By Matt Wickstrom
He’s credited on work involving Ringo Starr, Michael McDonald, Jim James, Sturgill Simpson, Ben Sollee, Miles Nielsen and many others. If you’re thinking he’s from Nashville, New York or Los Angeles guess again. His name is Duane Lundy, and he operates the highly regarded Shangri-la Productions out of his Lexington home.
After having picked up playing music later than his peers, Lundy turned to producing and engineering as a means of staying involved with like-minded creative types and the music industry he holds dear.
“I really wanted to do music, but I knew it wouldn’t be from the performance side of things,” Lundy said. “I didn’t have any interest in touring, so I stuck my hand in the production toolbox to see if I could make it stick.”
And stick it did. In the late ’90s, Lundy began experimenting with four-track machines, recording whenever, wherever and whomever he could. Slowly his skills and notoriety improved, giving Lundy the opportunity to upgrade to more professional gear. Soon he began developing scores for television marketing when a friend who was a supervisor at a Miami-based ad agency began pushing work to him. By the mid 2000s, the additional projects led Lundy to sell a Tennis Pro business he was a partner in to jump head first into the music and engineering industry.
Many of Lundy’s first musical projects included Central Kentucky bands that became a networking web of sorts, connecting Lundy to individuals and groups throughout the industry, many of whom continuously come back to work on new material. Some have become mainstays in Lundy’s studio sessions, such as Mark Charles Heidinger, Justin Craig and Robby Cosenza, who became acquainted with Lundy early on through bands The Apparitions, Scourge of the Sea and others.
One project that stemmed from those studio sessions was the Heidinger-led Vandaveer, which fostered a tight bond with Lundy over the years, always turning to him when a new project began to sprout.
Such was the case in 2017. Following a Vandaveer performance at Ringo Starr’s birthday party in which the Kentucky folk group caught the attention of Starr, the former Beatle’s team reached out to the group about being the backing band for a couple of tracks on his upcoming solo record. The group agreed, of course, and turned to Lundy to work with them on their tracks before heading off to Starr’s team.
“The most effective marketing for me has been to just do good work and let word-of-mouth take over,” Lundy said. “It’s one of the most difficult, albeit effective, methods of marketing because if you goof you may not get another whack at it.”
So far the strategy appears to be working. Lundy says he’s always juggling several projects at once, something not commonplace in the industry locally prior to his entry, but he says he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m really fortunate to have been in the music business for 12 years working with artists I genuinely want to work with and not feeling like I’ve had to change my taste in music to find work.”