What does it take to get a couple of guys who have worked with the likes of The Eagles and REM to come over to your friend's garage and record an album? In some cases, the answer is simply a phone call.
"That's how it started," said Joe Vitale of the recently formed Brooke Vitale Dixon project.
The band will will release its self-titled debut CD at 9:30 p.m. Jan. 4 at Panini's in Canton, with Marc Andrew Project opening the show.
"I've known Eric (Brooke) for a while and I just called him up and said, 'What are you doing this weekend?'" Vitale said, holding his hand to his ear.
Vitale, a Canton native, began his career in the popular Ohio band They Chylds, then rose to prominence as a musician and producer in the 1970s and 1980s in bands such as Barnstorm - with fellow Kent State student Joe Walsh.
He has also performed with The Michael Stanley Band, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and later, The Eagles, shortly after Walsh joined the seminal '70s rock outfit and recommended Vitale.
Gathered around a table in the French Bistro designed break room of Scitrain, the Belden Village-based leadership development firm where Brooke works as director of public relations - Vitale, Brooke and the third member of the extemporaneously formed trio, Don Dixon, discussed the formation of their new band.
Brooke, who performs as a solo artist as well and publishes a local entertainment magazine called Informer, recalled his first conversation with Vitale about a potential collaboration.
"I had given Joe a copy of my latest CD, Flood, at a (Canton) First Friday show," Brooke said. "He listened to it and sent me a Facebook message that said 'We need to write some rocking tunes.'"
Thinking that little beyond the compliment itself would transpire, Brooke nonetheless sprang into action after Vitale's phone call, setting up a recording session at a friend's garage and art gallery.
"It really was a garage and we were surrounded by all these ceramic-baking things…kilns," Vitale said.
Brooke also contacted Dixon, who had been featured in a recent Informer article where he was quoted as saying he would like to work with Brooke in the future.
"I knew Eric more as a publisher, from his magazine, and I'd always wanted to work with Joe," said Dixon, a South Carolina native and Canton resident who gained notoriety in the mid-70's as the bassist/vocalist for the band Arrogance. He went on to produce albums for artists including: REM, The Smithereens, Marshall Crenshaw, Guadalcanal Diary, and Hootie and the Blowfish, as well as his own releases and those of his wife, singer-songwriter and Uniontown native Marti Jones.
Page 2 of 2 - Officially written, rehearsed and recorded in five days, the sessions that resulted in the eight-song Brooke Vitale Dixon were captured by engineer Trevor Meyer, mixed by Vitale, and mastered by Vitale's son - multi-instrumentalist and recording artist Joe Vitale, Jr.
"I only remember three," Dixon said of the sessions.
The album features guest vocals from Karri Fedor, of the band Kerri Fedor and Kerosene, on "Taxi" - a Dixon-penned song from his days in Arrogance; saxophonist Matt Corey on "La La Land"; and a shot of power-pop bombast on the lead single, "Queen of the Freaks."
"I don't think anybody knew what it was going to be," Brooke said of the session, though all three agreed that the off-the-cuff approach is underutilized in modern music.
"To me it was about making music, not trying," Vitale said. "I knew Eric and Don and I knew something had to turn out good. We're some old guys - we've been around a while. I don't really know if younger musicians do that anymore – we called it jamming – maybe they do, and just call it something else."
Dixon agreed and noted how much fun the trio had working together.
"Eric had some specific ideas, and I thought 'Taxi' would be a good one. But Eric worked a lot on (the album) after we came in. Joe and I were there for the fun part - kind of like having a baby," Dixon said.
The album will be available for download and purchase Jan. 4 at the soon-to-be-launched BrookeVitaleDixon.com, as well as at online music retailers such as iTunes and Amazon.
Where - and what - the group ends up doing beyond that point is as unpredictable as its formation.
"Oh, let's just see what happens at the first show," Dixon said with a laugh.
"Yeah, I hope we don't implode," Brooke said, adding quickly. "And it's Jan. 4."
"Ask us that question again on Jan. 5," Vitale suggested.
Then Dixon, looking puzzled, turned to Brooke.
"Wait. It's the fourth?"
Then, with a grin, he punched Brooke in the arm and said, "I'm kidding."