Music makes Marc Nelson’s world go ‘round, and this 28-year old Valparaiso resident works to nurture that love of the creative arts in others in Northwest Indiana.
His journey has taken Nelson far from the Porter County city where he grew up, and brought him back again. “I lived in Chicago and in Los Angeles,” says Nelson, recording engineer and a partner in The Alley Recording Co. in Valparaiso. “I had two mentors during that time who had a tremendous impact on me.”
Dennis Tousana was the chief engineer at the Chicago Recording Company and took on Nelson, a self-proclaimed 19-year old “hot head”, as an audio engineer. With Tousana’s tutelage, Nelson says he matured quickly as a professional and as a person.
“By the time I was 21, I was actually 26,” he says. “Dennis was a big, big influence in my life.” The move to L.A. brought Nelson in contact with Bill Schnee, a legendary producer and audio engineer. “He’s in the top three or four in the world,” Nelson says. “He trained me how to work in a multi-tasking environment and to never lose track of what I was doing.”
During his time in Los Angeles, Nelson worked in the recording studio with such well-known artists as Natalie Cole and Barry Manilow. He also worked with large orchestras, recording soundtracks for movies. “I was very timid because there are 80 people in that orchestra,” he recalls. “Bill taught me how to harness my focus and got me outside of my box. I learned from him that mistakes are part of life.”
During this time, Nelson also earned degrees in recording engineering and film production. Although Nelson says this stage of his career was exciting, the hectic demands of the mainstream entertainment industry didn’t allow him enough time to work with newcomers, to help local and regional bands “develop their sound.”
Recording Engineer & Partner
The Alley Recording Company,
a division of Front Porch Music
256 Indiana Ave, Suite 5, Valparaiso, Ind.
Nelson says he found those opportunities on his return to Valparaiso. “I was impressed with the way the town had changed since I left,” he says of Valparaiso. “I already knew the music community was very big in this area. I wanted to be part of it and be involved with Valparaiso University.” With the help of business partner Chad Clifford of Front Porch Music, The Alley Recording Co. is opening up opportunities for local artists, such as The Crawpuppies and Urbanites, to reach wider audiences. And as a producer and recording engineer, Nelson is right there helping make that happen.
This energetic young man has found a kindred spirit in Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas. The men envision Valparaiso as a creative and artistic center and are working together to develop a new downtown complex that will house a music venue as well as an educational center to allow people of all ages to express themselves through art.
“We want to be agents of change and develop a music venue right in the middle of the square,” says Nelson of his synergy with Costas over the last 2-1/2 years. “The music venue could also be a restaurant-bar, maybe a brewery. It would be a compound like Old Town in Chicago—a creative venue where people could take classes in things in drum line or how to paint,” Nelson says.
“What’s exciting about this is that people meet and create energy with creativity, art, dance, music,” he says. “No town in this area has that.”
In the meantime, Nelson says he’s working to expand the arts and people’s exposure to them. He currently partners with Clifford and Front Porch Music to teach children the art and science behind making music and what the music industry is all about.
Nelson’s efforts also helped Valparaiso’s only not-for-profit radio station, WVLP 98.3, get on the air. Another project being developed is “Live at the Alley”— a TV program designed to showcase local acts that will be filmed live in The Alley Recording studio. Nelson’s dream of working with Valparaiso University is also becoming a reality. He’s teaming with VU’s marketing department in community development.
“I’m working with their music department to guide students around the current music business,” he says. “A lot of what I do as a producer of music is instructing, not creating, but being a catalyst.” During his years in Valparaiso, Nelson says he never saw VU incorporated in the city. But change is coming.
Although The Alley Recording Co. has been part of the national music scene, Nelson says the focus of the Alley will continue to be to work with Indiana bands. “I see myself based here, continuously doing what I’m doing,” he says. “I’d like to teach at VU and stay involved in the community, instructing and teaching. This is all about community, about starting what I’m envisioning.”
Costas, who nominated Nelson for the 20 Under 40 recognition, says, “Marc is a catalyst for growth of the music community and business in Valparaiso.”