Not many Brown County High School graduates can say they have worked with the White Stripes, Kings of Leon, Gretchen Wilson or Martina McBride.
Audio engineer Lowell Reynolds has worked with all four and many more.
Reynolds lives and works in Nashville, Tennessee, at the Black- bird Studio, owned by John and Martina McBride.
The 1997 Brown County graduate’s hard work is paying off. An album he worked on was nominated for a Grammy for rock album of the year.
If musician James Bay won for “Chaos and the Calm,” Reynolds would have received a Grammy, too.
The duo lost to rock band Muse and their album “Drones.”
Not many BCHS graduates can say they were nominated in the same Grammy category as rock bands Muse, Slipknot and Death Cab for Cutie, either.
Working with stars
Reynolds played the oboe in Brown County’s marching band. His mother is Vickie Reynolds, owner of Reynolds Leather and Gifts.
”As much as I would love to see him win a Grammy, just the fact that he has been nominated for one is amazing,” she said.
He graduated from Indiana University in 2002 with a degree in audio engineering. From there, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee.
He got a job writing jingles — “Nationwide is on your side” is one people might know.
Across the street, construction for Blackbird Studios was ongoing. Reynolds kept making appearances at the studio until they gave him a job as the night manager.
“I did all day making jingles, and then all night you go over to Blackbird Studio and sweep the floors and clean the toilets. You try to help people out as much as you can. When you see people running fast, you’re like, ‘How can I help you out?’ Eventually, you kind of just slowly get into the groove,” he said.
He became an assistant engineer. They are responsible for helping guest engineers whom artists bring in to work on their albums get adjusted to Blackbird Studio equipment.
His first job as an assistant engineer was on country musician Gretchen Wilson’s debut album, “Here For the Party.”
He even sang on the title track. About a minute in, listen to the man singing, “Woop, woop.” That’s Reynolds.
“Then later that year we saw her doing it at the Super Bowl at halftime and I’m like, ‘That’s my part!’” he said.
Reynolds’ next job was working with Faith Hill on her album, “Fireflies.”
“It was my first tracking assistant gig ever. You know, Faith’s in there, Martina (McBride)’s in there, because they’re best friends. John (McBride), the owner of the studio, is in there, and Dann Huff, the biggest country producer there is, is in there. Then, me, sitting there going, ‘I have no idea what I am doing,’” he remembered.
Another bright spot in Reynolds’ music career is working on the Kings of Leon album, “Because of the Times.”
“That still, to do this day, I think, is my favorite thing that I have ever been a part of in recording. It’s absolutely amazing,” he said.
“It’s still something I can put on in the car and be proud of.”
He would go on to work on the band’s follow-up album, “Only By the Night,” which featured the hits “Sex on Fire” and “Use Somebody.”
He assisted producer Jacquire King on “Only By the Night.” That collaboration led to Reynolds being King’s recording engineer for the past three years.
King has received more than 30 Grammy nominations and has worked with musicians Norah Jones, Buddy Guy, Of Monsters and Men, the Punch Brothers and the Cold War Kids along with Kings of Leon.
“Any projects he does, I record and do the overdubs. When it’s mixing, he does the final stuff, but I kind of get it ready for him. We kind of co-mix,” he said.
Friends with stars
“Chaos and the Calm” was crafted during Bay’s four visits to Blackbird, where he would record four or five songs at a time.
“He’s such a sweetheart,” Reynolds said about the Grammy-nominated rocker. “I’m so excited for him. He’s such a nice person.”
Reynolds spoke of a time he and his wife, Angela Heimbaugh, attended one of Bay’s concerts two days before their first child was born. The couple went backstage to visit with Bay afterwards, and Bay was excited for the couple’s pending arrival.
Reynolds is now the recording engineer at Blackbird Studio.
This isn’t his first time working on a Grammy-nominated — and hopefully winning — album. He was the assistant engineer on the Raconteurs’ second album, “Consolers of the Lonely.”
“I was so stressed out, I lost 12 pounds. It was cut all to analog tape, which no one does anymore. Then it all had to be edited, machines had to be synced up and locked together, and whatnot,” he said.
The album won the Grammy for the best engineered non-classical album in 2008. It was also nominated for rock album of the year.
Jack White, formerly of the White Stripes and the Raconteurs, sent Reynolds a text after the win. White is also Reynolds’ neighbor.
“Jack sent me a text sitting in the hall right as soon as they won, no delay, basically saying, ‘Man, I wish I could get you a trophy as well,’” Reynolds said.
“It meant a whole lot to me. It wasn’t like the next day or three days later; it was literally as soon as they won.”
To show his appreciation, White gave Reynolds the foam his Grammy award was delivered in.
White added a Grammy plaque with Reynolds’ name on it.
“I still have it. It’s called ‘The Foammy,’” Reynolds said.
He hopes to have a companion for Foammy after the Grammys on Feb. 15.
Even if Reynolds didn’t win, he says it’s an honor to be nominated.
“I at least get to now say, ‘Grammy-nominated audio engineer,” he said.