1970 by songwriter and producer Buzz Cason. It was the very first recording studio established in Nashville’s Berry Hill district and was one of the first independently owned studios built in all of Nashville. Berry Hill is unique in that it is an incorporated city located within the Metro Nashville city limits. Regardless of its modest size (only .9 square miles) Berry Hill is now home to nearly 40 recording studios.
Creative Workshop was originally built as a place for Cason to develop and produce new artists. He and his engineer Travis Turk wasted no time doing this. Before the paint could even dry on the walls they were in the studio tracking a young songwriter from Mobile named Jimmy Buffett.
At that time Buffett was signed as a writer for Cason's publishing company, Let There Be Music. The first record they produced in the new studio was Jimmy’s record “High Cumberland Jubilee”.
Also in those early days Papa Don Schroeder came in and produced Carl Carlton’s million-seller hit, “Everlasting Love” (written by Buzz Cason and Mac Gayden), on the 8-track machine at Creative.
Other notable sessions during this original incarnation of Creative Workshop (1970-75) included the Doobie Brothers, Leon Russell, Brenda Lee, Ray Griff, and a particularly legendary late night when Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood and the rest of their band, Faces, came in to jam as the tape rolled after their show at Municipal Auditorium in 1975.
When Travis Turk left Creative Workshop to take a job at Eastern Sound Toronto, Brent Maher became the new chief engineer and oversaw the building of a brand new, state-of-the-art control room and renovation to the live tracking room in 1976. Designed by the world-renowned Eastlake/Westlake studio designer Tom Hidley, the “new” Creative Workshop quickly became a favorite for artists and producers alike.
The control room featured Hidley’s signature drop-ceiling, natural Oak siding, and stone accent-walls. The custom built Sphere Eclipse console was designed by Wally Wilson with circuitry by Don McLaughlin. The tracking room was modernized to fit the taste of the mid-seventies as well. It was treated by Hidley and his crew to offer minimal reflections, which gave the engineers the flexibility to add depth to their mixes by using the two chambers (located off of the east side of the tracking room) and the EMT 140 plate.
The design also included green shag carpeting aplenty which added to the “deadness” of the room. This original design was captured in all of it’s glory in the opening scene of the cult-classic documentary “Heartworn Highways” (see below).
The studio saw great success in the late seventies and eighties, producing several number 1 hits. Some notable artists to come through during those days were Roy Orbison, Merle Haggard, Olivia Newton-John, Larry Gatlin, and Randy Van Warmer. Since the late 80’s Joe Funderburk has been the chief engineer.
Recently in early 2017, Parker Cason, Buzz’s son, oversaw a restoration of the studio to help bring back the feeling of the original ‘76 renovation. Though the original green shag carpet is gone, the cozy vibes of the affectionately coined Friendly Forest remain intact. As it approaches it’s 50th year of operation, Creative Workshop continues to enchant and inspire artists from around the world.