Jim Ittenbach's Musician Page

Jim Ittenbach's love of music was visible at an early age. By the time he was four years old he was drawn to the power of Russian classical Jim Ittenbach with guitarcomposers such as Petr Il'ich Tchaikovsky (1840–1893), Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky (1839-1881) and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908). Evidence of this love of music was quite visible in the record collection of his father, which was worn out on Jim's personal record player bought with S&H Green Stamps. He even saved up a quarter and several box tops from Puffed Wheat cereal to get his very own copy of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. No doubt these composers were the reason Jim developed a keen sense and appreciation of both arrangement and dynamics. His father's record collection also included John Phillip Sousa (1854-1932), which presented this toddler with exposure to music with a strong beat. There is little wonder why his love for rock music would later emerge.

His first exposure to more contemporary music occurred when on a whim he bout a 45 rpm Louis Prima record called Whistle Stop Blow. This record as worn out as well. As he grew up he would spend his money on various records but he had not really begun to identify with any particular genre of music. Jim's innate desire to do the unexpected led him to chose the flute to play in his elementary school band. He really had no reason in choosing this instrument other than it was different. This odd character trait showed itself when his parents wanted to bribe him to get on the honor roll, so they said he could have whatever he wanted if he did it. Leafing through a copy of Field and Stream magazine he noticed an ad for baby raccoons. The strategy paid off and he was soon the proud owner of  raccoon named Rodriguez J. Racquet. All the more odd because it was a female, but that's Jim for you.

Jim continued to play flute in his school bands until he reached high school when he was booted out for spontaneously standing up and applauding when the bell rang to end the last day of band class. Although the normal Jim Ittenbach with fluteband director found it humorous, a new band director took exception and decided he needed to make a statement on who was in control. Jim was pulled into the band directors office and pushed into a wall. the new band director told him "Before you think about joining my band next year you better straighten out". Being frightened by this act of aggression from an adult Jim responded in his usually way and told the new band director "Before I report this to the principal you better take your hand off of me". They parted ways and Jim never opted to join the advanced band. Although he did continue to take lessons the school offer, this was more of an excuse to get out of a class every week than anything else.

During the next couple of years Jim took a hiatus from playing music. However, this was also the time when curiosity for contemporary music began to grow. He received a copy of Eric Burden Declares War, which had some awesome flute work on Spill the Wine. He also bought his first three real rock records. Credence Clearwater Revival's Cosmo's Factory and Led Zeppelin I and II. He felt a deep sense of remorse when Jimi Hendrix died, even though he was not that familiar with his music, yet. Maybe it was the coarse headlines that read "Acid King Dies" but Jim felt a distinct spiritual connection with Jimi Hendrix from that point on. In fact, later on Jim sometimes called himself Jim I, which is a tribute to Jimi Hendrix. needless to say Jimi Hendrix records were soon in his collection. Soon after that Jim heard Jethro Tull's Locomotive Breath on the radio and he immediately thought "...if I could play flute like that it might be worth picking it back up again". More on that to come.

The year Jim graduated from high school spawned the metamorphosis of Jim as a musician. After partaking in a few adult beverages Jim noticed his flute which had laid dormant for the last couple of year and he wondered Jim Ittenbach"...can I still make any sounds out of this thing?". Well we aren't saying they were good sounds but he could make some noises. This provoked him to want to play again. Over the course of that summer he also bought his first real guitar, a 1974 Fender Stratocaster, which he still owns. His friend Gary "The Roach" Shotroff lent Jim his copy of Jethro Tull's Living in the Past album. Oddly enough Jim was able to play many of the song's hook lines within a week. The dominos were indeed falling into place. Jim decided to tryout for Peabody Institute's Prep Department in an effort to quickly rehone his chops. The classical music influence in his life made this the obvious choice for this effort. He passed the audition and was admitted. Although Jim, being Jim, conquered some pentatonic and blues scales so he could show up early for his private lessons and ad lib on those scales just to provoke the classical musicians there. He used to get a big thrill when some old lady would peer in the window to see who was abusing the flute that way (and no, he never went to band camp:-). This actually lasted for several years as Jim's love of music drove him to learn as much music theory as he could. His appetite for knowledge was insatiable and later led to many college credits. The theory classes at Peabody's Prep Department were not enough. He began taking private theory classes with  his theory teacher and delved into topics like Schoenberg's Twelve Tone System and what a Neapolitan sixth chord is.

In order to fund his renewed obsession with music Jim obtained a job at a General Jim IttenbachMotors assembly line in Baltimore. This was another introduction in life lessons to him, a suburban kid with really long hair working side by side with some of Baltimore's finest rednecks. A day after he completed his 90 day job probationary period he quickly gained his cohorts respect when he verbally blasted a supervisor who had been taking advantage of him during that time period. Luckily God smiled down on Jim and a Line Manager, who had seen how hard Jim had been working saw this happened and told the supervisor he need to make things right with Jim. Jim became an official member of a group of people know as the Minute Men, who knew exactly how long it would take to comfortably walk from their cars, up the ramp to the factory, across the factory and be at their post right when the line started. Much to the chagrin of their supervisor. One of the other members, George Hess recently became a Troubled Spirit fan as a result of a Facebook connection, go figure. The adventures at GM could be a whole other page. Suffice it to say that this job was important because it funded the PA system Jim used in his Itt-N-Rock sound system company. Two years later it also helped him purchase his Guild D-45 acoustic guitar, which is one of his favorite song writing tools and prominently feature at Troubled Spirit shows.

Over the next few years Jim was a member of, or put together several bands. Greg Stallings Aluminum Apple was an interesting band that played originals. The only covers allowed were Jimi Hendrix songs. They only played parties, but every week at practice a motley crew of bikers who enjoyed the music showed up with beer. There was a tradition with that band or trying to find the weirdest beer possible. If that brand was never brought over before, the side of the six pack was cut out and posted on the Wall of Beer. Since their biker friends knew we liked imported beer, they always showed up with plenty for everyone, there was little incentive to carry all that equipment any where with that type of deal.

Jim's first bands he put together included The Midnight Riders and The Reactors. This is when Jim met his long time friend Mike Bearry. Mike was also one of the first people went into a recording studio with, when they recorded the initial versions of Dreams and Gimme an Answer. Jim's talents as an entertainer quickly became evident; however, Jim did not realize his days of playing in bands would be sidetracked for a little while after his first marriage. Although he continued to write, life requirements proved to not be conducive to being in an actual band. To remain in the mix he continued to run sound and would put together various side projects to do recordings where ever he could get recording time. The lessons learned Jim Ittenbachwould prove very valuable later. He learned how to quickly prepare a group of musicians to record a project, how long the process takes (which is always longer think you think it will be) and unfortunately a lot about what not to do as an engineer. This served as the motivating factor for Jim to learn how to do the engineering himself. This is when he decided to attend a couple of the RIAA recording classes at Sheffield Studios outside of Baltimore. His instructor was Bill Mueller (another Facebook friend). Bill's soon to be wife's band, The Joann Dodds band was the band used to record and mix. Jim was addicted to this process after this. He credits Bill Mueller's conveying off his knowledge to Jim as being a big turning point in his life. Face Dancer was setup in the studio to do their preproduction work before they headed to California to record their This World album.

Then next phase of Jim's musical career would occur when a mutual friend, Mark Hansen introduced Jim to Rob Martin. Several rough recordings of some very interesting songs came from this collaboration which they called Of Two Minds. They had the unique ability to compliment each other instrumentally on the fly. They were also a little nuts and came up with songs like the Bud Light Song. At an American University recording studio they recorded the first versions of Coast to Coast, Loser, Loser, Treasure and the Bud Light Song using Rob's band, Hot Ice. Soon after this Rob joined Edge City, who was already making waves on the local music station WHFS. Jim assisted with their preproduction for their EP, By The Water. Using very creative mic placing to basically do manual mixing, Jim was able to clearly capture the arrangement and balances used to take  Steve Carr's Hit and Run Studios. Jim was taken into the studio as a neutral set of ears to listen for performance issues. Steve Carr paid Jim a high compliment when he said "You are hearing all the same things I am", with regard to identifying small performance flaws. Although Jim had training from the RIAA courses he had very little experience in a studio, other than his throw together projects. This was his first step towards assisting with production of someone else's project. Steve's comment reminded Jim of the time he was behind the board for Edge City at Baltimore's 8X10 club. The house sound man told Jim "Man I have been watching you and you break almost every rule in the book, but it sounds great". Jim just smiled and said "My best tool is my ears and I trust them". This held true for Edge City's Hit and Run sessions as well.

Around the same time Rob Martin introduced Jim to Paul Weager. They soon went into Paul's Nye Timber Studios and recorded a few more songs. Jim found himself occasionally assisting as an engineer at Nye Timber Studios. He was credited on several projects there including an album by one of the world's top ten bagpipe bands, the Scottish and Irish Imports Band. They were preparing for a competition in Scotland.

Not long after that Jim joined forces with Ray Bugnosen and they decided to form a band. This is when Jim and Ray joined up with Mark Matthews, Darryl Freeman (still a current member) and Jimmy Buter from Troubled Spirit. The long history behind that band can be found on the Troubled Spirit page. Needless to say Jim has not and will not slow down in his pursuit of the musical adventures that are his life.


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