Colin Mahoney has great ears.
Mahoney is a recording engineer for Kansas University’s School of Music. For many in Lawrence’s music scene, he’s one of the best — a “wizard” working behind the spotlight to bring out other musicians’ strengths.
Guitarist Roger Holden has recorded with Mahoney for at least 10 years while performing with a few different acts and says Mahoney knows how to accentuate the artist and as such is a key part of the work he’s most proud of.
“He’s as good as it gets — I could tell him the intention of a guitar solo and he came up with magnificent sound coloring,” Holden said. “He’s a wizard in the studio.”
It’s those precision ears, people who know him say, that make him so good. And as a drummer in his own musical projects, his sense of rhythm is an asset, too.
“He hears things that I’m not aware of,” professor Vince Gnojek said.
Mahoney has had practice. He moved to Lawrence from Los Angeles with his wife, Lisa Miller Mahoney, 15 years ago. She had family in Kansas City, but moving was a bit of a lark.
They drove down Massachusetts Street one day on a visit, she says, and decided “this is it, this is where we’ll go.”
She said the two saw potential in the town’s music scene and set up shop in a recording studio above Milton’s, 920 Mass.
“There are certain places in the country where music and the artistic community are a recognizable driving force, and Lawrence felt that way for us,” Miller Mahoney said.
But it wasn’t to be. After about five years, the business model had changed dramatically, Mahoney couldn’t keep the studio afloat.
“He was in it for the fun of it, the art of it, he saw the potential for business in a fun sort of way,” she said.
Since then, he’s created a full-time position for himself at the School of Music.
There, friends say, he helps the community by providing students and faculty high-quality recordings of their work.
“He works hard and has been in the background,” Holden said, “but for years, he’s been contributing greatly.”